Skip to main content

Levels of Multiplicity

Image result for universe

Just thinking aloud here. There are several theories extant about how what we think of as the universe, the totality of spaces you could in principle get to from here, and of moments in time that came before or will come after this one, is only one of many. A multiplicity of multiverse theories, so to speak.

I'll still to three (I'm sure there are more).

1) A multiverse exists because every black hole is also a big bang. I'm told that mathematical modeling of a black hole leads to the inference that a mass of any size may somehowishly be reduced to a single infinitesimal point (meaning: infinite density). Also, that this makes the formation of a black hole look like the big bang postulated as the start of our universe in reverse. From such premises, the italicized inference above seems possible. If every black hole you can get to from here is a big bang, though, then it is the big bang of another universe, one you can't get to from here, one with its own space and time.

On this view, too, the steady-state theory of the universe, long since consigned to the dust heap of scientific history, enjoys a resurrection. The multiverse consisting of all these universe creating universes might well be in a steady state, without a moment of creation and without the prospect of a heat death. Or any other sort of birth or death.  Cosmologist Lee Smolin advocates something like this, although he is not to be held responsible for my bald summary of what I think is his view. I'll call it the Smolin view below, and will continue to do so unless he sues me and gets an injunction.

2) A multiverse exists because some events are quantum mechanical indeterminate, and they cause time-series to diverge. This is probably the most familiar of the three views. It has made a sizeable pop cultural splash since the days of Heisenberg, Schrodinger, etc. If there is a time line in which the infamous cat lives and another in which it doesn't, then there are a heck of a lot more universes than the Smolin view above would entail. This theory may give to some a sort of quasi-religious consolation. Whatever bad decisions Christopher has made in this world, there may have been a quantum mechanical effect involved in his neurons at the time, and if that is so then there may be another universe in which he then made the right call. So miserable Christopher can console himself that there is a happy Christopher in that other (equally actual) universe.

Note that the Smolin sort of multiverse offers no such consolation. I have no reason to identify with any Christopher in any of those other worlds. There might be someone a lot like me in some of them, but if so that fact is entirely accidental and there's nothing consoling about it. This second view, though, with its ordinary-event divergence of universes, strikes close to home. The third one, to which we come now, even more so.

3) A multiverse exists for a purely conceptual reason, because it is impossible to make sense out of counter-factual statements unless every statement about a frustrated possibility is a statement about an actuality in another world.

Another way of putting this point: actuality may just be indexical. Indexical words are words that depend upon the point of view for their truth or falsity. "The book is here," I say, with my hand on the book in question. If you were to say that, in another room, with the same book in mind, you would be wrong. The book (for you) isn't here, it is there. I am bored now. I was excited last Wednesday. Now and then are indexical, like here and there. According to some philosophers, notably David Lewis, we can't make any sense out of the words "actual" or "possible" unless we see them as indexical. And since anything I can conceive of without contradiction is in the relevant sense possible, then any such "possible" world is "actual" in its own here and now, its own universe.

Where do we end up if we believe that each of these arguments for a multiverse is a strong one?  A multiverse-verse? or a multi-multiverse?

Comments

  1. TeethNightGuard is offering personalized fitting and high quality customized dental guards.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

England as a Raft?

In a lecture delivered in 1880, William James asked rhetorically, "Would England ... be the drifting raft she is now in European affairs if a Frederic the Great had inherited her throne instead of a Victoria, and if Messrs Bentham, Mill, Cobden, and Bright had all been born in Prussia?"

Beneath that, in a collection of such lectures later published under James' direction, was placed the footnote, "The reader will remember when this was written."

The suggestion of the bit about Bentham, Mill, etc. is that the utilitarians as a school helped render England ineffective as a European power, a drifting raft.

The footnote was added in 1897. So either James is suggesting that the baleful influence of Bentham, Mill etc wore off in the meantime or that he had over-estimated it.

Let's unpack this a bit.  What was happening in the period before 1880 that made England seem a drifting raft in European affairs, to a friendly though foreign observer (to the older brother…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Francesco Orsi

I thought briefly that I had found a contemporary philosopher whose views on ethics and meta-ethics checked all four key boxes. An ally all down the line.

The four, as regular readers of this blog may remember, are: cognitivism, intuitionism, consequentialism, pluralism. These represent the views that, respectively: some ethical judgments constitute knowledge; one important source for this knowledge consists of quasi-sensory non-inferential primary recognitions ("intuitions"); the right is logically dependent upon the good; and there exists an irreducible plurality of good.

Francesco Orsi seemed to believe all of these propositions. Here's his website and a link to one relevant paper:

https://sites.google.com/site/francescoorsi1/

https://jhaponline.org/jhap/article/view/3

What was better: Orsi is a young man. Born in 1980. A damned child! Has no memories of the age of disco!

So I emailed him asking if I was right that he believed all of those things. His answer: three out of …