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13 December 2007



My goodness, Magister Dawson; you tackle the hardest metaphysical issues. You are a brave individual!

Your point '1.' - I was discussing with Michael about this, and Michael (I told him misunderstandingly) thought you meant as describing normal entities in the way that Mechanics or Statistics does; so, to mathematically represent the belief function in probability epistemology, or the idealisation of laws of nature in mechanics. I told him this was probably NOT what you mean. Michael's interpretation of your point is a seperate issue; you are making the EVEN BOLDER (and more unique) claim that UNIVERSES can be mathematically represented. We think you need to say more about this, as it seems promising. It's a more interesting point than the actual topic of this post.

Another curiosity I have: How far do you think this criterion of existence in relation to possible universes appeals to our intuition?

Many non-philosophers (inc. 'continental philosophers') and non-logicians wonder what is the point of mentioning these weird entities of 'possible worlds'.

I don't actually hold this wonder, but I wonder how you would justify to those who are unfamiliar with this whole 'possible universe' talk why it is important to think about these things.

Lets not isolate ourselves from the very people we try to emendate and improve by alienating them with what they see as very weird talk!

Always a pleasure to read you, Dawson.


Barnaby Dawson

I will write more about mathematically representing universes in another post. But briefly more detail on (1): All the information about a universe at all locations within that universe can be collected together (in universes with a notion of time all times and places). A means of coding must be chosen to represent that information mathematically. Once a coding is chosen the information can be represented by a mathematical object (I'd say a set is the right mathematical object for this task).

The coding is unimportant because (2) guarentees that whatever coding you choose the representations you get will correspond to the same universe.

I would tend to justify talk about possible universes by saying that in many problem solving instances you need to think outside the problem to actually solve it. When one solves a problem in geometry it almost always involves constructing new lines, circles that were not in the original puzzle. In solving big problems in our universe (or about it) it would be foolish to think that we would not even need to imagine how things might have been.

One other example in challenging the subjugation of women it was necessary to imagine another possible world (one where women were free to vote and to decide their own life choices).

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