Monday, July 12, 2010

In Defense of The Anthropic Principle

As stated here: the anthropic principle is the idea that the observations of the physical universe must be compatible with the life observed in it. The principle was formulated in response to the fine tuning/argument from design type arguments, which assert that the universe seems to have been created just for us, as all of the natural laws, and all physical constants contained therein, are conducive to life. The anthropic principle basically counters this contention with a well, duh. Of course it's all conducive to life. If it wasn't, we would not be here to make such observations. You cannot observe conditions of a given universe of you do not exist.

The fine tuning arguments, true or not (I of course believe them to be erroneous) cannot be lended credence by merely pointing to the fact that everything, as it exists, has come together in such a way to allow for the existence of the life we see. That condition would be true of a non finely tuned universe as well.

The anthropic principle has come under scrutiny, but at its core, and at its simplest, I don't see a problem with it. Is it a philosophical idea as opposed to a scientific one? Sure, but I am not here claiming it to be scientific. I think the main reason is has come under fire is the fact that it is misunderstood. The anthropic principle does not seek to disprove/refute the fine tuning arguments. It merely removes from the proponents of said arguments one of their lines of reasoning/evidence. It shows them that, in their quest to prove the fine tuning theory, they do NOT get to point to the fact that life is here as evidence of fine tuning.

Basically, the anthropic principle reveals the fact that such arguments are merely a case of begging the question. At least, that's how I see it. If you disagree, please, let me know.

So, in addition to looking for feedback as to whether or not people agree with my contentions regarding the intent and usage of the principle, I pose this question to any detractors of the principle: Is there any way that the observations of the conditions within a universe could not be contingent upon the existence of the observer?

To answer my own question, I should think not.


  1. The new layout is nice, but the white font colour occasionally turns more translucent when it comes up against the polar regions of the Earth and it can strain the eyes when trying to read it.

    And sure, what's this blogging project you're talking about? I'd like to know more about it.

    Well now I have a name to put to what I thought. When people tried to advocate that the universe was specially created for us I always thought of two things:

    - "well, duh. Of course it's all conducive to life. If it wasn't, we would not be here to make such observations."

    - So why is there a risk of asteroids and meteorites colliding with the Earth and causing another mass extinction? That doesn't seem like a finely-tuned universe.

  2. I...can't see shit with your new layout o.O. needs more contrast between text and bg. which is quite impossible with that bg

  3. Typical of the chicken or the egg. Did the universe conspire in our creation or was it life's adaptability that made our existence possible? I have no idea, really. And you are right, it is more of a existential philosophical question than something meant to draw conclusions from.

  4. I have changed the background, gents. Sucks, as I really liked the planet....ah well :(

  5. This is a subject I never really thought much about, but I agree with this principle. Also at Petrakus: I think a couple of British scientists actually found out that the chicken came first. You should look into it for I am not sure whether what I just said is 100% accurate.

  6. The answer is actually the egg, bro. Life forms prior to (along the evolutionary scale) the modern chicken laid eggs.


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