Nick Bostrom's thinking in analytic philosophy

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Dr. Nick Bostrom

Department of Philosophy
Yale University
Welcome! This is the site for my work in analytic philosophy. At the present, it covers issues in the foundations of probability theory, observational selection effects and the Doomsday argument; some epistemology; some decision theory; some philosophy of language; and some meta-philosophy. Some papers here are completed works, others are still in early drafts-form. If you want to know more about me, you can visit my personal home page where there are articles on a wider range of topics, a CV (incl. Publications and Media Appearances), interviews, and more. Click here for a philosophy links page (but read some of my papers first!)
Observational Selection Effects and Probability -- NEW This work presents the first mathematically explicit theory of observational selection effects. It has applications in cosmology, evolutionary biology, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the search for extraterrrestrial life, to the question of whether God exists, and even traffic planning. [Doctoral dissertation (2000). Deptartment of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific method, London School of Economics, London]
The Doomsday Argument is Alive and Kicking -- Have Korb and Oliver refuted the doomsday argument? [Penultimate draft of a paper in Mind, Vol.108, No.431, July 1999]
Observer-relative chances in anthropic reasoning? -- Read about a paradoxical thought experiment  [Penultimate draft of a paper in Erkenntnis (2000) Vol. 52, pp. 93-108]
The Super-Newcomb Problem -- NEW A puzzling variant of the Newcomb puzzle. [Penultimate draft of a paper forthcoming in Analysis (2001)]The Doomsday Argument, Adam & Eve, UN++, and Quantum Joe -- NEW My newest paper on the Doomsday argument and related paradoxes [Penultimate draft of paper forthcoming in Synthese (2001). An ancestor was an invited paper at a University of London School of Advanced Study Conference "The end of the world", (Nov. 6, London, UK).]
Fine-Tuninig Arguments in Cosmology -- NEW Is purported cosmological fine-tuning in need of explanation? If so, can a multiverse theory, or alternatively a design hypothesis, explain it? This paper shows that observational selection effects are the key to resolving this controversyAre Cosmological Theories Compatible with All Possible Evidence? -- NEW Obviously not, but this paper argues that a new methodological principle is required: the Self-Sampling Assumption. Without it, the answer to the question seems to be yes.
The Epistemological Mystique of Self-Locating Belief NEW -- Mini-paper showing that where anthropic reasoning seems to give rise to weird results is in situations where the hypotheses under consideration imply different numbers of observers will have existed.Cosmological Constant and the Final Anthropic Hypothesis -- What are the implications of recent evidence for a cosmological constant for the prospects of indefinite survival of intelligent information processing in the multiverse? [With Milan M. Cirkovic. Astrophysics and Space Science (2000). Vol. 279, No. 4, pp. 675-687]
The Transhumanist FAQ -- Over 50 persons collaborated with me in writing this. It is an attempt to lay the foundations for a transhumanist philosophyA critique of David Lewis' theory of chance -- Critically examines Lewis' seminal ideas on how to analyze objective probabilities.
Investigations into the Doomsday argument OLD -- The Carter-Leslie Doomsday argument purports to prove from Bayesian principles together with some trivial empirical assumptions that the risk that mankind will be extinguished within the next 100 years or so is much greater than we have previously thought. So far, nobody has been able to find anything wrong with the reasoning. This paper attempts an in-depth analysis.Three essays on chance, credence and probabilistic laws -- This paper-in-progress seeks to develop a subjectivist theory of objective probability. The first essay criticizes David Lewis' approach. The second presents my own theory of objective probability, chance and propensity. The third establishes some implications for the analysis of laws. [First presented at the British Society for the Philosophy of Science conference, Nottingham, July 1999.]
What to say to the Skeptic OLD -- A discussion, in accessible dialog form, of the position of the radical skeptic, who doubts that any inductive knowledge is possible.Predictions from Philosophy? OLD -- How philosophers could make themselves useful.
Understanding Quine's Theses of Indeterminacy OLD -- An older piece of work on the indeterminacy of translation thesis.The Doomsday Argument: a Literature Review OLD -- This one will bring you up to speed on the Doomsday argument.