[extropy-chat] The Personal Anthropic Principle

Lee Corbin lcorbin at tsoft.com
Thu Mar 2 17:32:07 UTC 2006

Russell gives an example (thanks!)

> Our solar system contains one star, eight planets and 
> an indeterminately large number of moons, asteroids, 
> Kuiper belt objects etc. Of all these objects, how is 
> it that we were lucky enough to find ourselves on just 
> the one, the third planet from the sun, where conditions 
> are suitable for life?
> Two possible answers:
> 1. There is no explanation, it's just a thing to contemplate and marvel at.
> 2. Of course we find ourselves living on an object where 
>    conditions are suitable for life, however small a percentage 
>    of the total such objects may be - we couldn't have evolved 
>    in a place where they aren't!
> Do you really think the first answer is better than the second?

I don't think that (2.) is any explanation at all! But that
it is not a very good explanation, I'm sure you agree.

But really, let's examine that question "How is it that we
were lucky enough to find ourselves on just such a planet?"

It's probably not a good question either, and to show why,
consider a parallel situation. Say you bump into an
long-lost friend in some strange city and ask "how is
it that we were lucky enough to run into each other?"
There may turn out to be an answer: he could have arranged
it as a surprise, or you were both drawn to the same event,
or something really far-fetched. But it could easily be that
there is no explanation.

Both your example and mine are predicated on pre-existence.
Given that we exist, yes, as you say "Of course we find
ourselves..." in such a situation. Another analogy could be
to say to my long-lost friend "Well, of course we had to meet
here or we wouldn't be having this conversation!" (which is
predicated upon our being face-to-face).


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