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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
The Flatness Problem
When I was a first-year graduate student in astrophysics at Harvard University in 1958, I encountered two problems that have remained with me all these years. One I might have called the "equilibrium problem," although today it is the fundamental problem of information philosophy - What creates the information structures in the universe?"

At Brown I had studied physics and especially the second law of thermodynamics. There I had read Arthur Stanley Eddington's wonderful 1927 book The Nature of the Physical World, his Gifford Lectures, and took away two ideas - that entropy had something to do with values, and that Werner Heisenberg's then new uncertainty principle had put a crack in the idea of determinism, through which he could see a "chink of daylight" in the problem of free will.

I thought I would solve two related problems starting with Eddington's ideas - libertarian free will and the problem of values.

In my philosophy classes at Brown I learned that continental existentialists thought that we are radically free, but that our freedom is absurd, because there are no objective values to help us make choices. Logical positivists had the very opposite idea. There are values, either utilitarianism or a consequence of our human emotions. But Anglo-American philosophy was solidly determinist, certain that laws of nature explained the workings of the universe and so clearly could explain the human mind. There was no free will for them.

If freedom without values is absurd, I thought, values without freedom are useless. The problems need to be solved together.

Back in astrophysics, I saw cosmology and the second law about the inevitable increase of entropy seemed to be in serious conflict. The best opinion about the beginning of the universe in 1958 was that it had started in a state of equilibrium about ten billion years ago.

The "equilibrium problem" I saw at that time was this. "If the universe began in a state of equilibrium, and the second law says that entropy can only increase, why aren't we still in a state of equilibrium?" I asked anyone who might be interested, "How can we be here having this conversation?"

At that time, the universe was thought to be positively curved. Hubble's red shifts of distant galaxies showed that they did not have enough kinetic energy to overcome the gravitational potential energy. Textbooks likened the universe to the surface of an expanding balloon decorated with galaxies moving away from one another.

That balloon popped for me when Walter Baade came to Harvard to describe his wartime work at Mount Wilson. During the war, lights in California cities were blacked out and astronomical seeing was great. There was little competition for observing time, as most astronomers were doing defense work. As a German national, Baade was exempt. He took many images with long exposures of nearby galaxies and discovered there are two distinct populations of stars. And in each population there was a different kind of Cepheid variable star. The period of the Cepheid's curve of light variation indicated its absolute brightness, so they could be used as "standard candles" to find the distances to star clusters in the Milky Way.

Baade then realized that the Cepheids being used to calculate the distance to Andromeda were 1.6 magnitudes brighter than the ones used in our galaxy. Baade said Andromeda must be twice as far away as Hubble had thought.

As I listened to Baade, for me the universe went from being positively curved to negatively curved. It jumped right over the flat universe!

This is a situation we are actually approaching. All the non-gravitationally bound systems will slip over our light horizon as the expansion takes them higher than the velocity of light. But note that we will always be able to see back to the cosmic microwave background, all the contents of the universe we see today!
I used to draw a line with tick marks for powers of ten in density around the critical density ρc. We could increase the density of the universe by thirty powers of ten before it would have the same density as the earth (too dense!). But on the lighter side, there are an infinite number of powers of ten. We can't exclude a universe with average density zero, which still allows us to exist, but little else in the distance.

Couldn't we live happily in a universe with 10-35 grams per cubic centimeter, or even 10-40?

I asked myself how likely is it that the universe is so close to flat that the observational error bars include the flat case? I started telling friends that if the universe is exactly flat, future observations alone could never resolve the question of positive versus negative curvature. We needed a theory of why the universe is exactly flat!

Information philosophy today suggests a solution. The universe began with a minimum of information. Either a positive or negative curvature requires more, so a flat universe is informationally minimal. QED. Zero energy also requires less information to specify than some amount, so this is again an informational minimum case, though I was not yet an information philosopher in the 1960's.

In a Newtonian universe, the flat case is when the kinetic and potential energies exactly balance, when there is no net energy in the universe. The 1/r2 potential goes to zero at infinity, at which point/time (never reached) the asymptotic kinetic energy is zero.

What I did see is that the universe might consist of equal and opposite amounts of something, such that before t = 0, it was nothing. This would neatly answer Leibniz' great philosophical question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

The Flat Universe Today
The standard model of cosmology now assumes that the universe is exactly flat, but that the amount of matter needed is not available in the form of the ordinary matter (baryons, electrons, photons, etc.) that makes up the visible (luminous) universe. The luminous matter can account for only a few percent of the critical density of matter needed for a flat universe. Another 25% or so of an unknown form of dark matter, plus 70% of a "dark energy," thought to be quantum vacuum energy, makes up the balance of the critical density.

Information philosophy can contribute little to the standard model, but it can support an early universe with very little information (negative entropy). As long as the maximum possible entropy increases with the universe expansion, the cosmic creation process can provide the information (negative entropy) in the galaxies, stars, planets, terrestrial life, etc.

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