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Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy (Studies in Philosophy) Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0415938587 ISBN-10: 0415938589

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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Philosophy
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (July 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415938589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415938587
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,368,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"From traffic analysis via a many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics and the problem of the fine-tuning of the universe to the purely philosophical problems of the Doomsday argument and the Sleeping Beauty problem, Bostrom succeeds in shining a new and interesting light on all of these issues." --Wouter Meijs

"Bostrom presents a highly readable and widely relevant work which can be warmly recommended to everyone in philosophy of science."--Christian Wuthrich, Philosophy of Science

"Probably the worst thing one can say about this book is that it is too short....Anthropic Bias is a wonderful achievement, which should find place on the shelf of every serious student of modern philosophy of science, epistemology, and cosmology." --Milan Cirkovic, Foundations of Science

"Anthropic Bias is a synthesis of some of the most interesting and important ideas to emerge from discussion of cosmic fine-tuning, the anthropic principle, and the Doomsday Argument. It deserves a place on the shelves of epistemologists and philosophers of science, as well as specialists interested in the topics just mentioned."--Neil Manson, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

 


More About the Author

Nick Bostrom is Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University and founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology within the Oxford Martin School. He is the author of some 200 publications, including Anthropic Bias (Routledge, 2002), Global Catastrophic Risks (ed., OUP, 2008), and Human Enhancement (ed., OUP, 2009), and a forthcoming book on Superintelligence. He previously taught at Yale, and he was a Postdoctoral Fellow of the British Academy. Bostrom has a background in physics, computational neuroscience, and mathematical logic as well as philosophy.
He is best known for his work in five areas: (i) existential risk; (ii) the simulation argument; (iii) anthropics (developing the first mathematically explicit theory of observation selection effects); (iv) transhumanism, including related issues in bioethics and on consequences of future technologies; and (v) foundations and practical implications of consequentialism. He is currently working on a book about the existential risks and strategic issues related to the prospect of machine superintelligence.

He has received the Eugene R. Gannon Award for the Continued Pursuit of Human Advancement (one person selected annually worldwide from the fields of philosophy, mathematics, the arts and other humanities, and the natural sciences), and been named One of the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine. His writings have been translated into 21 languages, and there have been more than 100 translations or reprints of his works. He has done more than 500 interviews for TV, film, radio, and print media, and addressed academic and popular audiences around the world.

For more, see www.nickbostrom.com

Customer Reviews

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Bostrom's book makes amusing, although at times quite exacting, reading.
Milan M. Cirkovic
It is not easy to read, but there's little reason to expect a book on this subject could be both easy to read and correct.
Peter McCluskey
The S.S.A. is a rechristened and cut-down version of the maximum entropy principle.
Tim Tyler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Milan M. Cirkovic on September 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Why the universe is just so? The question has been posed by scientists and philosophers for millenia, but only very recently have we accumulated enough physical and astronomical knowledge to be able to discuss these issues in a serious and quantitative manner. And, lo and behold! what modern cosmologists began to explore in earnest is a sort of necessary link between our own existence as intelligent observers evolved from the simplest procaryote lifeforms over billions of years and the properties of universe (and other universes!) at large. This link is technically called an observational selection effect, and if from now on anybody wishes to seriously study these matters, "Anthropic Bias" is without question an excellent place to start.
Bostrom's book makes amusing, although at times quite exacting, reading. Early on, he gives a splendid overview of the entire field of anthropic reasoning, much used and abused in the last quarter of century. Then, almost imperceptibly, he passes on to several instances in which the nature of the anthropic selection effect becomes clearer and clearer. From quantum cosmology to annoying traffic jams, from quantum mechanics to Adam and Eve thought experiments, from freak observers created by black holes' evaporation radiation to the (in)famous Doomsday argument of Gott, Carter and Leslie (not to mention future totalitarian world government and paranormal causation), the book reads as an exciting detective novel, as you rapidly change settings following the same thread of evidence to the main culprit: the universal observational selection effect, explained in detail in the Chapter 10, arguably the culmination of the drama.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rob Zahra on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a powerful unification and expansion of a number of papers Bostrom has written. He's usually many steps ahead of most other thinkers on whatever subject he's considering, and this appears to me to be the case here as well. I'm not fully comfortable with the conclusions about the relativity of one's choice of reference class, but I don't currently see any better solution. This book has made it much easier to think about the issues clearly. Highly recommended.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Peter McCluskey on March 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book discusses selection effects as they affect reasoning on topics such as the Doomsday Argument, whether you will choose a lane of traffic that is slower than average, and whether we can get evidence for or against the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics. Along the way it poses some unusual thought experiments that at first glance seem to prove some absurd conclusions. It then points out the questionable assumptions about what constitute "similar observers" upon which the absurd conclusions depend, and in doing so it convinced me that the Doomsday Argument is weaker than I had previously thought.

It says some interesting things about the implications of a spatially infinite universe, and of the possibility that the number of humans will be infinite.

It is not easy to read, but there's little reason to expect a book on this subject could be both easy to read and correct.
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