Monday, June 27, 2005

Habitability and "Measurability"

I mentioned in my review of The Privileged Planet (section: "Questions") the question I'd asked about the alleged necessity of the coincidence of habitability with "measurability." I was unable to capture the response other than to summarize it by saying that it "boils down to (in my words) this link's showing we live in a 'privileged universe.'"

Through the generous ministrations of Jonathan Witt, Guillermo Gonzalez pointed out a document that contains the authors' reply in their own words:

The correlation between habitability and measurability is the specification. It’s the pattern. To discover that habitable environments (i.e., environments compatible with observers like ourselves) are also the most measurable is an intrinsically interesting pattern. It’s fishy. “Habitability” and “measurability” are distinct concepts. There’s no logical requirement that these two properties must align in every possible universe. So, to discover that they are yoked in our universe is interesting. It’s what you would expect if the universe were designed for discovery.

So any habitable planet in our universe will also be highly "measurable." Again, it isn't that our habitable planet is additionally favored by measurability but that we live in a "privileged universe" in which the two distinct concepts are coupled.

As I elaborated in the review (section: "Stuff about Numbers"), universal privilege is a problematic concept, of which this line is indicative:

"There’s no logical requirement that these two properties must align in every possible universe."

Is it only logic that constrains the properties of universes? On what basis can one rule out other constraints?

In my next post I hope to amplify my thoughts along this line.

Guillermo Gonzalez, Jay Richards, "A Response of Some Objections of Kyler Kuehn to The Privileged Planet," (Discovery Institute, April 29, 2004). [for whatever reason the document doesn't link to Kuehn's critique or even to his homepage]

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