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Uniform probability in cosmology

Wenmackers, Sylvia (2023) Uniform probability in cosmology. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Problems with uniform probabilities on an infinite support show up in contemporary cosmology. This paper focuses on the context of inflation theory, where it complicates the assignment of a probability measure over pocket universes. The measure problem in cosmology, whereby it seems impossible to pick out a uniquely well-motivated measure, is associated with a paradox that occurs in standard probability theory and crucially involves uniformity on an infinite sample space. This problem has been discussed by physicists, albeit without reference to earlier work on this topic. The aim of this article is both to introduce philosophers of probability to these recent discussions in cosmology and to familiarize physicists and philosophers working on cosmology with relevant foundational work by Kolmogorov, de Finetti, Jaynes, and other probabilists. As such, the main goal is not to solve the measure problem, but to clarify the exact origin of some of the current obstacles. The analysis of the assumptions going into the paradox indicates that there exist multiple ways of dealing consistently with uniform probabilities on infinite sample spaces. Taking a pluralist stance towards the mathematical methods used in cosmology shows there is some room for progress with assigning probabilities in cosmological theories.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wenmackers, Sylviasylvia.wenmackers@kuleuven.be0000-0002-1041-3533
Keywords: Cosmology Infinity Measure problem Paradox Probability theory
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Depositing User: Prof. dr. Sylvia Wenmackers
Date Deposited: 24 Aug 2023 14:02
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2023 14:02
Item ID: 22444
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
Date: 23 August 2023
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/22444

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