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Clément Vidal, Departement of Philosophy, ECCO/CLEA, Free University Brussels (VUB), Brussels, Belgium

Vidal, Clément. 2009. Computational and Biological Analogies for Understanding Fine-Tuned Parameters in Physics. Foundations of Science, no. Special Issue of the Conference on the Evolution and Development of the Universe (EDU-2008). In press.

Abstract: In this philosophical paper, we explore computational and biological analogies to address the fine-tuning problem in cosmology. We first clarify what it means for physical constants or initial conditions to be finely tuned. We review important distinctions such as the dimensionless and dimensional physical constants, and the classification of constants proposed by Lévy-Leblond. Then we explore how two great analogies, computational and biological, can give new insights in our problem. As a preliminary study to critically examine the two analogies, we argue that analogies are useful and fundamental cognitive tools but also point out their possible misuses and abuses. The idea that our universe might be modelled as a computational entity is analysed, and we discuss the distinction between physical laws and initial conditions using algorithmic information theory. Smolin introduced the theory of "Cosmological Natural Selection" with a biological analogy in mind. We examine an extension of the analogy involving intelligent life. We discuss if and how this extension can be legitimated.