Are black holes about information?

Abstract

Information theory presupposes the notion of an epistemic agent, such as a scientist or an idealized human. Despite that, information theory is increasingly invoked by physicists concerned with fundamental physics, physics at very high energies, or generally with the physics of situations in which even idealized epistemic agents cannot exist. In this paper, I shall try to determine the extent to which the application of information theory in those contexts is legitimate. I will illustrate my considerations using the case of black hole thermodynamics and Bekenstein's celebrated argument for his formula for the entropy of black holes. This example is particularly pertinent to the theme of the present collection because it is widely accepted as `empirical data' in notoriously empirically deprived quantum gravity, even though the laws of black hole thermodynamics have so far evaded direct empirical confirmation.

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Christian Wüthrich
University of Geneva

Citations of this work

Hawking radiation and analogue experiments: A Bayesian analysis.Radin Dardashti, Stephan Hartmann, Karim P. Y. Thébault & Eric Winsberg - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 67:1-11.
The case for black hole thermodynamics part I: Phenomenological thermodynamics.David Wallace - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 64:52-67.
Can Information Concepts have Physical Content?Javier Anta - 2023 - Perspectives on Science 31 (2):207-232.

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