Voltaire mocked Leibnitz (in the guise of Dr. Pangloss) for proposing that this is the ‘best of all possible worlds’. But Leibnitz, co-inventor of the calculus, knew the difference between local and global maxima. A global maximum is the largest value that a function reaches, for any input; whereas a local maximum is the largest value that a function reaches, in some neighborhood of the locally-maximizing input.
I therefore propose this modification of Panglossian optimism; Local Optimism, which states that this is the best of all sufficiently similar possible worlds. Any stable world locally optimizes; it’s the best of all nearby possibilities.
Local optimism suggests that there may be many stable worlds, some better than ours. There may also be inherently unstable worlds, that are the worst of all sufficiently similar possible worlds.
Any continuous path from one stable world to another must begin by getting worse.
Any continuous path from one stable world to a better one must, in between, pass through the worst possible world on the path.
A path from one stable world to a better one that never gets worse must be discontinuous.
Analogs of local optimism are confirmed - and fundamental - in biology and physics; Darwinian evolution for biology and the Law of Least Action for physics. Local Optimism has sufficient scientific support to appeal to the likes of Leibnitz; yet also sufficient satiric undertones to appeal to the likes of Voltaire.
For why does the universe minimize action? Is it lazy?