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Dark Matter Realism

Martens, Niels C.M. (2022) Dark Matter Realism. Foundations of Physics, 52 (1). ISSN 0015-9018

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Abstract

According to the standard model of cosmology, $\Lambda$CDM, the mass-energy budget of the current stage of the universe is not dominated by the luminous matter that we are familiar with, but instead by some form of dark matter (and dark energy). It is thus tempting to adopt scientific realism about dark matter. However, there are barely any constraints on the myriad of possible properties of this entity---it is not even certain that it is a form of matter. In light of this underdetermination I advocate caution: we should not (yet) be dark matter realists. The "not(-yet)-realism" that I have in mind is different from Hacking's (1989) anti-realism, in that it is semantic rather than epistemological. It also differs from the semantic anti-realism of logical empiricism, in that it is naturalistic, such that it may only be temporary and does not automatically apply to all other unobservables (or even just to all other astronomical unobservables, as with Hacking's anti-realism). The argument is illustrated with the analogy of the much longer history of the concept of a gene, as the current state of the concept of dark matter resembles in some relevant ways that of the early concept of genes.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Martens, Niels C.M.martensniels@gmail.com0000-0002-2839-1387
Additional Information: Winner of the New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology Essay Award (Dec 2020): www.philcosmo.uwo.ca/philosophy-of-cosmology-essay-contest-winners-2020/
Keywords: dark matter, scientific realism, semantic realism, genes
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Dr Niels C.M. Martens
Date Deposited: 27 Dec 2021 23:58
Last Modified: 27 Dec 2021 23:58
Item ID: 20050
Journal or Publication Title: Foundations of Physics
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10701-0...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/s10701-021-00524-y
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 2022
Volume: 52
Number: 1
ISSN: 0015-9018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20050

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