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On Under-determination in Cosmology

Butterfield, Jeremy (2012) On Under-determination in Cosmology. [Preprint]

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    Abstract

    I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates under-determination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I emphasize cosmology's concern with what data could in principle be collected by a single observer (Section 2); and I give a broadly sceptical discussion of cosmology’s appeal to the cosmological principle as a way of breaking the under-determination (Section 3). I confine most of the discussion to the history of the observable universe from about one second after the Big Bang, as described by the mainstream cosmological model: in effect, what cosmologists in the early 1970s dubbed the ‘standard model’, as elaborated since then. But in the closing Section 4, I broach some questions about times earlier than one second.


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    Item Type: Preprint
    Additional Information: Submitted to Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, on 2 February 2012.
    Keywords: under-determination, the standard model of cosmology, observationally indistinguishable spacetimes, the cosmological principle, the flatness problem, the horizon problem
    Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
    Specific Sciences > Physics
    General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
    Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
    Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2012 08:52
    Last Modified: 06 Jul 2013 11:37
    Item ID: 9157
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9157

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