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On Under-determination in Cosmology

Butterfield, Jeremy (2013) On Under-determination in Cosmology. Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.

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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: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Butterfield, Jeremyjb56@cam.ac.uk
Keywords: under-determination, the standard model of cosmology, observationally indistinguishable spacetimes, the cosmological principle, the flatness problem, the horizon problem
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Jeremy Butterfield
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2013 15:37
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2013 15:37
Item ID: 9866
Journal or Publication Title: Studies in the History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Publisher: Elsevier
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1016/j.shpsb.2013.06.003
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: July 2013
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/9866

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