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Philosophy of Cosmology

In Robert Batterman (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Physics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 607-652 (2013)

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  1. Gravitational Singularities.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Gravitational singularities in general relativity are spacetime locations where the gravitational field becomes infinite. Scalar invariant curves of spacetime include a measure of matter density. Some physicists and philosophers believe that because the density of matter tends to become infinite in singularity, spacetime laws are no longer valid there. A gravitational singularity almost universally accepted in astrophysics and cosmology as the earliest state of the universe, is the Big Bang. In this case also, the known laws of physics are no (...)
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  • On the Carroll–Chen Model.Christopher Weaver - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (1):97-124.
    I argue that the Carroll-Chen cosmogonic model does not provide a plausible scientific explanation of the past hypothesis (the thesis that our universe began in an extremely low-entropy state). I suggest that this counts as a welcomed result for those who adopt a Mill-Ramsey-Lewis best systems account of laws and maintain that the past hypothesis is a brute fact that is a non-dynamical law.
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  • On the Carroll-Chen Model (Long Unpublished Version on Arxiv).Christopher Gregory Weaver - manuscript
    I argue that the Carroll-Chen cosmogonic model does not provide a plausible scientific explanation of our universe's initial low-entropy state.
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  • Epistemologia gravitației experimentale – Raționalitatea științifică.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Evoluția testelor gravitaționale dintr-o perspectivă epistemologică încadrată în conceputul de reconstrucție rațională al lui Imre Lakatos, pe baza metodologiei acestuia a programelor de cercetare. Perioada evaluată este foarte vastă, începând cu filosofia naturală a lui Newton și până la teoriile gravitației cuantice din zilele noastre. Pentru a explica mai rațional evoluția complexă a conceptului de gravitație din ultimul secol, propun o extindere naturală a metodologiei programelor de cercetare pe care o folosesc apoi pe parcursul lucrării. Consider că această abordare oferă (...)
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  • Probabilistic Reasoning in Cosmology.Yann Benétreau-Dupin - 2015 - Dissertation, The University of Western Ontario
    Cosmology raises novel philosophical questions regarding the use of probabilities in inference. This work aims at identifying and assessing lines of arguments and problematic principles in probabilistic reasoning in cosmology. -/- The first, second, and third papers deal with the intersection of two distinct problems: accounting for selection effects, and representing ignorance or indifference in probabilistic inferences. These two problems meet in the cosmology literature when anthropic considerations are used to predict cosmological parameters by conditionalizing the distribution of, e.g., the (...)
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  • On Separating the Wheat From the Chaff: Surplus Structure and Artifacts in Scientific Theories.Marie Gueguen - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    Although logical empiricism is now mostly decried, their naturalist claim that the content of a theory can be read off from its structure, without any philosophical considerations needed, still supports traditional strategies to escape cases of underdetermination. The appeal to theoretical equivalence or to theoretical virtues, for instance, both assume that there is a neutral standpoint from which the structure of the theories can be analyzed, the physically relevant from the superfluous separated, and a comparison made between their theoretical content (...)
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  • Theory Construction in High-Energy Particle Physics.Adam Koberinski - 2019 - Dissertation, University of Western Ontario
    Science is a process, through which theoretical frameworks are developed, new phenomena defined and discovered, and properties of entities tested. The goal of this dissertation is to illustrate how high-energy physics exemplified the process of theory construction from the 1950s to 1970s, and the promising ways in which it can continue to do so today. The lessons learned from the case studies examined here can inform future physics, and may provide methodological clues as to the best way forward today. I (...)
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  • How Problematic is the Near-Euclidean Spatial Geometry of the Large-Scale Universe?M. Holman - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (11):1617-1647.
    Modern observations based on general relativity indicate that the spatial geometry of the expanding, large-scale Universe is very nearly Euclidean. This basic empirical fact is at the core of the so-called “flatness problem”, which is widely perceived to be a major outstanding problem of modern cosmology and as such forms one of the prime motivations behind inflationary models. An inspection of the literature and some further critical reflection however quickly reveals that the typical formulation of this putative problem is fraught (...)
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  • Simplified Models: A Different Perspective on Models as Mediators.C. D. McCoy & Michela Massimi - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (1):99-123.
    We introduce a novel point of view on the “models as mediators” framework in order to emphasize certain important epistemological questions about models in science which have so far been little investigated. To illustrate how this perspective can help answer these kinds of questions, we explore the use of simplified models in high energy physics research beyond the Standard Model. We show in detail how the construction of simplified models is grounded in the need to mitigate pressing epistemic problems concerning (...)
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  • From Philosophy of Cosmos to Space Policy: Contemporary Issues and Trends.Viktor Vashkevich & Viktoriya Timashova - 2021 - Filosofiâ I Kosmologiâ 26:35-45.
    The paper aims to study the connection between the philosophy of cosmos and space policy. The authors argue that the research of the philosophy of cosmos stipulates the space policy research. Philosophy of cosmos studies the influence of knowledge about the Universe on human ethics. The more humans reveal for themselves the structure of the Universe and understand their place in it, the more the acquired knowledge affects space activities. The article discloses current trends in space policy that determine the (...)
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  • Singularitățile ca limite ontologice ale relativității generale.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    Singularitățile la care se ajunge în relativitatea generală prin rezolvarea ecuațiilor lui Einstein au fost și încă mai sunt subiectul a numeroase dezbateri științifice: Există sau nu, singularități? Big Bang a fost o singularitate inițială? Dacă singularitățile există, care este ontologia acestora? Este teoria generală a relativității o teorie care și-a arătat limitele în acest caz? În acest eseu argumentez faptul că există singularități, iar teoria generală a relativității, ca de altfel oricare altă teorie științifică din prezent, nu este valabilă (...)
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  • Cosmic Bayes. Datasets and Priors in the Hunt for Dark Energy.Michela Massimi - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-21.
    Bayesian methods are ubiquitous in contemporary observational cosmology. They enter into three main tasks: cross-checking datasets for consistency; fixing constraints on cosmological parameters; and model selection. This article explores some epistemic limits of using Bayesian methods. The first limit concerns the degree of informativeness of the Bayesian priors and an ensuing methodological tension between task and task. The second limit concerns the choice of wide flat priors and related tension between parameter estimation and model selection. The Dark Energy Survey and (...)
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  • The Singularities as Ontological Limits of the General Relativity.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    The singularities from the general relativity resulting by solving Einstein's equations were and still are the subject of many scientific debates: Are there singularities in spacetime, or not? Big Bang was an initial singularity? If singularities exist, what is their ontology? Is the general theory of relativity a theory that has shown its limits in this case? In this essay I argue that there are singularities, and the general theory of relativity, as any other scientific theory at present, is not (...)
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  • Does Inflation Solve the Hot Big Bang Model׳s Fine-Tuning Problems?C. McCoy - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 51:23-36.
    Cosmological inflation is widely considered an integral and empirically successful component of contemporary cosmology. It was originally motivated by its solution of certain so-called fine-tuning problems of the hot big bang model, particularly what are known as the horizon problem and the flatness problem. Although the physics behind these problems is clear enough, the nature of the problems depends on the sense in which the hot big bang model is fine-tuned and how the alleged fine-tuning is problematic. Without clear explications (...)
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  • On the Ostrogradski Instability; or, Why Physics Really Uses Second Derivatives.Noel Swanson - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz042.
    Candidates for fundamental physical laws rarely, if ever, employ higher than second time derivatives. Easwaran sketches an enticing story that purports to explain away this puzzling fact and thereby provides indirect evidence for a particular set of metaphysical theses used in the explanation. I object to both the scope and coherence of Easwaran's account, before going on to defend an alternative, more metaphysically deflationary explanation: in interacting Lagrangian field theories, it is either impossible or very hard to incorporate higher than (...)
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  • Epistemic Justification and Methodological Luck in Inflationary Cosmology.C. D. McCoy - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (4):1003-1028.
    I present a recent historical case from cosmology—the story of inflationary cosmology—and on its basis argue that solving explanatory problems is a reliable method for making progress in science. In particular, I claim that the success of inflationary theory at solving its predecessor’s explanatory problems justified the theory epistemically, even in advance of the development of novel predictions from the theory and the later confirmation of those predictions.
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  • The Cosmos As Involving Local Laws and Inconceivable Without Them.Chris J. Smeenk & Yann Benétreau-Dupin - 2017 - The Monist 100 (3):357-372.
    Traditional debates, such as those regarding whether the universe is finite in spatial or temporal extent, exemplified, according to Kant, the inherent tendency of pure reason to lead us astray. Although various aspects of Kant’s arguments fail to find a footing in modern cosmology, Kant’s objections to the search for a complete objective description of the cosmos are related to three intertwined issues that are still of central importance: the applicability of universal laws, the status of distinctively cosmological laws, and (...)
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  • L'ontologie des singularités.Nicolae Sfetcu - manuscript
    La relativité générale permet les singularités et nous devons comprendre l'ontologie si nous voulons comprendre la nature de l'espace et du temps dans l'univers d'aujourd'hui. Bien que certains physiciens pensent que les singularités indiquent un échec de la relativité générale, d'autres pensent que les singularités ouvrent un nouvel horizon dans la cosmologie, avec de réels phénomènes physiques pouvant contribuer à un progrès profond dans notre compréhension du monde. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24491.18728 .
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  • Underdetermination in Cosmology: An Invitation.Jeremy Butterfield - 2012 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):1-18.
    I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates underdetermination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I confine 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. Or rather, the discussion is confined to a few aspects of that history. I emphasize that despite the (...)
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  • From a Necessary Being to a Perfect Being.T. Ryan Byerly - 2019 - Analysis 79 (1):10-17.
    Cosmological arguments for the existence of God face a gap problem. This is the problem of convincingly arguing that their intermediate conclusions that some first cause or necessary being exists provide evidence for their main conclusion that God exists. This paper develops a simple and innovative approach to solving this problem, applicable to many cosmological arguments. According to the proposal, the best explanation for why the necessary being is found to have necessary existence is that it is a perfect being. (...)
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  • Can Typicality Arguments Dissolve Cosmology’s Flatness Problem?C. D. McCoy - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (5):1239-1252.
    Several physicists, among them Hawking, Page, Coule, and Carroll, have argued against the probabilistic intuitions underlying fine-tuning arguments in cosmology and instead propose that the canonical measure on the phase space of Friedman-Robertson-Walker space-times should be used to evaluate fine-tuning. They claim that flat space-times in this set are actually typical on this natural measure and that therefore the flatness problem is illusory. I argue that they misinterpret typicality in this phase space and, moreover, that no conclusion can be drawn (...)
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  • Scientific Realism and Primordial Cosmology.Feraz Azhar & Jeremy Butterfield - unknown
    We discuss scientific realism from the perspective of modern cosmology, especially primordial cosmology: i.e. the cosmological investigation of the very early universe. We first state our allegiance to scientific realism, and discuss what insights about it cosmology might yield, as against "just" supplying scientific claims that philosophers can then evaluate. In particular, we discuss: the idea of laws of cosmology, and limitations on ascertaining the global structure of spacetime. Then we review some of what is now known about the early (...)
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  • On Under-Determination in Cosmology.Jeremy Butterfield - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 46 (1):57-69.
    I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates under-determination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I emphasise cosmology's concern with what data could in principle be collected by a single observer ; and I give a broadly sceptical discussion of cosmology's appeal to the cosmological principle as a way of breaking the under-determination.I confine most of the discussion to the history of the observable universe from about one second after the Big Bang, as described (...)
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  • Replacing Recipe Realism.Juha Saatsi - 2017 - Synthese 194 (9):3233-3244.
    Many realist writings exemplify the spirit of ‘recipe realism’. Here I characterise recipe realism, challenge it, and propose replacing it with ‘exemplar realism’. This alternative understanding of realism is more piecemeal, robust, and better in tune with scientists’ own attitude towards their best theories, and thus to be preferred.
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  • Measure, Topology and Probabilistic Reasoning in Cosmology.Erik Curiel - unknown
    I explain the difficulty of making various concepts of and relating to probability precise, rigorous and physically significant when attempting to apply them in reasoning about objects living in infinite-dimensional spaces, working through many examples from cosmology. I focus on the relation of topological to measure-theoretic notions of and relating to probability, how they diverge in unpleasant ways in the infinite-dimensional case, and are even difficult to work with on their own. Even in cases where an appropriate family of spacetimes (...)
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  • Relativistic Causality in Algebraic Quantum Field Theory.John Earman & Giovanni Valente - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (1):1-48.
    This paper surveys the issue of relativistic causality within the framework of algebraic quantum field theory . In doing so, we distinguish various notions of causality formulated in the literature and study their relationships, and thereby we offer what we hope to be a useful taxonomy. We propose that the most direct expression of relativistic causality in AQFT is captured not by the spectrum condition but rather by the axiom of local primitive causality, in that it entails a form of (...)
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