Beyond Falsifiability: Normal Science in a Multiverse

In Richard Dawid, Radin Dardashti & Karim Thebault (eds.), Epistemology of Fundamental Physics: Why Trust a Theory? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press (2019)
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Abstract

Cosmological models that invoke a multiverse - a collection of unobservable regions of space where conditions are very different from the region around us - are controversial, on the grounds that unobservable phenomena shouldn't play a crucial role in legitimate scientific theories. I argue that the way we evaluate multiverse models is precisely the same as the way we evaluate any other models, on the basis of abduction, Bayesian inference, and empirical success. There is no scientifically respectable way to do cosmology without taking into account different possibilities for what the universe might be like outside our horizon. Multiverse theories are utterly conventionally scientific, even if evaluating them can be difficult in practice.

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Sean M. Carroll
Johns Hopkins University

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