PhilSci Archive

Scientific Realism and Primordial Cosmology

Azhar, Feraz and Butterfield, Jeremy (2016) Scientific Realism and Primordial Cosmology. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
Text
azhar+butterfield_16_v3D_PhilSciArchive.pdf

Download (375kB) | Preview

Abstract

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 (Section 2) 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 universe (Section 3): meaning, roughly, from a thousandth of a second after the Big Bang onwards(!).

The rest of the paper takes up two issues about primordial cosmology, i.e. the very early universe, where "very early" means, roughly, much earlier (logarithmically) than one second after the Big Bang: say, less than 10^{-11} seconds. Both issues illustrate that familiar philosophical threat to scientific realism, the under-determination of theory by data---on a cosmic scale.

The first issue (Section 4) concerns the difficulty of observationally probing the very early universe. More specifically, the difficulty is to ascertain details of the putative inflationary epoch. The second issue (Section 5) concerns difficulties about confirming a cosmological theory that postulates a multiverse, i.e. a set of domains (universes) each of whose inhabitants (if any) cannot directly observe, or otherwise causally interact with, other domains. This again concerns inflation, since many inflationary models postulate a multiverse.

For all these issues, it will be clear that much remains unsettled, as regards both physics and philosophy. But we will maintain that these remaining controversies do not threaten scientific realism.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Azhar, Ferazfa232@cam.ac.uk
Butterfield, Jeremyjb56@cam.ac.uk
Additional Information: An abridged version will appear in "The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism", ed. Juha Saatsi.
Keywords: scientific realism, primordial cosmology, inflation, multiverse
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Depositing User: Dr. Feraz Azhar
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2016 19:32
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2016 19:32
Item ID: 12192
Subjects: General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Date: 13 June 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12192

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item