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Methodological Reflections on the MOND/Dark Matter Debate

Duerr, Patrick M. and Wolf, William J. (2023) Methodological Reflections on the MOND/Dark Matter Debate. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The paper re-examines the principal methodological questions, arising in the debate over the cosmological standard model's postulate of Dark Matter vs. rivalling proposals that modify standard (Newtonian and general-relativistic) gravitational theory, the so-called Modified Newtonian Dynamics (MOND) and its subsequent extensions. What to make of such seemingly radical challenges of cosmological orthodoxy? In the first part of our paper, we assess MONDian theories through the lens of key ideas of major 20th century philosophers of science (Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, and Laudan), thereby rectifying widespread misconceptions and misapplications of these ideas common in the pertinent MOND-related literature. None of these classical methodological frameworks, which render precise and systematise the more intuitive judgements prevalent in the scientific community, yields a favourable verdict on MOND and its successors--contrary to claims in the MOND-related literature by some of these theories' advocates; the respective theory appraisals are largely damning. Drawing on these insights, the paper's second part zooms in on the most common complaint about MONDian theories, their ad-hocness. We demonstrate how the recent coherentist model of ad-hocness captures, and fleshes out, the underlying---but too often insufficiently articulated---hunches underlying this critique. MONDian theories indeed come out as severely ad hoc: they do not cohere well with either theoretical or empirical-factual background knowledge. In fact, as our complementary comparison with the cosmological standard model's Dark Matter postulate shows, with respect to ad-hocness, MONDian theories fare worse than the cosmological standard model.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Duerr, Patrick M.patrick-duerr@gmx.de
Wolf, William J.william.wolf@philosophy.ox.ac.uk0000-0002-8754-3360
Keywords: Dark Matter, MOND, Ad-Hocness, Cosmology, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Mr. William Wolf
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2023 12:19
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2023 12:19
Item ID: 22233
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics > Astrophysics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Philosophers of Science
Specific Sciences > Physics > Relativity Theory
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 22 June 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/22233

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