Reckoning the shape of everything: Underdetermination and cosmotopology

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 56 (3):541-557 (2005)
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Abstract

This paper offers a general characterization of underdetermination and gives a prima facie case for the underdetermination of the topology of the universe. A survey of several philosophical approaches to the problem fails to resolve the issue: the case involves the possibility of massive reduplication, but Strawson on massive reduplication provides no help here; it is not obvious that any of the rival theories are to be preferred on grounds of simplicity; and the usual talk of empirically equivalent theories misses the point entirely. (If the choice is underdetermined, then the theories are not empirically equivalent!) Yet the thought experiment is analogous to a live scientific possibility, and actual astronomy faces underdetermination of this kind. This paper concludes by suggesting how the matter can be resolved, either by localizing the underdetermination or by defeating it entirely. Introduction A brief preliminary Around the universe in 80 days Some attempts at resolving the problem 4.1 Indexicality 4.2 Simplicity 4.3 Empirical equivalence 4.4 Is this just a philosophers' fantasy? Move along... ...nothing to see here 6.1 Rules of repetition 6.2 Some possible replies Conclusion.

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P. D. Magnus
State University of New York, Albany

Citations of this work

A philosopher looks at string dualities.Dean Rickles - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 42 (1):54-67.
Dual theories: ‘Same but different’ or ‘different but same’?Dean Rickles - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 59:62-67.
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.
The Implementation, Interpretation, and Justification of Likelihoods in Cosmology.C. D. McCoy - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 62:19-35.
Underdetermination in Cosmology: an Invitation.Jeremy Butterfield - 2012 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):1-18.

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References found in this work

Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics.Peter F. Strawson - 1959 - London, England: Routledge. Edited by Wenfang Wang.
Individuals.P. F. Strawson - 1959 - Garden City, N.Y.: Routledge.
Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics.Peter Frederick Strawson - 1959 - London, England: Routledge. Edited by Wenfang Wang.

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