On the Use of 'Universe' in Cosmology

The Monist 48 (2):185-194 (1964)

A common characterization of scientific cosmology is to say that it is a study of the universe as a whole, or of the large-scale properties of the universe. A major problem in the clarification of the conceptual foundations of this discipline is connected with the use of the terms ‘universe’ or ‘universe-as-a-whole’. Is the universe the same as the observed or observable universe, or should a distinction be drawn between what is open to observation and what might in some sense be said to lie beyond what is observable? What are the roles played by both observation and theory in describing or construing what the universe is? Are models of the universe to be thought of as in some way articulating the structure of the universe itself? What is the universe itself? Is it a unique whole? Does it have a structure? Are we justified in making use of such a concept at all?
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest  Philosophy of Mind  Philosophy of Science
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ISBN(s) 0026-9662
DOI 10.5840/monist196448211
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