I argue that some important elements of the current cosmological model are 'conventionalist’ in the sense defined by Karl Popper. These elements include dark matter and dark energy; both are auxiliary hypotheses that were invoked in response to observations that falsified the standard model as it existed at the time. The use of conventionalist stratagems in response to unexpected observations implies that the field of cosmology is in a state of 'degenerating problemshift’ in the language of Imre Lakatos. I (...) show that the 'concordance’ argument, often put forward by cosmologists in support of the current paradigm, is weaker than the convergence arguments that were made in the past in support of the atomic theory of matter or the quantization of energy. (shrink)
These selections from Le système du monde, the classic ten-volume history of the physical sciences written by the great French physicist Pierre Duhem (1861-1916), focus on cosmology, Duhem's greatest interest. By reconsidering the work of such Arab and Christian scholars as Averroes, Avicenna, Gregory of Rimini, Albert of Saxony, Nicole Oresme, Duns Scotus, and William of Occam, Duhem demonstrated the sophistication of medieval science and cosmology.
Ever since Copernicus, scientists have continually adjusted their view of human nature, moving it further and further from its ancient position at the center of Creation. But in recent years, a startling new concept has evolved that places it more firmly than ever in a special position. Known as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, this collection of ideas holds that the existence of intelligent observers determines the fundamental structure of the Universe. In its most radical version, the Anthropic Principle asserts that (...) "intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and once it comes into existence, it will never die out." This wide-ranging and detailed book explores the many ramifications of the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, covering the whole spectrum of human inquiry from Aristotle to Z bosons. Bringing a unique combination of skills and knowledge to the subject, John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler--two of the world's leading cosmologists--cover the definition and nature of life, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, and the interpretation of the quantum theory in relation to the existence of observers. The book will be of vital interest to philosophers, theologians, mathematicians, scientists, and historians, as well as to anyone concerned with the connection between the vastness of the universe of stars and galaxies and the existence of life within it on a small planet out in the suburbs of the Milky Way. (shrink)
The cosmological constant is back. Several lines of evidence point to the conclusion that either there is a positive cosmological constant or else the universe is filled with a strange form of matter (“quintessence”) that mimics some of the effects of a positive lambda. This paper investigates the implications of the former possibility. Two senses in which the cosmological constant can be a constant are distinguished: the capital Λ sense in which lambda is a universal constant on a par with (...) the charge of the electron, and the lower case λ sense in which lambda is a humble constant of integration. The latter interpretation has been touted as the means to a solution to various problems in physics. These claims are critically examined with an eye to discerning the implications for philosophy of science and foundations of physics. (shrink)
We review the status of bouncing cosmologies as alternatives to cosmological inflation for providing a description of the very early universe, and a source for the cosmological perturbations which are observed today. We focus on the motivation for considering bouncing cosmologies, the origin of fluctuations in these models, and the challenges which various implementations face.
Two and a half thousand years ago Greek philosophers "looked up at the sky and formed a theory of everything." Though their solutions are little credited today, the questions remain fresh. Early Greek thinkers struggled to come to terms with and explain the totality of their surroundings, to identitify an original substance from which the universe was compounded, and to reconcile the presence of balance and proportion with the apparent disorder of the cosmos. M. R. Wright examines cosmological theories of (...) the "natural philosophers" from Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes to Plato, the Stoics and the NeoPlatonists. The importance of Babylonian and Egyptian forerunners is also emphasized. Cosmology in Antiquity is a comprehensive introduction to the cosmological thought in ancient times. (shrink)
Weinberg's 1972 work, in his description, had two purposes. The first was practical to bring together and assess the wealth of data provided over the previous decade while realizing that newer data would come in even as the book was being printed. He hoped the comprehensive picture would prepare the reader and himself to that new data as it emerged. The second was to produce a textbook about general relativity in which geometric ideas were not given a starring role for (...) (in his words) too great an emphasis on geometry can only obscure the deep connections between gravitation and the rest of physics. (shrink)
According to the scenario of cosmological artificial selection and artificial cosmogenesis, our universe was created and possibly even fine-tuned by cosmic engineers in another universe. This approach shall be compared to other explanations, and some far-reaching problems of it shall be discussed.
Although a great deal has been written on Plato's ethics, his cosmology has not received so much attention in recent times and its importance for his ethical thought has remained underexplored. By offering accounts of Timaeus, Philebus, Politicus and Laws X, the book reveals a strongly symbiotic relation between the cosmic and human sphere. It is argued that in his late period Plato presents a picture of an organic universe, endowed with structure and intrinsic value, which both urges our (...) respect and calls for our responsible intervention. Humans are thus seen as citizens of a university that can provide a context for their flourishing even in the absence of good political institutions. The book sheds light on many intricate metaphysical issues in late Plato and brings out the close connections between his cosmology and the development of his ethics. (shrink)
The article is devoted to the philosophy of cosmology, its history and contemporary conditions, the tradition of studying and modern trends in teaching this discipline in higher education in Ukraine. There is problem of defining the subject of philosophy of cosmology, there are similar and different motifs with modern astrophysics, cosmology on the one hand, and, with the history of philosophy and modern philosophy on the other hand. The change in the subject of the philosophy of (...) class='Hi'>cosmology in the history of philosophy and science has been studied in this article. A modern state of the philosophy of cosmology in modern philosophical education is demonstrated. (shrink)
The book adapts St. Thomas's Third Way of demonstrating the existence of God in light of contemporary issues in philosophy. Major topics in this study are causation, the principles of causation and sufficient reason, logical and real necessity, causation of the cosmos, and non-dependency of the cosmological on the ontological argument.
The book discusses the structure, content, and evaluation of cosmological arguments. The introductory chapter investigates features essential to cosmological arguments. Traditionally, cosmological arguments are distinguished by their appeal to change, causation, contingency or objective becoming in the world. But none of these is in fact essential to the formulation of cosmological arguments. Chapters 1-3 present a critical discussion of traditional Thomistic, Kalam, and Leibnizian cosmological arguments, noting various advantages and disadvantages of these approaches. Chapter 4 offers an entirely new approach (...) to the cosmological argument - the approach of theistic modal realism. The proper explananda of cosmological arguments on this approach is not change, causation, contingency or objective becoming in the world. The proper explananda is the totality of metaphysical reality - all actualia and all possibilia. The result is the most compelling and least objectionable version of the cosmological argument. (shrink)
We develop a Bayesian framework for thinking about the way evidence about the here and now can bear on hypotheses about the qualitative character of the world as a whole, including hypotheses according to which the total population of the world is infinite. We show how this framework makes sense of the practice cosmologists have recently adopted in their reasoning about such hypotheses.
This essay aims to provide a self-contained introduction to time in relativistic cosmology that clarifies both how questions about the nature of time should be posed in this setting and the extent to which they have been or can be answered empirically. The first section below recounts the loss of Newtonian absolute time with the advent of special and general relativity, and the partial recovery of absolute time in the form of cosmic time in some cosmological models. Section II (...) considers the beginning and end of time in a broader class of models in which there is not an analog of Newtonian absolute time. As we will see, reasonable physical assumptions imply that the universe is finite to the past, and Section III turns to consideration of the “beginning” itself. We critically review conventional wisdom that a “singularity” reveals flaws in general relativity and briefly assess ways of avoiding the singularity. (shrink)
In recent years, observational techniques at cosmological distances have been sufficiently improved that cosmology has become an empirical science, rather than a field for unchecked speculation. There remains the fact that its object, the whole universe, exists only once; hence, we are unable to separate “general” features from particular aspects of “our” universe. This might not be a serious drawback if we were justified in the belief that presently accepted laws of nature remain valid on the cosmological scale. In (...) the author's opinion, however, there are grounds for doubting that belief. The three arguments presented are (1) the possibility that apparent constants of nature may, during cosmological times, turn out to vary (Dirac conjecture); (2) the effective breakdown of the principle of relativity caused by the effects of the cosmological environment on local experiments; and (3) the fact that present theory leads to field singularities at the early stages of the expanding universe, which might be a signal that currently accepted theoretical concepts are inadequate for an understanding of highly condensed matter. (shrink)
I reply to Houston Craighead, who presents two arguments against my version of the cosmological argument. First, he argues that my arguments in defense of the causal principle in terms of the existence being accidental to an essence is fallacious because it begs the question. I respond that the objection itself is circular, and that it invokes the questionable contention that what is conceivable is possible. Against my contention that the causal principle might be intuitively known, I reply to his (...) contention that again I have begged the question. Begging the question is not applicable in that I have not argued that a denial of the principle it possible, only that if it be denied, other endeavors likewise become impossible. Second, against my contention that the causal principle is really necessary, he asserts that the necessity predicated of propositions is solely logical necessity. I reject his contention that a really necessary proposition must either be logically necessary or else a plain contingent factuality. (shrink)
I gratefully acknowledge and respond here to four reviews of my recent book, Cosmology from Alpha to Omega. Nancey Murphy stresses the importance of showing consistency between Christian theology and natural science through a detailed examination of my recent model of their creative interaction. She suggests how this model can be enhanced by adopting Alasdair MacIntyre's understanding of tradition in order to adjudicate between competing ways of incorporating science into a wider worldview. She urges the inclusion of ethics in (...) my model and predicts that this would successfully challenge the competing naturalist tradition in contemporary society. John F. Haught weighs the alternatives of viewing divine action as objective versus subjective and of divine action at one level in nature or at all levels. He asks whether physics is fundamental to nature, arguing instead that metaphysics should be considered as fundamental. Michael Ruse assesses occasional versus universal divine action, the problems raised to divine action when it is related to quantum mechanics, and the way these relations exacerbate the challenge of natural theodicy. As an alternative he suggests viewing God as outside time and acting through unbroken natural law. Willem B. Drees discusses my use of the bridge metaphor for the relation between theology and science, the implications when science is inspired by theology, the role of contingency and necessity in the anthropic principle/many-worlds debate, and the challenge of cosmology to eschatology with the ensuing problem of theodicy. (shrink)
During the last three decades, there has been a growing realization among physicists and cosmologists that the relation between particle physics and cosmology may constitute yet another successful example of the unity of science. However, there are important conceptual problems in the unification of the two disciplines, e.g. in connection with the cosmological constant and the conjecture of inflation. The present article will outline some of these problems, and argue that the victory for the unity of science in the (...) context of cosmology and particle physics is still far from obvious. (shrink)
Did the universe originate from a "big bang" as argued by leading astrophysicists and others? Or does some other theory more accurately describe its beginnings? Are there other forms of life in the universe? What about other universes? This volume discusses these and other topics in this hotly debated area where philosophy and science meet.
This radical reinterpretation of the formative stages of Chinese culture and history traces the central role played by cosmology in the formation of China's early empires. It crosses the disciplines of history, social anthropology, archaeology, and philosophy to illustrate how cosmological systems, particularly the Five Elements, shaped political culture. By focusing on dynamic change in early cosmology, the book undermines the notion that Chinese cosmology was homogenous and unchanging. By arguing that cosmology was intrinsic to power (...) relations, it also challenges prevailing theories of political and intellectual history. (shrink)
I investigate the role of stability in cosmology through two episodes from the recent history of cosmology: Einstein’s static universe and Eddington’s demonstration of its instability, and the flatness problem of the hot big bang model and its claimed solution by inflationary theory. These episodes illustrate differing reactions to instability in cosmological models, both positive ones and negative ones. To provide some context to these reactions, I also situate them in relation to perspectives on stability from dynamical systems (...) theory and its epistemology. This reveals, for example, an insistence on stability as an extreme position in relation to the spectrum of physical systems which exhibit degrees of stability and fragility, one which has a pragmatic rationale, but not any deeper one. (shrink)
We will give a new cosmological argument for the existence of a being who, although not proved to be the absolutely perfect God of the great Medieval theists, also is capable of playing the role in the lives of working theists of a being that is a suitable object of worship, adoration, love, respect, and obedience. Unlike the absolutely perfect God, the God whose necessary existence is established by our argument will not be shown to essentially have the divine perfections (...) of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, and sovereignty. Furthermore, it is not even shown that he is contingently omnipotent and omniscient, just powerful and intelligent enough to be the supernatural designer-creator of the exceedingly complex and wondrous cosmos that in fact.. (shrink)
I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates under-determination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I emphasise cosmology's concern with what data could in principle be collected by a single observer ; and I give a broadly sceptical discussion of cosmology's appeal to the cosmological principle as a way of breaking the under-determination.I confine most of the discussion to the history of the observable universe from about one second after the Big (...) Bang, as described by the mainstream cosmological model: in effect, what cosmologists in the early 1970s dubbed the ‘standard model’, as elaborated since then. But in the closing Section 4, I broach some questions about times earlier than one second. (shrink)
This article explores early Greeks' cosmological speculation, showing how they explored the possibility of a “theory of everything” and human understanding of the cosmos. In the exposition of competitive cosmologies, there are three questions still unresolved: the form of most of the matter in the universe is not known; the process of beginning of the universe is not known; and whether the universe is finite or infinite is also not known. Presocratic solutions to these problems, still perplexing to the contemporaries, (...) are tackled in this article, with the addition of a note on what is called the anthropic principle, which addresses the place of human life and human observation in the whole. (shrink)
In this article, we evaluate various responses to a noteworthy objection, namely, the infinite God objection to the kalām cosmological argument. As regards this objection, the proponents of the kalām argument face a dilemma—either an actual infinite cannot exist or God cannot be infinite. More precisely, this objection claims that God’s omniscience entails the existence of an actual infinite with God knowing an actually infinite number of future events or abstract objects, such as mathematical truths. We argue, however, that the (...) infinite God objection is based on two questionable assumptions, namely, that it is possible for an omniscient being to know an actually infinite number of things and that there exist an actually infinite number of abstract objects for God to know. (shrink)
Recent advances in string theory and inﬂationary cosmology have led to a surge of interest in the possible existence of an ensemble of cosmic regions, or “universes”, among the members of which key physical parameters, such as the masses of elementary particles and the coupling constants, might assume diﬀerent values. The observed values in our cosmic region are then attributed to an observer selection eﬀect (the so-called anthropic principle). The assemblage of universes has been dubbed “the multiverse”. In this (...) paper we review the multiverse concept and the criticisms that have been advanced against it on both scientiﬁc and philosophical grounds. (shrink)
Recently we presented a new special relativity theory for cosmology in which it was assumed that gravitation can be neglected and thus the bubble constant can be taken as a constant. The theory was presented in a six-dimensional hvperspace. three for the ordinary space and three for the velocities. In this paper we reduce our hyperspace to four dimensions by assuming that the three-dimensional space expands only radially, thus one is left with the three dimensions of ordinary space and (...) one dimension of the radial velocity. (shrink)
I point out a radical indeterminism in potential-based formulations of Newtonian gravity once we drop the condition that the potential vanishes at infinity. This indeterminism, which is well known in theoretical cosmology but has received little attention in foundational discussions, can be removed only by specifying boundary conditions at all instants of time, which undermines the theory's claim to be fully cosmological, i.e., to apply to the Universe as a whole. A recent alternative formulation of Newtonian gravity due to (...) Saunders pp.22-48) provides a conceptually satisfactory cosmology but fails to reproduce the Newtonian limit of general relativity in homogenous but anisotropic universes. I conclude that Newtonian gravity lacks a fully satisfactory cosmological formulation. (shrink)
The cosmological constant problem is widely viewed as an important barrier and hint to merging quantum field theory and general relativity. It is a barrier insofar as it remains unsolved, and a solution may hint at a fuller theory of quantum gravity. I critically examine the arguments used to pose the cosmological constant problem, and find many of the steps poorly justified. In particular, there is little reason to accept an absolute zero point energy scale in quantum field theory, and (...) standard calculations are badly divergent. It is also unclear exactly how a semiclassical treatment of gravity would include a vacuum energy contribution to the total stress-energy. Large classes of solution strategies are also found to be conceptually wanting. I conclude that one should not accept the cosmological constant problem as standardly stated. (shrink)
Robert Koons has recently defended what he claims is a successful argument for the existence of a necessary first cause, and which he develops by taking “a new look” at traditional arguments from contingency. I argue that Koons’ argument is less than successful; in particular, I claim that his attempt to “shift the burden of proof” to non-theists amounts to nothing more than an ill-disguised begging of one of the central questions upon which theists and non-theists disagree. I also argue (...) that his interesting attempt to bridge (part of) the familiar gap between the claim that there is a necessary first cause and the claim that God exists is beset with numerous difficulties. (shrink)
John Norton has recently argued that Newtonian gravitation theory (at least as applied to cosmological contexts where one envisions the possibility of a homogeneous mass distribution throughout all of space) is inconsistent. I am not convinced. Traditional formulations of the theory may seem to break down in cases of the sort Norton considers. But the difficulties they face are only apparent. They are artifacts of the formulations themselves, and disappear if one passes to the so-called "geometrized" formulation of the theory.
Cosmology has always been different from other areas of the natural sciences. Although an observationally supported standard model of the universe emerged in the 1960s, more speculative models and conceptions continued to attract attention. During the last decade, ideas of multiple universes based on anthropic reasoning have become very popular among cosmologists and theoretical physicists. This had led to a major debate within the scientific community of the epistemic standards of modern cosmology. Is the multiverse a scientific hypothesis, (...) or is it rather a philosophical speculation disguised as science? This paper offers a review of the recent and still ongoing controversy concerning the multiverse, emphasizing its foundational nature and relation to philosophical issues. It also compares the multiverse controversy to some earlier episodes in the history of twentieth-century cosmology when particular theories and approaches came under attack for betraying the ideals of proper science. (shrink)