Measure, Topology and Probabilistic Reasoning in Cosmology

Publication Year:
2014
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Repository URL:
http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/11071
Author(s):
Curiel, Erik
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preprint description
I explain the difficulty of making various concepts of and relating to probability precise, rigorous and physically significant when attempting to apply them in reasoning about objects (e.g., spacetimes) living in infinite-dimensional spaces, working through many examples from cosmology. I focus on the relation of topological to measure-theoretic notions of and relating to probability, how they diverge in unpleasant ways in the infinite-dimensional case, and are even difficult to work with on their own. Even in cases where an appropriate family of spacetimes is finite-dimensional, and so admits a measure of the relevant sort, however, it is always the case that the family is not a compact topological space, and so does not admit a physically significant, well behaved probability measure. Problems of a different but still deeply troubling sort plague arguments about likelihood in that context, which I also discuss. I conclude that most standard forms of argument used in cosmology to estimate the likelihood of the occurrence of various properties or behaviors of spacetimes have serious mathematical, physical and conceptual problems.

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