Underdetermination in Cosmology: an Invitation

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Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume, ISSN: 0309-7013, Vol: 86, Issue: 1, Page: 1-18

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Butterfield, Jeremy
Oxford University Press (OUP)
article description
I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates under-determination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I confine 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. Or rather, the discussion is confined to a (very!) few aspects of that history. I emphasise that despite the under-determination, a scientific realist can, and should, endorse this description.