Methodology and Epistemology in Cosmology

February 10, 2017 - February 12, 2017
Logic & Philosophy of Science, School of Social Sciences at University of California, Irvine

Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway Room 1517
5548 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
Irvine 92697-7075
United States

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


  • Rotman Institute of Philosophy, Western University
  • School of Social Sciences, University of California, Irvine
  • Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of California, Irvine
  • John Templeton Foundation

All speakers:

Kev Abazajian
University of California, Irvine
Anthony Aguirre
University of California, Santa Cruz
Andreas Albrecht
University of California, Davis
Feraz Azhar
Cambridge University
James Bullock
University of California, Irvine
Anna Ijjas
Princeton University
Manoj Kaplinghat
University of California, Irvine
Barry Madore
Carnegie Observatories
Ashley Perko
Stanford University
Sarah Shandera
Pennsylvania State University
Chris Smeenk
University of Western Ontario
Eric Winsberg
University of South Florida
Claudia de Rham
Case Western Reserve University
Frank van den Bosch
Yale University

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The twenty first century has, thus far, been a period of rapid progress in cosmology. And yet this very success has begun to expose the limits of current methods and forced cosmologists to explore new ways of learning about the universe and its history. At this conference, we will explore three related areas where methodological innovation has been called for, and where it has already begun. One theme will concern the epistemology of inflation. Does inflationary cosmology inexorably lead us to postulate a multiverse where anything that can happen does happen? And if so, what does it mean to test a theory that is compatible with anything we might observe? Or can we treat inflation as a more conventional theory, with unambiguous observational signatures? A second theme will concern dark matter and dark energy. We have inferred the existence of these entities by comparing observational evidence with models of general relativity. But one might just as well infer, from the behavior of the visible matter in the universe, that general relativity breaks down at cosmological (or even galactic) length scales. What are the prospects for alternatives to general relativity at cosmological scales? How might cosmology be used to test general relativity? The final theme will concern the role of simulation in our understanding of the history of the actual universe. Can simulations be used to test theories of the early universe? Do they provide an independent source of information about cosmology, or are they an intermediary between theory and observation?

Schedule and abstracts will be available soon.

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