Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Chimera of the cosmos
by Hatleback, Eric Nelson, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2014, 170; 3647982
Abstract (Summary)

Multiverse cosmology exhibits unique epistemic problems because it posits the existence of universes inaccessible from our own. Since empirical investigation is not possible, philosophical investigation takes a prominent role. The inaccessibility of the other universes causes argumentation for the multiverse hypothesis to be wholly dependent upon typicality assumptions that relate our observed universe to the unobserved universes. The necessary reliance on typicality assumptions results in the Multiverse Circularity Problem: the multiverse hypothesis is justified only through invoking typicality assumptions, but typicality assumptions are justified only through invoking the multiverse hypothesis. The unavoidability of the circularity is established through argumentation for each of the two conjuncts that comprise it.

Historical investigation proves the first conjunct of the Multiverse Circularity Problem. Detailed study of the now-neglected tradition of multiverse thought shows that philosophers and scientists have postulated the multiverse hypothesis with regularity, under different names, since antiquity. The corpus of argumentation for the existence of the multiverse breaks cleanly into three distinct argument schemas: implication from physics, induction, and explanation. Each of the three argument schemas is shown to be fully reliant upon unsupported typicality assumptions. This demonstrates that the multiverse hypothesis is justified only through invoking typicality assumptions.

Philosophical assessment of cosmological induction establishes the second conjunct of the Multiverse Circularity Problem. Independent justification for typicality assumptions is not forthcoming. The obvious candidate, enumerative induction, fails: Hume’s attack against inference through time is extended to inference through space. This move undercuts external justification for typicality assumptions, such as the Cosmological Principle, which cosmologists implement to justify induction. Removing the legitimacy of enumerative induction shows that typicality assumptions are justified only through invoking the multiverse hypothesis, thereby establishing the Multiverse Circularity Problem.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Norton, John D.
School: University of Pittsburgh
Department: History and Philosophy of Science
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy of Science
Keywords: Cosmology, Multiverse, Problem of induction
Publication Number: 3647982
ISBN: 978-1-321-42548-2
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