Orthodoxy and its Alternatives in Modern Cosmology
University of Belgrade
The existence and destiny of alternative accounts of phenomena across scientific fields is a complex issue at the heart of scientific knowledge production and the discovery process. In the sciences that cannot rely on experiments but must reconstruct evidence from observations, the epistemic standing of the orthodox approach is often closely tied to the epistemic standing of available alternatives. It should not be surprising, then, that counter to widespread beliefs, the development of the main-stream (hot Big Bang) cosmological model is intertwined with numerous alternative models. Despite popular perceptions, even the milestone discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation is not analogous to the “hard evidence” obtained, for example, in particle physics through particle colliders. The latter is a much more direct sort of evidence that severely constrains theoretical accounts of relevant phenomena, while the evidential basis of the former has unfolded much more gradually. In general, the space for plausible alternative models of relevant phenomena is substantially wider, and the underdetermination of these models by evidence much more pronounced and longer-lasting in cosmology than in experimental sub-fields of physics.
SLOBODAN PEROVIĆ is an Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Belgrade. He has worked and published on history and philosophy of quantum mechanics, epistemology of experiments in particle physics, metaphysical issues in modern biology, and history and philosophy of modern cosmology. He is a convener of an international conference series on the philosophy of scientific experimentation (PSX) and recently initiated an international interdisciplinary research group, OPTMIST, studying the epistemic implications of complex organizational structures of large scientific laboratories. This event is organised by the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in collaboration with the Humane Philosophy Project, with sponsorship from the John Templeton Foundation and the Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw.