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A Critical Look at Inflationary Cosmology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 April 2022

John Earman*
Affiliation:
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh
Jesus Mosterin*
Affiliation:
Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh; Institute of Philosophy, CSIC (Madrid)

Abstract

Inflationary cosmology won a large following on the basis of the claim that it solves various problems that beset the standard big bang model. We argue that these problems concern not the empirical adequacy of the standard model but rather the nature of the explanations it offers. Furthermore, inflationary cosmology has not been able to deliver on its proposed solutions without offering models which are increasingly complicated and contrived, which depart more and more from the standard model it was supposed to improve upon, and which sever the connection between cosmology and particle physics that initially made the inflationary paradigm so attractive. Nevertheless, inflationary cosmology remains a promising research program, not least because it offers an explanation of the origin of the density perturbations that seeded the formation of galaxies and other cosmic structures. Tests of this explanation are underway and may settle the issue of whether inflation played an important role in the early universe.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © 1999 by the Philosophy of Science Association

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Footnotes

Send requests for reprints to the senior author, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.

We wish to thank Al Janis, Roberto Torretti, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments on an earlier draft.

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