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What’s the Problem with the Cosmological Constant?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


The “Cosmological Constant Problem” (CCP) is widely considered a crisis in contemporary theoretical physics. Unfortunately, the search for its resolution is hampered by open disagreement about what is, strictly, the problem. This disagreement stems from the observation that the CCP is not a problem within any of our current theories, and nearly all of the details of those future theories for which the CCP could be made a problem are up for grabs. Given this state of affairs, I discuss how one ought to make sense of the role of the CCP in physics and generalize some lessons from it.

Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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I would like to thank James Owen Weatherall and Erik Curiel for their steering comments on earlier drafts of this article. I am also grateful for the many questions and comments from members of the Southern California Philosophy of Physics reading group, as well as for the positive reception of the paper at the Philosophy of Logic, Math, and Physics graduate student conference at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy at Western University. Finally, I am indebted to Jeffrey Barrett, JB Manchak, Hannah Rubin, Kyle Stanford, and John Earman, as well as to an anonymous reviewer and an editor for pushing me to make my punch lines clearer. This article is partially based on work done while funded as a graduate student researcher under two John Templeton Foundation grants: “Laws, Methods, and Minds in Cosmology” (grant no. 59773) and “New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology” (grant no. 61048).


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