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Why Trust a Theory?
Epistemology of Fundamental Physics


Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid, Karim Thébault, Helge Kragh, Peter Achinstein, Stephan Hartmann, Massimo Pigliucci, Carlo Rovelli, Daniele Oriti, Elena Castellani, Christian Wuthrich, Joseph Silk, Bjorn Malte Schafer, George Ellis, Sean Carroll, Chris Smeenk, Joseph Polchinski, Eva Silverstein, Gordon Kane, Fernando Quevedo
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  • Date Published: March 2019
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108470957

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About the Authors
  • Do we need to reconsider scientific methodology in light of modern physics? Has the traditional scientific method become outdated, does it need to be defended against dangerous incursions, or has it always been different from what the canonical view suggests? To what extent should we accept non-empirical strategies for scientific theory assessment? Many core aspects of contemporary fundamental physics are far from empirically well-confirmed. There is controversy on the epistemic status of the corresponding theories, in particular cosmic inflation, the multiverse, and string theory. This collection of essays is based on the high profile workshop 'Why Trust a Theory?' and provides interdisciplinary perspectives on empirical testing in fundamental physics from leading physicists, philosophers and historians of science. Integrating different contemporary and historical positions, it will be of interest to philosophers of science and physicists, as well as anyone interested in the foundations of contemporary science.

    • Discussion is based on in-person interactions between the contributors at the landmark workshop 'Why Trust a Theory?', providing a lively and engaging debate
    • Interdisciplinary contributors ensure a balanced argument in tune with the latest developments in their fields
    • Discusses the question of trust in contemporary fundamental physics, which is of crucial importance for the future of the field and, more broadly, the future development of science
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Anyone interested in current speculations about fundamental physics, in particular debates about its methodology and justification, will find much fascinating reading here.' Casey McCoy, The Observatory Magazine

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108470957
    • length: 446 pages
    • dimensions: 254 x 179 x 24 mm
    • weight: 1.05kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid and Karim Thébault
    2. Fundamental theories and epistemic shifts: can history of science serve as a guide? Helge Kragh
    3. Scientific speculation – a pragmatic approach Peter Achinstein
    4. Assessing scientific theories Radin Dardashti and Stephan Hartmann
    5. Philosophy of science and the string wars: a view from the outside Massimo Pigliucci
    6. The significance of non-empirical confirmation in fundamental physics Richard Dawid
    7. The dangers of non-empirical confirmation Carlo Rovelli
    8. No alternative to proliferation Daniele Oriti
    9. Physics without experiments? Radin Dardashti
    10. Scientific methodology: a view from early string theory Elena Castellani
    11. What can we learn from analogue experiments? Karim Thébault
    12. Are black holes about information? Christian Wuthrich
    13. The limits of cosmology Joseph Silk
    14. The role of cosmology in modern physics Bjorn Malte Schafer
    15. Theory confirmation and multiverses George Ellis
    16. Beyond falsifiability: normal science in a multiverse Sean Carroll
    17. Gaining access to the early universe Chris Smeenk
    18. String theory to the rescue Joseph Polchinski
    19. Why trust a theory? Some further remarks Joseph Polchinski
    20. The dangerous irrelevance of string theory Eva Silverstein
    21. String/M-theories about our world are testable in the traditional physics way Gordon Kane
    22. Is string phenomenology an oxymoron? Fernando Quevedo.

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    Why Trust a Theory?

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  • Editors

    Radin Dardashti, University of Wuppertal
    Radin Dardashti is Junior Professor in Philosophy of Physics at the University of Wuppertal. His research focuses on the various methods used in theory development and assessment in modern physics.

    Richard Dawid, Stockholm University
    Richard Dawid is Professor of Philosophy of Science at Stockholm University. His research focuses on epistemic issues in contemporary, fundamental physics. He is the author of String Theory and the Scientific Method (Cambridge, 2013).

    Karim Thébault, University of Bristol
    Karim Thébault is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol. His research interests are principally within the Philosophy of Physics, with an emphasis on classical and quantum theories of gravity.


    Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid, Karim Thébault, Helge Kragh, Peter Achinstein, Stephan Hartmann, Massimo Pigliucci, Carlo Rovelli, Daniele Oriti, Elena Castellani, Christian Wuthrich, Joseph Silk, Bjorn Malte Schafer, George Ellis, Sean Carroll, Chris Smeenk, Joseph Polchinski, Eva Silverstein, Gordon Kane, Fernando Quevedo

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