Underdetermination in Cosmology: An Invitation



I discuss how modern cosmology illustrates underdetermination of theoretical hypotheses by data, in ways that are different from most philosophical discussions. I confine the discussion to the history of the observable universe from about one second after the Big Bang, as described by the mainstream cosmological model: in effect, what cosmologists in the early 1970s dubbed the ‘standard model’, as elaborated since then. Or rather, the discussion is confined to a (very!) few aspects of that history. I emphasize that despite the underdetermination, a scientific realist can, and should, endorse this description.