Posts tagged ‘chaotic inflation’

September 5th, 2011

Living in the Multiverse–Is it Science?

by Max Andrews

Is the multiverse hypothesis a legitimate scientific theory?  That is, are there regularities that illuminate and reflect underlying laws of nature by testing these laws and making predictions that can be either verified or refuted by experimentation and observation?  Generally, these are the guidelines for something to be scientific, can it be verified and falsified?  Before I continue, we need to make a distinction in two fundamental philosophies of science: instrumentalism and realism.

Instrumentalism:  Scientific theories are not intended to be literally true and accepting a theory requires us to believe only that its observational consequences are true.  Observation statements are literally true and science is only about these statements and the observations that verify them.  A few strengths of this philosophy is that it doesn’t conflict with common sense realism; we can believe in straightforward observations.  Plus, it’s more modest and non-commital than scientific realism.  A few weaknesses are that scientists seem to assume the realist view of the world in their “un-thinking” moments.  The instrumentalist should be able to draw a clear cut distinction between what is and what is not observable, which creates limitations on what really is observable (i.e. naked eye, magnifying glass, microscope, electron microscope, cloud chamber, etc.). This also raises the question, at what point is the objecting being observed really being observed, and so real, but then one bit smaller is not observable and thus not really existent?

Scientific Realism:  Scientific theories are intended to be literally true, and accepting a theory involves believing that it gives a true description of reality, “as it really is.”  A few strengths of this is that it makes the aspect of explanatory power superior to instrumentalism because explanation requires real things that cause the chain of causality.  Explanation by means of fictitious entity is not explanation at all.  Instrumentalism cannot explain the actual success of science, especially science’s making predictions, which are empirically adequate (i.e. Boyles-Charles Law, pv=k).

I’m going to argue that we should adopt the realist position partly because it is common sense and because it means and ends in explanation provide a robust sense of explanatory power that lacks instrumentalism and the metaphysical baggage it may carry is less deleterious than instrumentalism.

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August 1st, 2011

Anthropic Reasoning and the Illusion of Intelligent Design

by Max Andrews

I’m currently doing research for my graduate thesis on the fine-tuning of the multiverse and I was reading an essay by Alan Guth titled “Eternal Inflation and Its Implications.”  I’m not a physicist nor do I have much formal training in the sciences.  Most of what I know is self-learned (and that’s not saying too much).  I waded through Guth’s equations and arrived at what implications Guth found in inflationary cosmology.  This is more my field–applying theory and interpreting the data.  What I found interesting.

I admire Guth for his attempt to not invoke unnecessary explanatory entities or hypotheses; however, at what point and extent in theory does an explanation become unnecessary or even illusory?  He states, “Anthropic reasoning can give the illusion of intelligent design without the need for intelligent intervention.” This anthropic reasoning asks the question, “Why is it the case that we find the parameters for life so finely-tuned?”  Guth takes the physical sciences as far as they are able to go in an attempt to give an account for the fine-tuning of the universe, an attempt he believes the multiverse is able to sufficiently account for without intelligent design.  Sure, that’s fine with me, it’s still a question of theory.  At what point does the best explanation become the best explanation?  It appears that the best explanation is intelligent design but according to Guth (and Leonard Susskind, whom Guth cites) this is actually an illusion.  What is the criteria for labeling one explanation as illusory when the methodology (even methodological naturalism) is the same?  There is certainly more to be said but the philosophy behind this is eschew.