Why trust a theory? Epistemology of fundamental physics

Cambridge University Press has recently published a volume edited by Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid, and Karim Thebault entitled Why Trust a Theory? Epistemology of Fundamental Physics. I have contributed a chapter to the effort, on “Philosophy of science and the string wars: a view from the outside,” which is available as free download here.

This is the description of the book: 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 Has the traditional scientific method become outdated, does it need to be defended against dangerous incursions, or has it always been different from what the canonical view suggests?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.

Suggested readings, #2

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

John Malkovich to star in a new movie as Stoic philosopher Seneca. (Screen Daily)

Are we witnessing the end of satire? The toxic disinformation of social media has rendered traditional forms of humor quaint and futile. (New York Times)

Will the link between space and time as told by modern physics ever be intuitive? I doubt it, but this article is more optimistic. (Nautilus)

Facebook offers UK users a whopping 71 options for their gender. A bit too much, perhaps? (The Telegraph) This is closer to my own thinking. (Aeon)

Oxford philosopher’s new hypothesis predicts the rise of super villains. Maybe. Or perhaps this is the sort of thing that gives philosophy a bad reputation. (TNW)

Suggested readings, #1

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across recently, for your consideration:

Vladimir Nabokov, literary refugee. (New York Times)

A New study questions Judith Butler’s famous contention that “male” and “female” are merely social constructs. (Psychology Today)

Was the real Socrates more amorous than we knew? (Aeon)

Warning: this friendship has been digitized. (New York Times)

Big Gods came after the rise of civilization, not before. (The Conversation)


Welcome on Green Road SignWelcome to my personal page and blog. Here you will find updated lists of my books, my public outreach articles, my technical papers, and related materials.

I will also publish occasional updates on my podcasts and more substantive blog posts, as well as announcements of public activity such as appearances to conferences, solo talks, and so forth.

To get us started, here is my main blog, Figs in Winter (118 articles and counting), devoted to practical philosophy. And here is my almost daily podcast, Stoic Meditations (343 episodes and counting). Plenty to read and listen to.

Thanks for checking the page out, I hope you’ll keep returning for more!