Philosophy and Cosmology

Beisbart, Claus (2016). Philosophy and Cosmology. In: Humphreys, Paul (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Science. Oxford handbooks (pp. 817-835). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press

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Cosmological questions (e.g., how far the world extends and how it all began) have occupied humans for ages and given rise to numerous conjectures, both within and outside philosophy. To put to rest fruitless speculation, Kant argued that these questions move beyond the limits of human knowledge. This article begins with Kant’s doubts about cosmology and shows that his arguments presuppose unreasonably high standards on knowledge and unwarranted assumptions about space-time. As an analysis of the foundations of twentieth-century cosmology reveals, other worries about the discipline can be avoided too if the universe is modeled using Einstein’s general theory of relativity. There is now strong observational support for one particular model. However, due to underdetermination problems, the big cosmological questions cannot be fully answered using this model either. This opens the space for more speculative proposals again (e.g., that the universe is only part of a huge multiverse).

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Philosophy > Theoretical Philosophy

UniBE Contributor:

Beisbart, Claus


100 Philosophy
100 Philosophy > 110 Metaphysics
100 Philosophy > 120 Epistemology




Oxford handbooks


Oxford University Press




Claus Beisbart

Date Deposited:

19 Jul 2017 13:50

Last Modified:

19 Jul 2017 13:50

Uncontrolled Keywords:

space-time; general theory of relativity; models; underdetermination; multiverse; limits of knowledge; Kant; universe; cosmology




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