Massimi, Michela. The origins of the universe: laws, testability and observability in cosmology
Summary: How did our universe form and evolve? Was there really a Big Bang, and what came before it? This chapter takes the reader through the history of contemporary cosmology and looks at how scientists arrived at the current understanding of our universe. It explores the history of astronomy, with the nebular hypothesis back in the eighteenth century, and in more recent times, Einstein’s general relativity and the ensuing cosmological models. Finally, it explains the current Standard Model and early universe cosmology as well as the experimental evidence behind it.
Comment: This chapter could be used as an introductory reading to philosophy of cosmology. It provides a general overview of the history of cosmology and of the philosophical problems (laws, uniqueness, observability) that stood in the way of cosmology becoming a science. It is recommendable for undergraduate courses.
Massimi, Michela. What are dark matter and dark energy?
Summary: According to the currently accepted model in cosmology, our universe is made up of 5% of ordinary matter, 25% cold dark matter, and 70% dark energy. But what kind of entities are dark matter and dark energy? This chapter asks what the evidence for these entities is and which rival theories are currently available. This provides with an opportunity to explore a well-known philosophical problem known as under-determination of theory by evidence.
Comment: This Chapter could serve as an introduction to contemporary cosmology and particle physics or as an example to illustrate the problem of under-determination of theory by evidence. The chapter looks at alternative theories that explain the same experimental evidence without recourse to the hypothesis of dark matter and dark energy and discusses the rationale for choosing between rival research programs. Like the rest of the chapters in this book, it is a reading recommendable for undergraduate students. It is recommended to read it after Chapter 2 of the same book.