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Why Trust a Theory?


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid and Karim Thébault; 2. Fundamental theories and epistemic shifts: can history of science serve as a guide? Helge Kragh; 3. Scientific speculation – a pragmatic approach Peter Achinstein; 4. Assessing scientific theories Radin Dardashti and Stephan Hartmann; 5. Philosophy of science and the string wars: a view from the outside Massimo Pigliucci; 6. The significance of non-empirical confirmation in fundamental physics Richard Dawid; 7. The dangers of non-empirical confirmation Carlo Rovelli; 8. No alternative to proliferation Daniele Oriti; 9. Physics without experiments? Radin Dardashti; 10. Scientific methodology: a view from early string theory Elena Castellani; 11. What can we learn from analogue experiments? Karim Thébault; 12. Are black holes about information? Christian Wuthrich; 13. The limits of cosmology Joseph Silk; 14. The role of cosmology in modern physics Bjorn Malte Schafer; 15. Theory confirmation and multiverses George Ellis; 16. Beyond falsifiability: normal science in a multiverse Sean Carroll; 17. Gaining access to the early universe Chris Smeenk; 18. String theory to the rescue Joseph Polchinski; 19. Why trust a theory? Some further remarks Joseph Polchinski; 20. The dangerous irrelevance of string theory Eva Silverstein; 21. String/M-theories about our world are testable in the traditional physics way Gordon Kane; 22. Is string phenomenology an oxymoron? Fernando Quevedo.

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Presents a collection of essays from leading physicists, philosophers and historians of science providing perspectives on the epistemic status of fundamental physics.

About the Author

Radin Dardashti is Junior Professor in Philosophy of Physics at the University of Wuppertal. His research focuses on the various methods used in theory development and assessment in modern physics. Richard Dawid is Professor of Philosophy of Science at Stockholm University. His research focuses on epistemic issues in contemporary, fundamental physics. He is the author of String Theory and the Scientific Method (Cambridge, 2013). Karim Thébault is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Science at the University of Bristol. His research interests are principally within the Philosophy of Physics, with an emphasis on classical and quantum theories of gravity.


'Anyone interested in current speculations about fundamental physics, in particular debates about its methodology and justification, will find much fascinating reading here.' Casey McCoy, The Observatory Magazine

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