Does inflation solve the hot big bang model's fine-tuning problems?

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Abstract

Cosmological inflation is widely considered an integral and empirically successful component of contemporary cosmology. It was originally motivated (and usually still is) by its solution of certain so-called fine-tuning problems of the hot big bang model, particularly what are known as the horizon problem and the flatness problem. Although the physics behind these problems is clear enough, the nature of the problems depends on the sense in which the hot big bang model is fine-tuned and how the alleged fine-tuning is problematic. Without clear explications of these, it remains unclear precisely what problems inflationary theory is meant to be solving and whether it does in fact solve them. I analyze the structure of these problems and consider various interpretations that may substantiate the alleged fine-tuning. On the basis of this analysis I argue that at present there is no unproblematic interpretation available for which it can be said that inflation solves the big bang model's alleged fine-tuning problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-36
Number of pages14
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B - Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics
Volume51
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Aug 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was partly undertaken during a year at the University of Vienna as a Fulbright-Mach grantee. I gratefully acknowledge the support of the Faculty of Philosophy, the Austrian-American Educational Commission, and the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (Grant no. ICM-2013-03971). I also thank two reviewers for their many helpful suggestions which greatly improved this paper, and the members of the Southern California Philosophy of Physics Group to whom some of this material was presented. I would also like to thank Craig Callender, Richard Dawid, John Dougherty, Kerry McKenzie, Christian Wüthrich, and members of the “Fine-Tuning Group” at Radboud University Nijmegen for valuable comments and discussion.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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