My research focuses on the epistemic status of empirical evidence in cosmology. Due to the complexity of the evolution of the universe, and the exponential growth of cosmological and astrophysical observations throughout the 20th century, cosmology raises new questions about empirical evidence for philosophers of science. What epistemic justification underpins the generation of empirical data in a scientific field with a remote and exotic target? And how can that data be amalgamated or serve in theory testing? My work draws on and contributes to insights from general philosophy of science as well as to the nascent field of philosophy of cosmology.
Evidence Generation: Cosmology as an Integrative Science
I develop an account of cosmology as an integrative science by investigating the epistemic underpinnings of how empirical methods and lines of evidence can come to bear on cosmological model-building. The common challenges associated with integration are exacerbated in cosmology by the unknown nature of dark matter and dark energy, together 95% of the energy density of the universe. I highlight three challenges to successful integration in cosmology, and how cosmologists can respond to them.
Evidence Evaluation: Anomalies in Cosmology
A second research area is centered on anomalies in cosmology. Anomalies present a recurring challenge for philosophers of science: when does an apparent discrepancy between a theoretical prediction and an empirical observation or between different empirical observations constitute a genuine anomaly (and thus a problem for the theory), and are there contexts where it can temporarily be ignored for the pursuit of other goals? Although many attempts have been made in the past, it seems impossible to formulate universally applicable necessary and sufficient conditions to distinguish the two situations above. Instead, I draw on the history of cosmological practice to make headway on the question of anomalies.