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date: 11 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

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).

Keywords: space-time, general theory of relativity, models, underdetermination, multiverse, limits of knowledge, Kant, universe, cosmology

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