According to our best cosmological model ‘dark matter’ makes up ≈80% of the total mass of the universe. But what is dark matter, and in what sense are we justified in positing its existence? This project will explore the philosophical underpinnings of scientific theorizing about dark matter. The project is necessary to conceptually clarify the connections and tensions between various scientific projects concerned with the dark matter problem, thereby ensuring that scientists share common concepts in such theorizing avoiding cross talk and conceptual confusion. Moreover, given the epistemic and ontological idiosyncrasies associated with dark matter, and the variety of epistemic standards invoked by the scientific disciplines involved, this project will first explicate, and second evaluate, what justifies our belief in dark matter.
Amsterdam & Stockholm
The main part of this research - two years - will be carried out at the Institute of Physics in Amsterdam. Their expertise in cosmology and astrophysics, as well as in history of science motivates a thematic organization of the research around these fields. The remaining time will be spent at the philosophy department in Stockholm, where research focus will be on extracting philosophical implications for scientific theories that are affected by the scarcity of empirical data. Given the expectation that theories in physics will continue to be so affected, the project is of vital significance.