The Fine-Tuning Argument

  • Monton, Bradley (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Proponents of the fine-tuning argument believe that facts from physics about the nature of the universe can give insight into traditional philosophical issues such as whether God exists and whether other worlds exist. Specifically, they maintain that at least some ofthe fundamental constants (such as the masses of the fundamental particles and the strength ratios between the fundamental forces) are finely tuned for life, in that ifthe constants had slightly different values life could not exist. Proponents of the theistic fine-tuning argument conclude from this that an intelligent designer such as God exists, and this designer designed the universe so as to be lifepermitting. Proponents ofthe many-worlds fine-tuning argument, on the other hand, conclude from this that our universe is one of many existing universes, with different sets of fundamental constants (and perhaps laws) obtaining in the different universes. The PI plans to critically examine the fine-tuning argument, paying careful attention to the various philosophy of science issues that get raised in discussions of this argument. He will write a book arguing that (with some qualifications) no version of the fine-tuning argument is successful. A goal ofthe PI's research is to gain insight into various issues in philosophy of science that surround the fine-tuning argument. These include issues in probability theory, such as the problem of old evidence, Bayesian versus non-Bayesian versions of inference, and probability theory as it relates to self-locating beliefs (as in for example the Doomsday argument). Non-probabilistic issues include possible-worlds representations of modality, and various controversies involving explanation, including the viability of inference to the best explanation. The PI will ensure that his research has an impact beyond the community of academic philosophers. He will write his book in such a way that it is accessible to someone without training in philosophy (though it will be more advanced than, say, a popular science book). He will recruit underrepresented minority undergraduates from University of Kentucky to work with him on his research, and he will also recruit undergraduates from area non-Ph.D. granting institutions to work with him. In conjunction with the UK physics department and the Gaines Center for the Humanities, he will organize a conference on philosophy and cosmology which will be accessible to students and non-academics. He will participate in a debate organized by UK's Veritas Forum, an annual student-run Christian speaker series. Also, he plans to give talks at various places, such as Asbury College and the historically black Kentucky State University.
Effective start/end date8/15/047/31/05


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