Popper's views of theory formation compared with the development of post-relativistic cosmological models
Leith, Thomas Henry
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This dissertation confronts contemporary physical cosmology with Karl Popper's standards of scientific method and theory construction. To the degree to which there are differences, an attempt is made to criticize the major cosmological models in the light of Popper's analysis and, in turn, to explore revisions necessitated in this analysis by the unique problems of cosmology. As background, the major facets of Popper's work are presented in detail: his falsifiability criterion for demarcating scientific theories from metaphysics, his hypothetico-deductive method, and his rejection of induction. Then the origins of general relativity and its competitors are analyzed both as explanatory background to modern cosmology and so as to reveal the history of certain problems pertinent to Popper's scheme: for instance, the use of arguments from simplicity, the ideas of the utility of analogy and models, and the relation of theory to reality. Finally, the great variety of evolutionary, fundamentalistic, and steady-state models available for study is explored in detail as to presupposition and methodology so that their distinctives are revealed and a basis for comparison with Popper's suggestions provided. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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