‘Oumuamua and meta-empirical confirmation

Foundations of Physics 52 (4):1-21 (2022)
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Abstract

Astrophysicist Abraham Loeb suggests that the interstellar interloper 1I/2017 ‘Oumuamua, detected in our solar system in 2017, is alien space debris or even an alien operational probe. Does this conjecture have significant epistemic support, such that it can be justified as a viable hypothesis? In this paper, I propose that the meta-empirical confirmation approach, developed and defended by philosopher and physicist Dawid, provides an appropriate framework to answer this question. I defend this proposal by elucidating how meta-empirical confirmation applies to the ‘Oumuamua case and what specific meta-empirical arguments could support Loeb’s hypothesis. Even though Loeb would not himself endorse meta-empirical confirmation, because it is not traditional empiricism, this case shows that meta-empirical confirmation is not in fact a threat to empiricism.

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Vera Matarese
University of Bern

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References found in this work

String Theory and the Scientific Method.Richard Dawid - 2013 - Cambridge University Press.
The Significance of Non-Empirical Confirmation in Fundamental Physics.Richard Dawid - 2019 - In Radin Dardashti, Richard Dawid & Karim Thebault (eds.), Why Trust a Theory? Epistemology of ModernPhysics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 99-119.
Delimiting the Unconceived.Richard Dawid - 2018 - Foundations of Physics 48 (5):492-506.
Meta-Empirical Support for Eliminative Reasoning.C. D. McCoy - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90:15-29.

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