Scientific article
Open access

The landscape and the multiverse: What's the problem?

Published inSynthese, vol. 199, no. 3-4, p. 7749-7771
Publication date2021-04-18
First online date2021-04-18

As a candidate theory of quantum gravity, the popularity of string theory has waxed and waned over the past four decades. One current source of scepticism is that the theory can be used to derive, depending upon the input geometrical assumptions that one makes, a vast range of different quantum field theories, giving rise to the so-called landscape problem. One apparent way to address the landscape problem is to posit the existence of a multiverse; this, however, has in turn drawn heightened attention to questions regarding the empirical testability and predictivity of string theory. We argue first that the landscape problem relies on dubious assumptions and does not motivate a multiverse hypothesis. Nevertheless, we then show that the multiverse hypothesis is scientifically legitimate and could be coupled to string theory for other empirical reasons. Looking at various cosmological approaches, we offer an empirical criterion to assess the scientific status of multiverse hypotheses.

  • Multiverse
  • Landscape
  • String model
  • Quantum gravity
  • Field theory
Citation (ISO format)
READ, James, LE BIHAN, Baptiste. The landscape and the multiverse: What’s the problem? In: Synthese, 2021, vol. 199, n° 3-4, p. 7749–7771. doi: 10.1007/s11229-021-03137-0
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0039-7857

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