14/01/2021 – Siska De Baerdemaeker: Method-driven experiments and the search for dark matter

Abstract:

Since the discovery of dark matter in the 1980s, multiple experiments have been set up to detect dark matter particles through some other interaction than gravity–despite the fact that the only available evidence for dark matter’s existence is through its gravitational effects. I show that the justifications for why these experiments should be able to detect dark matter take on a different structure than what is often the case in experimental practice. By illuminating this ‘method-driven logic’, I shed new light on questions surrounding measurement robustness and methodological pluralism in context of dark matter research.

Biographical information:

Siska De Baerdemaeker is a postdoctoral researcher at Stockholm University, working with Richard Dawid on a project on “Non-Empirical Theory Confirmation in Fundamental Physics”. She previously received her PhD in History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Pittsburgh (USA) in 2020. She completed an M.A. in philosophy and a B.Sc. in physics at KU Leuven (Belgium).

Her primary interests lie in philosophy of cosmology, philosophy of physics and general philosophy of science, with a focus on the epistemic status of empirical evidence in cosmology. Due to the complexity of the evolution of the universe, and the exponential growth of cosmological and astrophysical observations throughout the 20th century, cosmology raises new questions about empirical evidence for philosophers of science. What epistemic justification underpins the generation of empirical data in a scientific field with a remote and exotic target? And how can that data be amalgamated or serve in theory testing? Her work draws on and contributes to insights from general philosophy of science as well as to the nascent field of philosophy of cosmology.

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