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 of the 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 if the 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 life- permitting. Proponents of the 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 examine the fine-tuning argument critically, paying careful attention to the various philosophy of science issues that are raised in discussions of this argument. The product will include a book arguing that (with some qualifications) no version of the fine-tuning argument is successful. A goal of the 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 the research has an impact beyond the community of academic philosophers. The book will be written 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). Underrepresented minority undergraduates from University of Kentucky and undergraduates from area non-Ph.D. granting institutions will be recruited to work on the research. In conjunction with the UK physics department and the Gaines Center for the Humanities, there will be a conference on philosophy and cosmology, which will be accessible to students and non-academics. Additionally, a debate will be organized by UK's Veritas Forum, an annual student-run Christian speaker series. Finally, there will be lectures presented at various places, such as Asbury College and the historically black Kentucky State University.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Social and Economic Sciences (SES)
Standard Grant (Standard)
Application #
Program Officer
Ronald Rainger
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Kentucky
United States
Zip Code