Abstract

I investigate the role of stability in cosmology through two episodes from the history of cosmology: (1) Einstein’s static universe and Eddington’s demonstration of its instability, and (2) the flatness problem of the hot big bang model and its claimed solution by inflationary theory. These episodes illustrate differing reactions to instability in cosmological models, both positive ones and negative ones. To provide some context to these reactions, I also situate them in relation to perspectives on stability from dynamical systems theory and its epistemology. This reveals, for example, an insistence on stability as an extreme position in relation to the spectrum of physical systems which exhibit degrees of stability and fragility, one which has a pragmatic rationale, but not any deeper one.