, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 345–347 | Cite as

Naturalness in physics: just a matter of aesthetics?

Sabine Hossenfelder: Lost in Math: How beauty leads Physics astray. New York: Basic Books, 2018, 304pp, $30
  • Samuel SchindlerEmail author
Book Review

Sabine Hossenfelder, a physicist by training, has made herself a name as a prolific blogger, criticizing recent developments in theoretical physics, such as the idea of the multiverse, supersymmetry, and string theory. She has also argued that the grounds for funding successors of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are weak. In her book Lost in Math she channels some of her criticisms. Her focus is on aesthetical motivations for developing successors to the standard model in particle physics, and in particular the curious property of “naturalness”.

Philosophers of science are well aware that non-empirical properties of theories, like simplicity and unification, can play a role in scientists’ choice of theories. The “naturalness” of theories, however, is not yet a property much discussed by philosophers of science as a general criterion of theory choice. Hossenfelder describes naturalness as the requirement that theories should not contain too large or too small numbers (14), or “ugly...



I thank Richard Dawid for valuable comments.

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Science StudiesAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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