Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
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TigerNinja
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Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by TigerNinja » October 24th, 2016, 2:52 pm

I was continuing on the book some may have heard me refer to in some of my previous posts, 'Man, Beast and Zombie', when they brought up how everything had a form of philosophy a few hundred years ago. Modern science is but a practised form of empirical Philosophy is it not? To successfully let science question and therefore empirically experiment and therefore prove or negate theory in question, they need to have philosophy to begin this scientific process. Such sciences as biology were called the philosophy of nature as they were exactly that: philosophically questioning the scientific views of nature and developing them. In modern day, philosophy and science are seen as absolutely exclusive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they should be.
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

gimal
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by gimal » October 24th, 2016, 8:09 pm

philosophy ends in absurdity.
as this MA in philosophy shows.
contentless thought case study in the meaninglessness of all views
gamahucherpress.yellowgum.com/books/phi ... hought.pdf

and mathematics and science end in absurdity as this work shows.
All things are possible
Case study in the meaninglessness of all views
gamahucherpress.yellowgum.com/wp-conten ... ssible.pdf

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Carol
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Carol » October 31st, 2016, 3:31 pm

I would not have found this forum if a mod in a science forum understood the value of philosophy and did not control everything to fit into his narrow understanding of what is important. We have worked ourselves into a very serious problem by focusing education on technology for military and industrial purpose. We now have a society that does not know the height of our potential does not stop at accumulating facts. Our focus on education for technology also resulted in worshipping youth and considering the elderly as old-fashioned and outdated, therefore, cutting the whole of society off from the wisdom that is a part of our later years. This is about how the brain changes with age.

In our youth, our brains are designed to pick facts. Until about age 8 our brains absorb information without much discrimination and after age 8 our brains start discriminating and the speed of learning slows down, but what we can learn increases. Around age 25 our brains are fully mature but not fully developed. As we use the neurons in our brains they grow and much later in life those neurons begin communicating with each other in such a way that we become increasing aware of meanings. Facts=science Philosophy=meaning

Of course, everyone knows an older person who is very closed minded and seriously lacking wisdom. When the use of our brains is limited, the neurons we don't use atrophy. Our intelligence can decrease with age if we don't continue to push ourselves to learn new things.

Before 1958 public education in the US favored developing our ability to think independently and understand concepts and prepare us for life long learning. After 1958 public education favor memorization of facts, and avoided exploring meanings or slowing things does with logic and critical thinking. This is thinking of our young as products to produce for industry. The result is many smart people who lack wisdom. Science and techonlogy without wisdom is very dangerous thing.

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Rainman » November 1st, 2016, 5:48 pm

What if a machine with Artificial Intelligence discovers something new in science through simply churning along? Did it need philosophy to do that? If not, is philosophy only connected with human scientists? If AI machines become the next scientists and humans are not needed because they are too slow...is philosophy still attached somehow to science?

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Carol
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Carol » November 6th, 2016, 4:51 pm

Computers can churn out correct information, but correct information does not mean the same thing as ethical decisions, or what is good for humans.

Please keep in mind, the US separated from England for the freedom to decide for ourselves what is right for us, as opposed to being subjects to a higher authority. Philosophically this comes from a strange ancient Athenian idea that it is our nature to be political and to desire personal power to choose things of an economic and political nature.

However, my friend and I completed our ballots today, and we agree all the measures should be "bench marked". That is what businesses do when they are planning action. It means to go back at a set time and evaluate how the past decision is working and if it is a good idea to stay with that decision or change it. The evaluation needs to be public information with the media holding responsibility for the public being informed, not corporate money telling us what is so. Then we can adjust our decisions with information gained through experience. Did those really awful things happen because we voted yes? Did we get what we the benefits we thought we would get?

Democracy is a process and a way of life, and we are doing a poor job of making that process and way of life work.

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Renee
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Renee » November 15th, 2016, 11:20 pm

Carol, you seem to point out moral dilemmas that are involved with science, but are for all intents and purposes outside the realm of scientific research.

I am not trying to downplay the role and import of morals and ethics in human endeavours, including scientific research. I am saying that science is independent from morals. At least the philosophy of science.

As far as I can see, or remember from my studies, science needs philosophy for its consensus of what constitutes it.

1. Scientific research (of any form) assumes that
1.1. the world can be known, inasmuch as it is comprised of laws and instances of the laws acting on reality
1.2. humans can learn these laws.

2. Scientific research assumes that
2.1. our observations of reality are true reflections of the reality
2.2. there is no other influence on reality but reality itself (i.e. supernatural forces are ab ovo denied as acting on reality)

3. Scientific research admits that
3.1. it can prove nothing but only disprove things
3.2. if some scientific claim of a law or rule or theory has not been disproven, but has supporting evidence, then we treat it as scientific truth
3.3. while recognizing that even just one observation that contradicts any of the scientific truths (scientific truths are called theories, laws, etc.), invalidates that truth.

Please note that none of the above assumptions are necessarily true. They are accepted to be true in discussions of science by the consensus of scientists.

Carol, moral deliberations are outside of scientific endeavour. The proof lies in the fact that each and all scientific achievement, fact, or theory, can be used for moral and also for immoral purposes. This holds, no matter how you define morality.
Ignorance is power.

1i3i6--
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by 1i3i6-- » November 22nd, 2016, 5:30 pm

Rainman wrote:What if a machine with Artificial Intelligence discovers something new in science through simply churning along? Did it need philosophy to do that? If not, is philosophy only connected with human scientists? If AI machines become the next scientists and humans are not needed because they are too slow...is philosophy still attached somehow to science?
You seem to mistake the nature of present-day Artificial Intelligence.
Philosophy is baked into the 'search algorithm'.
By churning along, it is applying a set philosophy over and over again to new inputs.
Philosophy has gone nowhere. Just because it is statically coded, in present-day A.I, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

A human being had to code their philosophical understanding of A.I into the machine before it was of use.

Can Science exist without philosophy?
Can an inquiry exists without a thought or intent? No.
Can you be oblivious to the thought, intent, philosophy? Yes.

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Chasw
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Chasw » January 9th, 2017, 9:58 am

I hold that Philosophy precedes, and is logically superior to all scientific inquiry. Francis Bacon was first and foremost a philosopher. In modern times, scientists rely on philosophy for the rules of the road, e.g., What constitutes valid evidence in support of a hypothesis? Another example I read recently is Paul Horwich's' (Analytic philosopher at NYU) 2005 essay titled Wittgensteinian Bayesianism. Likewise, many of the luminaries in 20th Century Philosophy of Science are practicing scientists. The two disciplines are inextricably tied - science relies on philosophy for guidance and philosophy relies on science for new information such as the Higgs field, grist for the mill of Metaphysics. - CW
The central question of human existence is not why we are here, but rather why we behave the way we do - http://onhumanaffairs.blogspot.com/

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Fooloso4 » January 12th, 2017, 6:40 pm

I think that most science today can and does get along quite well without philosophy.

The term philosophy is used so broadly that any thought or opinion or attitude might be called a philosophy. In that case there is no human life without philosophy. But if we restrict the term to what the academic discipline and historical figures who are traditionally identified as philosophers, the question arises as to what their contribution may be to the theory and practice of science tody.

Philosophers may have something of value to contribute to theoretical questions of physics and consciousness, but has any major contributions to these fields been made by those whose training is in philosophy? Anything that would not arise without philosophy?

Most scientists today have little or no training in or knowledge of philosophy. When it comes to issues that arise within or as a result of science that might be considered philosophical and/or ethical they seem to be handled with equal competence by thoughtful and articulate scientists. Philosophy yields no unique insights.

It would be interesting to test that claim by seeing if we could distinguish between the contribution of anonymous scientists and philosophers to discussions on a list of issues. Jargon and technical specificity might be a give away in some cases, but other than such telltale signs could they be distinguished by any kind of unique insight that philosophy brings to the table?

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Greta » January 12th, 2017, 9:36 pm

Agree with Fooloso. Increasingly scientists are extrapolating into the philosophical realm as communication becomes ever more part of a scientist's brief. For example, Robert Kuhn's Closer to Truth interview series (highly recommended) with scientists provides much food for thought for the philosophically inclined. I suspect that science may be more affected by the loss of science fiction than philosophy.

There was a fascinating (to me) exchange between a philosopher and an orthodox materialist neuroscientist in a small cross-disciplinary discussion about consciousness (it didn't work out as the chemistry between participants was not good). At one stage the neuroscientist drew a clear distinction between matter and mind, to which the philosopher exclaimed "You are a dualist!", as though that was a king hit. As we know, in philosophy circles, to be proclaimed a dualist is a suggestion that one subscribes to superstition. The neuroscientist seemingly had not heard the term "dualist" in that context and seemed amused and contemptuous as he replied, "I don't care".

The "king hit" didn't land because others on the panel were scientists, and no one seemed aware of the "stigma" of dualism. Rather, they seemed to dismiss the comment as the pointless gaming of trivial-minded philosophers.

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Ormond
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Ormond » January 13th, 2017, 9:26 am

Carol wrote:Science and technology without wisdom is very dangerous thing.
Bingo, we have a winner, nice job Carol. A way out of the danger might be to focus science on generating wisdom.

There's a science fiction movie called "Strange Days" which provides an example. (not a great movie, but very interesting concept). Imagine there was a little cap you could wear which would record your experience of something. The experience is saved to a storage device. Someone else can put the cap on and play back your experience exactly as you experienced it, having the stored experience exactly as you had it, as if they were inside of your mind.

Wisdom is often related to age because wisdom tends to involve having a greater range of experience to reference when developing theories and conclusions etc. A technology something like the above might greatly accelerate our ability to have a much wider range of experience.

Of course such a technology might also become a mass mind control device, like, you know, television.
If the things we want to hear could take us where we want to go, we'd already be there.

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Togo1 » February 23rd, 2017, 8:29 pm

Fooloso4 wrote:I think that most science today can and does get along quite well without philosophy.

The term philosophy is used so broadly that any thought or opinion or attitude might be called a philosophy. In that case there is no human life without philosophy. But if we restrict the term to what the academic discipline and historical figures who are traditionally identified as philosophers, the question arises as to what their contribution may be to the theory and practice of science tody.

Philosophers may have something of value to contribute to theoretical questions of physics and consciousness, but has any major contributions to these fields been made by those whose training is in philosophy? Anything that would not arise without philosophy?
Well, how about Popper? Or the rise of humanist psychology? The fall of behaviourism? The rise and fall of logical positivsism as a scientific framework? The role of the case study in medical research and how that fits into empericism generally? All philosophical ideas that have had a great deal of inlfuence on what scientists can claim based on various emperical observations.
Fooloso4 wrote:Most scientists today have little or no training in or knowledge of philosophy.
Hm, that trend is changing though, if only because journals are becoming more critical in terms of the claims that can be extended from an observation. Without at least a basic backing in philosohpy, you end up with some very dubious theories based on otherwise perfectly decent lab work.
Fooloso4 wrote: any kind of unique insight that philosophy brings to the table?
Yes, I think so. Science is very much focused on how to gather and interpret emperical evidence, and the expansion and testing of existing theories, while philosophy is more around what can be claimed based on such evidence, since it's concerned with analyising what claims can be made based on particular accepted facts, and what needs to be assumed to get you there. I can see how it might be largely useless in a well established science where all the basic principles are so well accepted as to be immune from change, but in any kind of frontiery or cutting edge science, it remains very useful as a guide and test of theory creation.

-- Updated February 23rd, 2017, 8:31 pm to add the following --
Greta wrote:The "king hit" didn't land because others on the panel were scientists, and no one seemed aware of the "stigma" of dualism. Rather, they seemed to dismiss the comment as the pointless gaming of trivial-minded philosophers.
As opposed to a reference to a well-established set of reasoning that would show the underpinnings of his ideas to rely either on begging the question, or on conflicting assumptions. Yes, it's hard to have a conservation when each side isn't familiar with the material of the other.

Jutfrank
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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Jutfrank » February 24th, 2017, 2:29 pm

TigerNinja wrote: In modern day, philosophy and science are seen as absolutely exclusive,
I really don't think many philosophers would agree with this.

I think we can make a distinction between two ways in which we commonly use the word 'science'.

First, science is a method of investigation, which involves a certain kind of reasoning. This is the thing that scientists do every day when making observations. We can talk about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ science. Much of the time, there's no real thinking going on -- all that's necessary is rigour, precision, and accordance to the method. It is quite possible, then, for working scientists to have little or no interest in philosophy and still be excellent scientists.

Second, science can refer to a body of knowledge. This is what we mean by ‘the facts of science’. One of the tasks of philosophy is to pose questions, which may be possible to answer by using the scientific method. When such questions have been satisfactorily answered, this constitutes scientific knowledge. Thus, philosophy evaporates into science.

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Chasw » February 24th, 2017, 2:53 pm

At my local university, all natural science majors required to pass a 400-level Philosophy of Science class during their junior or senior year. That's where I learned that many of the modern writers in this field were/are scientists by trade rather than philosophy professors. I was surprised to observe how brilliant the science majors were, they took to PofS like ducks to water. The two disciplines are truly interdependent in modern times, Science quickly loses its way if it forgets the rules of the road maintained by philosophical discourse. Likewise, modern philosophical speculation about the nature of the universe is utterly dependent on the advancing sciences, particularly Physics. - CW
The central question of human existence is not why we are here, but rather why we behave the way we do - http://onhumanaffairs.blogspot.com/

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Re: Can Science Exist Without Philosophy?

Post by Fooloso4 » February 24th, 2017, 5:47 pm

Chasw:
At my local university, all natural science majors required to pass a 400-level Philosophy of Science class during their junior or senior year. That's where I learned that many of the modern writers in this field were/are scientists by trade rather than philosophy professors. I was surprised to observe how brilliant the science majors were, they took to PofS like ducks to water. The two disciplines are truly interdependent in modern times, Science quickly loses its way if it forgets the rules of the road maintained by philosophical discourse. Likewise, modern philosophical speculation about the nature of the universe is utterly dependent on the advancing sciences, particularly Physics.
An interesting requirement. I wonder how the concept of falsification is handled. This is a contested topic both in physics and philosophy. My concern is that if one holds strongly to a simplistic notion of falsifiability such things as string theory and a multiverse might be rejected as not science and a student dissuaded from doing research in these areas. Some of course will say that this is a good thing, but others raise concerns about scientific inquiry is being hampered by a description of scientific inquiry that is outdated and in need of revision. Although philosophers of science have something to say about this, they take sides just as the physicists do and I do not see them offering anything more than the suggestion that they sit down and talk about it, which of course they are already doing.

It is with this in mind that I question the idea that philosophy maintains the rules of the road. Although I agree that there is some interdependence, it seems to me that it is those with the proper scientific training and knowledge who advance the art and the philosophers who follow up and offer descriptions of what was done.

As to the demarcation problem, with regard to those interested in doing science, I think it is best addressed by learning to do mainstream science and taking that as one’s touchstone. For the general public the philosophy of science can be helpful in navigating between science and pseudoscience as well as such things evaluating recommendations based on studies.

I am not surprised that some science majors take to the philosophy of science, although I would be surprised if there were not also some who do not. Some are attracted to science because it involves open-ended speculative inquiry but others because it also offers a solid basis of established truths and knowledge on which to work.

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