Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

How does science work? And what's all this about quantum mechanics?

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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend »

My opinion is that Philosophy of Science has not been done for a long while, as the Scientists have had no need to examine their axioms as they have not reached any major contradictions.
On what do you base this opinion A_UK. Philosophy of science has experienced a huge growth spurt in the last fifteen years, particularly in philosophy of physics and philosophy of biology.
philofra
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Post by philofra »

Rortabend,

How might one philosophize about physics? What kind of questions might a philosopher ask of physics?

I ask in all sincerity.
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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend »

Hi philofra,

Physics throws up a huge number of interesting philosophical issues. To name but a few:

- the paradxoical consequences of relativity theory, e.g. the twin paradox
- the metaphysical implications of quantum theory, e.g. is the Copehagen interpreation a reflection of the way the world is or just a reflection of our limited knowledge?
- does physics progress towards the truth or is it just a series of incommensurable paradigms?
- what does our physical theory of the origins of the universe say about the possibility of the existence of God?

I could go on but I won't. I hope this gives you some flavour of what philosophers of physics do.

R
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Post by philofra »

Thank you.

Those are good questions asked of physics.

It is important that professions question their actions. And who best to do that, philosophers.
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Arising_uk
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Post by Arising_uk »

Hi Rorta,
Sorry that was unclear. My opinion was with respect to Science having to turn to Philosophy and philosophers ideas, i.e. to identify and examine its axioms, to address fundamental problems that have arisen by examining the methodology, e.g. during a paradigm shift. I'd call this Philosophy of Science.
I did not know that there had been a growth in recent years but I'm not surprised as Science does throw up interesting questions. I'm unsure if Phil of Sci is anything other than Epistemology with respect to the Sciences but has a category purely because there are Sciences. I can understand that Phil of Science explores the metaphysical and ontological consequences of scientific theories but I'm unsure that these things have any relation to the actual Science.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by Arising_uk »

mickthinks wrote:You may be right, Kim, but I would suggest that is because he hasn't thought enough about the philosophy of science to understand the problem.
I'd guess he doesn't think 'pseudo-science' is a problem. Just ask a scientist if its a science. :)
Pseudo-science (eg. astrology) isn't a third category that can be dismissed by scientists as unnecessary. It is a part of the second category; those non-scientific ideas whose believers claim are science. No scientific theory or laboratory experiment states or proves that astrologers are not engaged in science. If Weinberg thinks his expert opinion as a scientist is enough to settle the issue then he has a circular argument and a big problem.
I think a scientist would say that its not his/hers problem what others believe with respect to non-scientific ideas.

I think the problem of pseudo-science lies with us confusing bits of science, e.g. Astrologers claim they are a 'science', what do they mean? My guess is that its because they have a theory - stars and planets effect human character at birth, and they have modelling tools, i.e. Geometry and Maths, with which they produce charts, they think they are doing what scientists do. There is some truth that the theoretical aspects of Science can be like this but what, in my opinion, is missed is that the scientific method makes events repeatable to others and makes testable predictions, i.e. if you follow such and such a procedure you will experience these events, I also predict that because of this another event will be experienced if we do this, etc.(I understand that in reality its the events that we are trying to explain but experimentation can also be exploration, what happens when I combine this with that?).
I don't think Astrologers can do this. I don't think an astrologer can say to me that if I learn the techniques I will be able to predict human character with exactly the same results as them. The thing I like about Science is that it is the 'common mans' domain.
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by mickthinks »

I think a scientist would say that its not his/hers problem what others believe with respect to non-scientific ideas.
Then in your opinion, scientists have no problem if their children are taught Intelligent Design as a rival theory to Darwin in school? I think most of them have a big problem with that.
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by Arising_uk »

mickthinks wrote:Then in your opinion, scientists have no problem if their children are taught Intelligent Design as a rival theory to Darwin in school? I think most of them have a big problem with that.
I think most would have no problem with ID being taught, just not as Biology or as a Science.
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Rortabend
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Post by Rortabend »

I think most would have no problem with ID being taught, just not as Biology or as a Science.

Good point A_UK. Intelligent design has a long history in science so it certainly belongs in history courses.
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Psychonaut
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Post by Psychonaut »

Or indeed religious education.

The problem is, it probably would get left out, for the simple fact that with so many other religious and historical concepts to convey, it doesn't really stand out as all that important; given time restrictions.
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by mickthinks »

I think most [scientists] would have no problem with ID being taught, just not as Biology or as a Science.
Then these scientists would have a problem when teachers, parents and school boards think that ID should be part of the science curriculum. A problem that only philosophy of science can address.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by Arising_uk »

mickthinks wrote:Then these scientists would have a problem when teachers, parents and school boards think that ID should be part of the science curriculum. A problem that only philosophy of science can address.
Agreed, but we should not be addressing the scientists but the "teachers, parents and school boards" who misunderstand what a science is.
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by mickthinks »

Okay, but is that "we" as in us philosophers or as in Weinberg and us scientists? The trouble is that he thinks philosophers are incompetent, but without us he has no basis on which to tackle the problem.
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Arising_uk
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by Arising_uk »

mickthinks wrote:Okay, but is that "we" as in us philosophers or as in Weinberg and us scientists? The trouble is that he thinks philosophers are incompetent, but without us he has no basis on which to tackle the problem.
That'll be a 'we' in as 'us' philosphers.
Scientists, as parents and members of school boards will, in my opinion, be opposing any such changes in the curriculum for their and others children but not based upon any philosophy of science.
Whether he thinks philosphers are incompetent at what they do is of what concern to philosophers? If he is saying that what philosphers are saying about his subject has no refelection to his experience then I'd say the philosphers concerned need to look at what they are saying.
If he is saying that Epistemology has no relation to his subject then I'd say he is a not very philosophical scientist and they won't be needing him in a 'crisis'.
If he is saying that from his view as a scientist that he can say that most philosophers are incompetent at what they do then I'll wait for his book before I agree. Until then I'd look at the philosophical(mainly metaphysical) conclusions in the books produced by living scientists and say that they are not much better than 2nd year Hons degree level.
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Re: Why do scientists hate philosophy of science?

Post by StrangerDanger »

Generally speaking, scientists are narrowly trained technicians who are largely innocent of the philosophical foundations of their discipline. This fact about the scientist's attitude towards philosophy is an absolute necessity. If scientists worried all day about the problem of demarcation, or the problem of induction, or underdetermination, or whatever, they'd be overfocused on critiquing method rather than using method to make progress and empirical discoveries for philosophers to speculate about.
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