Science Philosophy

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

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RCSaunders
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Science Philosophy

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:50 pm

Will Bouwman's Philosophy Now article, "Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)" is a wonderful illustration of what is wrong with philosophers attempting to identify what science is and how it ought to be done. For example:

"In the middle of the twentieth century the philosophy of science was almost exclusively focussed on defining the scientific method. The assumption was that science is an objective ideal method independent of human foibles, and if we could just describe its characteristics then everyone would have a template for doing proper science."

Just as politicians, who have never produced a product or performed a medical procedure, believe they should determine how business is done and what good medical practices are, philosophers, who have never made a single scientific discover or produced a technological improvement are certain they know how those things should be done. While scientists are actually accomplishing scientific discoveries and engineers are using those scientific principles to produce technological wonders (which happen to be the proof of the science--see list) philosophers are twiddling their mental thumbs inventing some kind of abstruse template of how science is to be done.

Here's a list of just a few of science and technology's twentieth century accomplishments without a philosopher's template:

1900 Quantum theory proposed / Planck
1901 Discovery of human blood groups / Landsteiner
1905 Wave-particle duality of light / Einstein
1905 Special theory of relativity / Einstein
1906 Existence of vitamins / Hopkins
1911 Discovery of the atomic nucleus / Rutherford
1911 Superconductivity discovered / Onnes
1912 Discovery of cosmic rays / Hess
1915 General theory of relativity / Einstein
1921 Isolation of insulin / Banting & Best
1923 Nature of galaxies discovered / Hubble
1928 Discovery of penicillin / Fleming
1930s Theory of chemical bonds developed / Pauling
1932 Discovery of the neutron / Chadwick
1932 Discovery of the positron, first antimatter particle / Anderson
1939 Discovery of nuclear fission / Meitner & Frisch
1944 Evidence in bacteria that DNA / Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty
1946 Initial elucidation of the reactions in photosynthesis / Calvin
1947 Invention of the transistor / Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain
1956 Discovery of the neutrino / Cowan & Reines

If philosophers truly want to know how science ought to be done, perhaps they should examine how those who are actually successfully doing science do it. The one thing they would discover is that there is not one basic template, one plan, one, "paradigm," for performing scientific research. The "right method" is determined by the physical phenomena, entities, events, qualities, or relationships being studied.

Philosopher's Anti-science

After a brief description of logical positivists versus Karl Popper, Bouwman writes:

"One major problem—which in fairness the logical positivists were well aware of—is that no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim. The classic example is that a million white swans do not prove that every swan is white. Popper's innovation was to point out that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false. So the evidence could show you either what was only likely to be true, or what was definitely false. Therefore, as an endeavour seeking certainty, science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong. This is Popper's principle of falsification."

Whenever I read something like, "no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim," I have to wonder if the writer knows anything at all about science. Does he believe the circulation of the blood is still in doubt, that anesthesia might not work, that wireless communication is not certainly possible, that geostationary communication satellites are only a hypothesis, or that science is still waiting for more evidence that lased light is possible?

I'm not sure what prompts philosophers to embrace extreme skepticism about science, unless it is their experience with their own discipline, about which I am extremely skeptical myself. I do know all the arguments for such doubt are spurious.

Popper's absurd argument, "... that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false," is wrong ontologically and epistemologically. Ontologically there are only individual entities. There is no ontological "swanness." There are no ontological essences.

"Swan," is only a word which represents a concept. A concept is an identification of an existent (if it is a particular concept) or a class or category of existents (if it is a universal concept). What existents a concept identifies is specified by the concept's definition. The definition of the concept swan might be, "large white water birds with graceful necks."

If that is the definition, the proposition, 'all swans are white,' is true. If another bird is discovered with all the same attributes as swans, except for color, it is not a black swan, because swans by definition are white. The proposition, 'all swans are white,' is still true.

If the black birds are similar to swans in all other ways, one can either change the definition of swans to include black ones, or create an new concept for the black birds.

There is no epistemological or ontological principle that dictates how words must be defined. Epistemologically, the definition that best identifies existents and their relationships will be the most useful, but there is no authority determining that.

There is another wrong assumption implied by Popper's mistake which is that science proceeds by means of "induction." It does not. Nothing is established on the basis of how many similar observations are made. A frequent observation might be the basis for further research, but scientific principles are established by the identification of the nature of existents, their attributes (qualities), behavior, and relationships. It would required the observation of only one swan to form the concept that identifies swans, which would be defined in terms of the attributes of that single swan. The concept would be valid if it were the only swan ever observed, or if it were only one of an indefinite number of additional observed swans. They would all be swans because they would have the same attributes, and therefore the same definition.

There is one more even worse issue, "falsification." There is hardly any idea that could be more ignorant or destructive of science than the one that says, "science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong." If that were true, scientists should be busy proving blood does not circulate, that anesthesia does not work, that wireless communication is impossible, that geostationary satellites have all fallen down and there is no such thing as lasers. The absurdity is obvious.

There is one case where the idea of falsification is useful and that pertains to hypotheses. No hypothesis is a legitimate hypothesis if there is no way to prove it false, if it is false. If there is no way to prove a hypothesis false, if it is, just anything can be put forth as a hypothesis, from miracles to little green men.

What most people do not realize is that falsification is actually a way of proving a hypothesis is true. Since there must be a way to test a hypothesis to determine if it is false, if it is, when the test is performed, if it fails to prove the hypothesis is false, it proves the hypothesis is true, because if it were false, the test would succeed in proving it. Most scientist will understand that. Apparently most philosophers do not.

Age
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Age » Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:31 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:50 pm
Will Bouwman's Philosophy Now article, "Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)" is a wonderful illustration of what is wrong with philosophers attempting to identify what science is and how it ought to be done. For example:

"In the middle of the twentieth century the philosophy of science was almost exclusively focussed on defining the scientific method. The assumption was that science is an objective ideal method independent of human foibles, and if we could just describe its characteristics then everyone would have a template for doing proper science."

Just as politicians, who have never produced a product or performed a medical procedure, believe they should determine how business is done and what good medical practices are, philosophers, who have never made a single scientific discover or produced a technological improvement are certain they know how those things should be done. While scientists are actually accomplishing scientific discoveries and engineers are using those scientific principles to produce technological wonders (which happen to be the proof of the science--see list) philosophers are twiddling their mental thumbs inventing some kind of abstruse template of how science is to be done.

Here's a list of just a few of science and technology's twentieth century accomplishments without a philosopher's template:

1900 Quantum theory proposed / Planck
1901 Discovery of human blood groups / Landsteiner
1905 Wave-particle duality of light / Einstein
1905 Special theory of relativity / Einstein
1906 Existence of vitamins / Hopkins
1911 Discovery of the atomic nucleus / Rutherford
1911 Superconductivity discovered / Onnes
1912 Discovery of cosmic rays / Hess
1915 General theory of relativity / Einstein
1921 Isolation of insulin / Banting & Best
1923 Nature of galaxies discovered / Hubble
1928 Discovery of penicillin / Fleming
1930s Theory of chemical bonds developed / Pauling
1932 Discovery of the neutron / Chadwick
1932 Discovery of the positron, first antimatter particle / Anderson
1939 Discovery of nuclear fission / Meitner & Frisch
1944 Evidence in bacteria that DNA / Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty
1946 Initial elucidation of the reactions in photosynthesis / Calvin
1947 Invention of the transistor / Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain
1956 Discovery of the neutrino / Cowan & Reines

If philosophers truly want to know how science ought to be done, perhaps they should examine how those who are actually successfully doing science do it. The one thing they would discover is that there is not one basic template, one plan, one, "paradigm," for performing scientific research. The "right method" is determined by the physical phenomena, entities, events, qualities, or relationships being studied.
Some might suggest that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science.

Is that a possibility, or not even possible?

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:50 pm
Philosopher's Anti-science

After a brief description of logical positivists versus Karl Popper, Bouwman writes:

"One major problem—which in fairness the logical positivists were well aware of—is that no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim. The classic example is that a million white swans do not prove that every swan is white. Popper's innovation was to point out that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false. So the evidence could show you either what was only likely to be true, or what was definitely false. Therefore, as an endeavour seeking certainty, science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong. This is Popper's principle of falsification."

Whenever I read something like, "no amount of empirical evidence (or logic) can prove a scientific claim," I have to wonder if the writer knows anything at all about science. Does he believe the circulation of the blood is still in doubt, that anesthesia might not work, that wireless communication is not certainly possible, that geostationary communication satellites are only a hypothesis, or that science is still waiting for more evidence that lased light is possible?

I'm not sure what prompts philosophers to embrace extreme skepticism about science, unless it is their experience with their own discipline, about which I am extremely skeptical myself. I do know all the arguments for such doubt are spurious.

Popper's absurd argument, "... that it only takes one black swan to prove that the proposition 'all swans are white' is false," is wrong ontologically and epistemologically. Ontologically there are only individual entities. There is no ontological "swanness." There are no ontological essences.

"Swan," is only a word which represents a concept. A concept is an identification of an existent (if it is a particular concept) or a class or category of existents (if it is a universal concept). What existents a concept identifies is specified by the concept's definition. The definition of the concept swan might be, "large white water birds with graceful necks."

If that is the definition, the proposition, 'all swans are white,' is true. If another bird is discovered with all the same attributes as swans, except for color, it is not a black swan, because swans by definition are white. The proposition, 'all swans are white,' is still true.

If the black birds are similar to swans in all other ways, one can either change the definition of swans to include black ones, or create an new concept for the black birds.

There is no epistemological or ontological principle that dictates how words must be defined. Epistemologically, the definition that best identifies existents and their relationships will be the most useful, but there is no authority determining that.

There is another wrong assumption implied by Popper's mistake which is that science proceeds by means of "induction." It does not. Nothing is established on the basis of how many similar observations are made. A frequent observation might be the basis for further research, but scientific principles are established by the identification of the nature of existents, their attributes (qualities), behavior, and relationships. It would required the observation of only one swan to form the concept that identifies swans, which would be defined in terms of the attributes of that single swan. The concept would be valid if it were the only swan ever observed, or if it were only one of an indefinite number of additional observed swans. They would all be swans because they would have the same attributes, and therefore the same definition.

There is one more even worse issue, "falsification." There is hardly any idea that could be more ignorant or destructive of science than the one that says, "science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong." If that were true, scientists should be busy proving blood does not circulate, that anesthesia does not work, that wireless communication is impossible, that geostationary satellites have all fallen down and there is no such thing as lasers. The absurdity is obvious.

There is one case where the idea of falsification is useful and that pertains to hypotheses. No hypothesis is a legitimate hypothesis if there is no way to prove it false, if it is false. If there is no way to prove a hypothesis false, if it is, just anything can be put forth as a hypothesis, from miracles to little green men.

What most people do not realize is that falsification is actually a way of proving a hypothesis is true. Since there must be a way to test a hypothesis to determine if it is false, if it is, when the test is performed, if it fails to prove the hypothesis is false, it proves the hypothesis is true, because if it were false, the test would succeed in proving it. Most scientist will understand that. Apparently most philosophers do not.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by RCSaunders » Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm

Age wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:31 pm
Some might suggest that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science.

Is that a possibility, or not even possible?
It is not only possible it is certain. Everyone is a, "philosopher," in the sense that every one has a view of reality, life, meaning, and purpose, and some set of values by which they guide their life, though it is not explicit for most and most people could not tell you what their philosophy is.

I would not say they were philosophers who did science, I would say most of them were scientists who had a philosophy--some, like Einstein, more than others.

Age
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Age » Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
Age wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:31 pm
Some might suggest that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science.

Is that a possibility, or not even possible?
It is not only possible it is certain.
So, to you, is it certain 'that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science'?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
Everyone is a, "philosopher," in the sense that every one has a view of reality, life, meaning, and purpose, and some set of values by which they guide their life, though it is not explicit for most and most people could not tell you what their philosophy is.
But not everyone is like this?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would not say they were philosophers who did science,
This appears very contradictory to what you said earlier about what is certain, thus my clarifying question regarding if it is, to you, really a certainty.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would say most of them were scientists who had a philosophy--some, like Einstein, more than others.
Now what exactly is a 'philosophy-some'?

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RCSaunders
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm

Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
Age wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 3:31 pm
Some might suggest that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science.

Is that a possibility, or not even possible?
It is not only possible it is certain.
So, to you, is it certain 'that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science'?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
Everyone is a, "philosopher," in the sense that every one has a view of reality, life, meaning, and purpose, and some set of values by which they guide their life, though it is not explicit for most and most people could not tell you what their philosophy is.
But not everyone is like this?
Except for the extremely retarded, everyone has some basis for making their choices. It might be their religious beliefs, or some mystic nonsense, or today's most popular view, or what they learned from TV, or their peers, or teachers, etc. but whatever views they hold that are the basis for their values and choices is their philosophy. Everyone has a philosophy whether they call it that or not or even know what philosophy is.

I don't mean this as a formal definition of philosophy or description of what philosophy ought to be.
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would not say they were philosophers who did science,
This appears very contradictory to what you said earlier about what is certain, thus my clarifying question regarding if it is, to you, really a certainty.
I only meant and clearly stated it was certain everyone had a philosophy as just explained. I was only referring to where I'd put the emphasis, that is, on the science rather then the philosophy. It is a statement of opinion, not an argument.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would say most of them were scientists who had a philosophy--some, like Einstein, more than others.
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
Now what exactly is a 'philosophy-some'?
A double hyphen (--) is the way an em dash is made when there is no typographical em dash available, such as on a typewriter or computer keyboard. It is not a dash, it is not, "philosophy-some." An em dash is similar to a colon or parenthesis in function, e.g. "... scientists who had a philosophy (some, like Einstein, more than others)."

Thanks for the questions, Age. I hope I'm answering them for you.

Age
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Age » Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:02 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm

It is not only possible it is certain.
So, to you, is it certain 'that all these human beings were 'philosophers' anyway, who just did science'?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
Everyone is a, "philosopher," in the sense that every one has a view of reality, life, meaning, and purpose, and some set of values by which they guide their life, though it is not explicit for most and most people could not tell you what their philosophy is.
But not everyone is like this?
Except for the extremely retarded, everyone has some basis for making their choices. It might be their religious beliefs, or some mystic nonsense, or today's most popular view, or what they learned from TV, or their peers, or teachers, etc. but whatever views they hold that are the basis for their values and choices is their philosophy. Everyone has a philosophy whether they call it that or not or even know what philosophy is.
The word 'everyone' usually refers to every one. Does the very young or the new born also have a "philosophy"?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
I don't mean this as a formal definition of philosophy or description of what philosophy ought to be.
That is good.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would not say they were philosophers who did science,
This appears very contradictory to what you said earlier about what is certain, thus my clarifying question regarding if it is, to you, really a certainty.
I only meant and clearly stated it was certain everyone had a philosophy as just explained.
Okay. As you clarified you meant 'everyone' I posed another clarifying question as just asked.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
I was only referring to where I'd put the emphasis, that is, on the science rather then the philosophy. It is a statement of opinion, not an argument.
Okay, but that was not really was what I was wondering and questioning
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 6:18 pm
I would say most of them were scientists who had a philosophy--some, like Einstein, more than others.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:27 am
Now what exactly is a 'philosophy-some'?
A double hyphen (--) is the way an em dash is made when there is no typographical em dash available, such as on a typewriter or computer keyboard. It is not a dash, it is not, "philosophy-some." An em dash is similar to a colon or parenthesis in function, e.g. "... scientists who had a philosophy (some, like Einstein, more than others)."
This response in no way answers the actual question I asked. But this might be because I did not correctly copy what you wrote.

So, what did you actually mean you wrote 'philosophy--some'?
RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 2:22 pm
Thanks for the questions, Age. I hope I'm answering them for you.
You are giving answers, to some of the quetions, but most of the answers you are giving are not answering the actual questions I am asking.

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RCSaunders
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by RCSaunders » Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:21 pm

Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:02 pm
You are giving answers, to some of the quetions, but most of the answers you are giving are not answering the actual questions I am asking.

Then I'm very sorry. I've done the best I can.

I do suspect some of your questions are a bit disingenuous.

Dubious
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Dubious » Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:47 pm

RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
Kuhn should be infamous
I don’t think he’s infamous; I just don’t know what makes him so famous. That was the point of my post, that maybe I missed something. What is its effect on science as compared to its obvious effect on academic philosophy? But there was no real response to that because, bluntly stated, there isn’t any.

Science will go its own way anchored to new methodologies based on the ever increasing power of the Turing Machine and the advanced technologies of data collection. Such massive data-sets can no-longer be mastered by human theoreticians who hope to create and stitch theories together. The testing and probability status of any theory is now mostly accomplished by super computers in every conceivable manner prior to any actual observation of it assuming what they test can ever be observed.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
Here's a list of just a few of science and technology's twentieth century accomplishments without a philosopher's template:

1900 Quantum theory proposed / Planck
1901 Discovery of human blood groups / Landsteiner
1905 Wave-particle duality of light / Einstein
1905 Special theory of relativity / Einstein
1906 Existence of vitamins / Hopkins
1911 Discovery of the atomic nucleus / Rutherford
1911 Superconductivity discovered / Onnes
1912 Discovery of cosmic rays / Hess
1915 General theory of relativity / Einstein
1921 Isolation of insulin / Banting & Best
1923 Nature of galaxies discovered / Hubble
1928 Discovery of penicillin / Fleming
1930s Theory of chemical bonds developed / Pauling
1932 Discovery of the neutron / Chadwick
1932 Discovery of the positron, first antimatter particle / Anderson
1939 Discovery of nuclear fission / Meitner & Frisch
1944 Evidence in bacteria that DNA / Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty
1946 Initial elucidation of the reactions in photosynthesis / Calvin
1947 Invention of the transistor / Shockley, Bardeen, and Brattain
1956 Discovery of the neutrino / Cowan & Reines

If philosophers truly want to know how science ought to be done, perhaps they should examine how those who are actually successfully doing science do it. The one thing they would discover is that there is not one basic template, one plan, one, "paradigm," for performing scientific research. The "right method" is determined by the physical phenomena, entities, events, qualities, or relationships being studied.
Precisely my point. Did these accomplishments and many more require any philosophy of science to attain? Obviously not! I’m not trying to denigrate Kuhn, just trying to understand his claim to fame because there isn’t much that’s original in his methodology. It attempts a formulization of a historical process as it relates to science. Spengler and Toynbee have done the same within the much grander context of human civilizations. As I see it, what Kuhn has done is make this process specific to science. What he regards as paradigm - its normal day to day operations prior to any ‘shifts’ happening - Spengler would regard as a civilization, something more or less fixed but incipient to transformations. There are differences of course, based on subject one being universal and the other specific; nevertheless, both submit to being a paradigm on paradigms.

I looked through the indexes of my science books, around a dozen, looking for entries on Kuhn and I only found one in parenthesis contained in a single sentence. It seems ironic that Kant was mentioned more often.
RCSaunders wrote:
Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:49 pm
There is one more even worse issue, "falsification." There is hardly any idea that could be more ignorant or destructive of science than the one that says, "science should commit itself to trying to prove its own theories wrong." If that were true, scientists should be busy proving blood does not circulate, that anesthesia does not work, that wireless communication is impossible, that geostationary satellites have all fallen down and there is no such thing as lasers. The absurdity is obvious.
I wrote Popper off long ago based on his falsification premise. Anyone who can come up with anything so ludicrous I don’t have time for.

Does he even understand what a ‘theory is, how it’s created and the fact that it must have it’s own self-correcting mechanisms to become viable and acceptable as Theory? It’s by means of advancing it a theory either self-corrects or implodes. A hypothesis takes nowhere near as long to generate. Within the theory paradigm, due diligence is already contained so why start over trying to disprove it when the most probable way of doing so is to continue advancing it. Furthermore, by this method, there are certainly going to be left-over pieces essential to a new or revised theory...meaning a failed theory seldom fails completely.

The main difference between science and the philosophies of science (or any philosophy) is that the former is self-correcting while any falsities of the latter become academic studies within a long list of falsehoods.

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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by RCSaunders » Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:08 am

Dubious wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:47 pm
The main difference between science and the philosophies of science (or any philosophy) is that the former is self-correcting while any falsities of the latter become academic studies within a long list of falsehoods.
Yes. I think it is ironic that philosophers, whose own accomplishment I regard as mostly failures, should be critical of scientists, whose accomplishments are mostly successes.

Your description of academic philosophy is right on.

Age
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Age » Mon Jul 22, 2019 8:54 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:21 pm
Age wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 3:02 pm
You are giving answers, to some of the quetions, but most of the answers you are giving are not answering the actual questions I am asking.

Then I'm very sorry. I've done the best I can.

I do suspect some of your questions are a bit disingenuous.
I assure you my questions are sincere.

Although I might already know the answer, I am certainly not pretending to know less nor pretending to know any thing for that matter, I just ask questions to gain true and full clarity. For example, I MIGHT already know the answer that will be given by some one else, but if I am to be honest with myself, not until I hear the answer from them, then really all I am doing is assuming, and I do not like to assume any thing as assumptions can so very easily be wrong, so I really do prefer to be informed, and make sure I am clear on the answer.

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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by uwot » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 am

RCSaunders wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 1:08 am
Dubious wrote:
Sun Jul 21, 2019 10:47 pm
The main difference between science and the philosophies of science (or any philosophy) is that the former is self-correcting while any falsities of the latter become academic studies within a long list of falsehoods.
Yes. I think it is ironic that philosophers, whose own accomplishment I regard as mostly failures, should be critical of scientists, whose accomplishments are mostly successes.
The new article is out in a few days and you can read it then. In it I point out that Popper was inspired by the 'bold conjecture' made by Einstein that was proven by Eddington in 1919. At the time, Popper was a student in Vienna, the hotbed of psychoanalysis, which was making claims to be a science. Popper was contemptuous of the way that there was always a reason to explain away any result that didn't fit with the fundamental claims - it was unfalsifiable. Thanks in part to Popper, 'proper scientists' have the theory to dismiss Freud, Jung et al as quacks.
As for scientists being mostly successes, that is true when they stick to instrumentalism, but frankly, when it comes to positing philosophical models, their record compares with actual philosophers. They also make all sorts of claims which turn out to be wrong. Sometimes this is politically motivated; Lysenkoism being a notorious case, cigarettes don't cause cancer, burning fossil fuels doesn't cause global warming and so on. The point Kuhn made was that science is not some abstract entity that scientists obediently follow. It's done by people who have their own theories and agendas. Which is demonstrably true.

Skepdick
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Skepdick » Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:53 am

uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 am
As for scientists being mostly successes, that is true when they stick to instrumentalism
uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 am
It's done by people who have their own theories and agendas.
You are saying the same thing twice...

Instrumentalism/pragmatism/goal-driven behaviour/Telos is the norm for most human activities. Philosophy (absent of intent) is the exception.

If (as you claim) Philosophy is about telling stories and the accuracy of these stories cannot be empirically tested/verified, then is philosophy any different to history?

uwot
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by uwot » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:07 pm

Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:53 am
uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 am
As for scientists being mostly successes, that is true when they stick to instrumentalism
uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:32 am
It's done by people who have their own theories and agendas.
You are saying the same thing twice...
Well, some things bear repeating.
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:53 am
Instrumentalism/pragmatism/goal-driven behaviour is the norm for most human activities. Telos is the norm. Philosophy (absent of intent) is the exception.
More or less Feyerabend's point which concludes the article.
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 11:53 am
If (as you claim) Philosophy is about telling stories and the accuracy of these stories cannot be empirically tested/verified, then is philosophy any different to history?
Philosophical models are essentially stories that account for the observed behaviour - Einstein's stretchy spacetime being an example, the Higgs field another. They're really just avenues to explore. Once you've done a bit of that, you get on with designing experiments to test your conclusions.

Skepdick
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by Skepdick » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:32 pm

uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:07 pm
Philosophical models are essentially stories that account for the observed behaviour - Einstein's stretchy spacetime being an example, the Higgs field another. They're really just avenues to explore. Once you've done a bit of that, you get on with designing experiments to test your conclusions.
Well, not quite. The secret to good instrumentalism is linguistic determinism - in t he sense that a good model is not open to mis-interpretation.

Einstein's "stretchy spacetime" is open to speculation and mis-interpretation when we speak about it in English, but in its formal representation the field equations quite literally describe the geometry of space time. Can you see it with your own eyes? No, but you can see it with your mind's eye. or with the help of visual animations when the field equations are interpreted according to a deterministic set of rules..

In effect English is a metalanguage used to talk about the formal, object language.
So the "stretchy spacetime" narrative is just metaphysical speculation.

uwot
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Re: Science Philosophy

Post by uwot » Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:49 pm

Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:32 pm
uwot wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:07 pm
Philosophical models are essentially stories that account for the observed behaviour - Einstein's stretchy spacetime being an example, the Higgs field another. They're really just avenues to explore. Once you've done a bit of that, you get on with designing experiments to test your conclusions.
Well, not quite. The secret to good instrumentalism is linguistic determinism - in t he sense that a good model is not open to mis-interpretation.
That's down to the interpreter.
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:32 pm
Einstein's "stretchy spacetime" is open to speculation and mis-interpretation when we speak about it in English, but in its formal representation the field equations quite literally describe the geometry of space time.
That's assuming that the geometry of spacetime is actually responsible for gravity. We don't know whether that story is factual.
Skepdick wrote:
Mon Jul 22, 2019 12:32 pm
In effect English is a metalanguage used to talk about the formal, object language.
So the "stretchy spacetime" narrative is just metaphysical speculation.
Ah, I see you have changed your punchline. Splendid, now we agree.

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