14

I began to read Hawking's recent book 'A Grand Design' some time ago and noticed that he savages philosophy. He says '...philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics'. This annoyed me so much I didn't bother to read any further.

Assuming that Hawking is simply referring to the physical universe - what would be a good example to show Hawking & Hawking-wannabees that philosophy is still useful in the pursuit of our understanding of the physical world?

5
  • 4
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – user2953
    Oct 1 '18 at 19:45
  • I can't give you a cite, but Einstein was worried that he was overturning (a portion of) Kant. He worried about it. I have read a couple of things about Einstein and philosophy. He took philosophy seriously. Hawking was clearly wrong, and he did great damage with his statements, he damaged physics and philosophy. pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teaching/HPS_0410/chapters/… Interesting website to browse around in. Nassim Taleb, economist, has also made irresponsible comments. They don't know what they don't know.
    – Gordon
    Oct 2 '18 at 18:01
  • Also Werner Heisenberg had an excellent knowledge of philosophy. I own a book by a Mexican philosopher, Oswaldo Robles. A Scholastic no less! Originally in Spanish, 1943, in English 1946, "The Main Problems of Philosophy". A very educated man. Physics discussed quite intelligently. Including the developments known at that time. To say philosophers knew nothing of science of course was plain wrong.
    – Gordon
    Oct 2 '18 at 18:17
  • It all depends on the particular physicist's philosophy or belief system and hardly any strict rules to determine how much more one has to know. Someone like Einstein who believes classic causality will undoubtedly put more effort to read and think about more classical (historical) metaphysics. Someone adopting an ultimate nondeterministic (modern quantum) belief will be less interested in the classical metaphysics and more on technical model building and checking... Dec 21 '21 at 23:49

10 Answers 10

9

Well, certainly he should know enough not to make foolish statements like the one above.

Since science (and thus physics) is based upon the principle of controlled observation, a good knowledge of epistemology would seem to be de minimis; I suppose that a phenomenological approach seems appropriate to me, but that might be getting too prescriptive.

Certainly it would be a good idea, also, to get a good enough overview of ontology to understand why metaphysics is not reducible to physics.

1
  • 4
    Did you read Hawking's entire comment or just what the OP wrote? Perhaps he wasn't as foolish as you seem to think...
    – CramerTV
    Oct 1 '18 at 16:48
19

Hawking's claim seems reasonable. It was not until the later part of the 19th century that "philosopher" meant philosopher of philosophy. Most so-called contemporary philosophers (the academics) seem to be historians of "philosophy," and they seem content to read, re-read, re-re-read Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, etc.. The irony, of course, is that no one who reads, interprets, and/or writes about, say, one of Shakespeare’s sonnets is a poet (at least not just for reading a sonnet). How does a professor of reading Kant become a philosopher? Is reading ability a qualification for becoming a philosopher? Was Kant a good reader? --It seems likely. He read Newton (that's for sure). But must we read Newton to become philosophers? Well, an introductory textbook in physics will contain more about how contemporary physicists understand the world than Newton's Principia. If a physicist were to write a book on, or perhaps an interpretation of, the Principia, wouldn't that book be classified as a “history” of physics? Yet, the philosophy section of libraries or bookstores is always filled with dissertations and/or books on (often dead) philosophers. We might wish to put the "canon" of Western thought into one section called, "Western Thought," and the commentaries on these books in a section called, "History of Western Thought." It seems unlikely that many contemporary philosophers will fit into the first section. But perhaps there is a place for the non-physicist philosophers. Perhaps contemporary philosophers are doing new, original philosophy. But isn't there this problem: haven't analysis and inquiry become scientific? That is, our world has become/ is becoming verifiably intelligible through, perhaps only through, scientific understanding. As we become more reliant upon scientific verifiability, which if you read Feyerabend isn't the same sort of verifiability that it once was ("How to be a good empiricist: a plea for tolerance in matters epistemological," from Philosophical Papers, III). It is important to note that the Feyerabends and Kuhns of the world did understand mathematical physics. They could only write what they did because they understood the mathematics. Here, it seems that philosophy provides a sort of point of view. However, it is unclear whether philosophy, in and of itself, is the same sort of endeavor as physics. That is, can philosophy stand alone? (I'm inclined to think that it cannot, and that it was not until the second half of the 19th century that a "philosopher" meant someone in the field of philosophy.)

An obvious argument against such a division would be this. “But those philosophers, who you call ‘philosophers,’ are also working off of past philosophers." Their ideas might be said to be derivative of those past philosophers. (After all, Whitehead does stipulate that all philosophy is a series of footnotes to Plato.) But such a statement would be comparable to “all mathematics is a series of footnotes to Euclid.” —That is clearly not the case; there was geometry before Euclid (as there was inquiry before Plato). The problem is that the inquiry has become more and more complex. The rising complexity is due to innovation, and philosophy has been unable to keep up. Hawking says, in A Brief History of Time that "in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for philosophers" (p.175). It might be said that the more complex mathematical physics becomes, the more question can be asked. But this complexity needs to be understood in order to ask the questions that either help illustrate a current problem or illuminate the way to solve a current problem (which doesn’t lead to knowledge, but greater complexity—more questions). (It might be that the more question we ask, the more we know--or that being able to ask meaningful questions is a sort of knowing.)

Hawking sees that philosophy has, for the most part, left behind the world--left behind that difficult language of mathematical physics--for greener pastures where the same, old, and stale grass never seems to stop growing. ("[I]n the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for philosophers," from A Brief History of Time). But of course, Hawking seems to concern himself merely with the philosopher's relation to the scientific world--as though that were the world. A little later on the same page, Hawking critiques Wittgenstein for apparently claiming (I can't find where W. makes this claim) that the "sole remaining task of philosophy is the analysis of language." Hawking then adds, "What a comedown from the great tradition of philosophy from Aristotle to Kant!" Regardless of whether W. said this or not, it is clear that Hawking misunderstood what is probably meant by Wittgenstein here (or at least, the circumstances in which W. might have made such an utterance.) Of course, Wittgenstein concerns himself with philosophical problems ("philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday," PI sec. 38). Thus, he sees mathematics as having fewer epistemological problems than ordinary language (perhaps because the boundaries are drawn with sharper borders). But, he also claims that mathematics is not ideal, it is normative (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics, sec. 61). Therefore, to understand mathematics is to understand a particularly useful normative language. It is likely that Hawking wants to hold mathematics, and mathematical physics, above other language; no, it is likely that Hawking wants to say something more than even that. (It is ironic, as far as I can see, that Hawking wished to criticize the direction that Wittgenstein took by essentially assuming that what Wittgenstein was aiming to criticize can be taken for granted.) But this is a somewhat different issue.

7
  • But it would be very surprising if a poet didn't read any poetry? TS Eliot wrote an essay 'Tradition and the Individual Talent', where he says "the most individual parts of his (the poet) work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously". I suspect the tradition of presenting thought in the Sciences is different than that of Philosophy. One gets books on Statistical Physics or Quantum Physics, but one doesn't get books on say Epistemology or Ontology. Oct 21 '11 at 1:22
  • @MoziburUllah. That is true about the poet--to an extent. For example, if the philosopher's interest is epistemology, does it make more sense to read Kant or Dirac? Who would be more relavent to the contemporary philosopher? The modern poet might get his inspiration from Keats; but to think that Keats has much to say about the modern world is misleading. Think of modern classical music (or Jazz). People mistake the beauty of Bach's St. Matthew Passion for relevance. Kant cannot say anything about the wave-particle duality. But what if the physicist read Kuhn or Feyerabend? Is that acceptable?
    – Jon
    Oct 21 '11 at 16:39
  • 1
    Keats in the poem Lamia talks about how philosophy (the will to reasoned truth) is destructive, or in another one of his phrases 'a butterfly broken on a wheel'. TS Eliot in the 'Wasteland' doesn't give reasons but simply describes the alienation and disillusionment. Surely this is of relevance to the modern world? Oct 22 '11 at 0:39
  • 4
    I'm pretty sure your statement, "Most so-called contemporary philosophers (the academics) seem to be historians of "philosophy," and they seem content to read, re-read, re-re-read Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, etc.." is false. It may seem that way in the classroom because that's what they are teaching, but the vast majority of academic philosophers are doing original research. Just browse the faculty pages of a few departments and you'll see that the number of pure historians is pretty limited.
    – Nathan
    Oct 27 '11 at 6:10
  • 1
    @Michael - It is a disgrace that anyone should think that philosophy is not useful or effective but it would be an accurate reflection of the way professors enthrall their students with rubbish. This discussion is only about what is called 'Western' philosophy and as such your comment seems fair but it is not a comment on philosophy, only a particular tradition of thought. Philosophy must be the only university subject taught be people who do not study most of it, are unable to comprehend it and cannot persuade anyone that it's useful I don't know why students put up with it.
    – user20253
    Oct 1 '18 at 16:13
6

It certainly was ironic if not funny that he started of that book by claiming philosophy is dead and then went on for about a third of the book to illuminate to us his views on philosophy of science.

It has always been the case that those who deny philosophy existence or its importance are those most apt to assume philosophical stances without any thought or inquiry. When you investigate what his philosophical views are you are certainly amazed if not stunned

I did find it tremendously arrogant to claim that because philosophy has somehow not kept up with physics so now it is not a discipline worth pursuing. Maybe the average physicist cannot imagine why everyone in the world does not become one of them. They sure seem to think very highly of themselves. Maybe I should denounce physics for their inability to "keep up" with philosophy and therefore claim it unworthy of pursuit.

Assuming that Hawking is simply referring to the physical universe - what would be a good example to show Hawking & Hawking-wannabees that philosophy is still useful in the pursuit of our understanding of the physical world?

Well philosophy is wide and far reaching subject that it is almost hard to think of any discipline at the academy that is not effected by its inquiry.

The philosophy of religion is such a wide field affecting all critical thought on all various religions. You could spend a lifetime of study on Christian history only get to the first tenth centuries AD. Not to mention the others.

Question of ethics are another wide reaching philosophical inquiry that has thousands of years of history. How many people are not burden by the thought of what they should do and not do. The answer to that question is again important to physicist as well.

Questions of epistemology are again wide and far reaching also with a tremendous amount of history. Also with a wide amount of importance. How do we announce things to be true? What amount of evidence is sufficient for the claim of truth. This has bearing again on physics as well.

I think a better question would be... Is their a discipline at the academy that is not effected by philosophical inquiry. If I would answer that I would say a resounding NO!

1
  • This response sounds too resentful. I don’t agree with Hawking, but he does have a point. There are many ways in which philosophy is falling into irrelevance, and its reputation has never been worse. There are reasons for this people in philosophy should own. Dec 21 '21 at 17:14
3

In some sense, to be a reasonably working physicist, one already needs to know a number of philosophical things, mostly epistemological: what it is to 'know' something, basic logic, basic ethics (the results of ones work), objectivity. Many major and minor problems in physics (again in a lot of science) are heavily philosophical (the nature of space-time, particle-wave duality, the uncertainty principle). It's just that the people who are philosophizing over them are mostly the physicists and not the philosophers.

Hawking may be referring to a more popular conception of academic philosophy that is ivory-tower and irrelevant and outdated (that's the popular conception).

A useful thing a physicist (as well as any scientist) should definitely know are the 20thc developments in the history and philosophy of science (things like demarcation between science and metaphysics).

3

Hawking's claim, as the OP cited it, that '...philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics' may exemplify a hostile attitude toward philosophy including religion that is part of the modern culture of science.

Marc Lange, a philosopher of science, lamented the same situation when he was a physics student. He not only wanted to know the various theories and mathematical techniques to solve problems. He also wanted to know "what the universe is like in its most fundamental respects". (page x):

When questions of the kind I thought important did arise, they were often belittled with a hostility that quite surprised me. I know now (thought didn't know then) that not all physicists would have responded to my questions in this way. But I also know now (thought didn't know then) that my experience was not unique; others who at some point in their education moved from physics to philosophy underwent searing experiences very similar to mine.

The hostility to philosophy is similar to the hostility toward religion as exemplified in the "conflict thesis" claiming that science is in conflict with religion. This is how Wikipedia describes the conflict thesis:

The "conflict thesis" is a historiographical approach in the history of science which maintains that there is an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science and that the relationship between religion and science inevitably leads to hostility; examples to support this thesis have commonly been drawn from the relations between science and religion in Western Europe. The thesis retains support among some scientists and in the public, while most historians of science do not support the thesis, especially in its original strict form.

One can view these expressions of hostility as part of the culture of science that developed since the 19th century. However, the existence of such a culture does not mean it can't change in the future.

The question is

Assuming that Hawking is simply referring to the physical universe - what would be a good example to show Hawking & Hawking-wannabees that philosophy is still useful in the pursuit of our understanding of the physical world?

One way to show that philosophy is still useful is for philosophers interested in science to present more philosophies of science.

Marc Lange's Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics addresses spatiotemporal locality, causation and the question of the reality of fields among other topics. Shimon Malin's Nature Loves to Hide provides a perspective on quantum physics combined with Plotinus and Whitehead. For religion, Alvin Plantinga's Where the Conflict Really Lies attempts to turn the table on the conflict thesis with his evolutionary argument against naturalism.

Producing more works like these should help prepare a ground receptive to a change in the culture of hostility of science toward philosophy, and more generally religion, that Hawking exemplified with his claim that "philosophy is dead".

As far as the title question, How much philosophy should a physicist know?, a physicist should know enough philosophy to take a stand on what is in the three books I referenced above especially if the physicist is responsible for justifying grant funding and needing to address the public who have easier access to these works than to the science texts themselves.


Reference

Lange, M. (2002). Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Malin, S. (2002). Nature loves to hide: Quantum physics and the nature of reality, a Western perspective.

Plantinga, A. (2011). Where the conflict really lies: Science, religion, and naturalism. OUP USA.

Wikipedia, "Conflict thesis" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict_thesis

2

I agree that physicists should learn a bit of philosophy but I think the question aught to be posed much more in the other direction. I believe a large measure of why physicists like Dr. Hawking feel the way they do about philosophers is that most of them know a minimal amount of hard science and it is not infrequent that their claims are contrary to known fact. There are a few exceptions like Dan Dennet, but they are few and far between.

I happen to be a physicist who is interested in philosophy, but when I have questions that lie between the two subjects, my first response is invariably to ask the physicists I know. In fact, I did ask just such a question in the physics stack exchange; it was migrated to this forum and, while I received some scientifically oriented response, I got far less than I had hoped for.

Incidentally, I did read all of Dr. Hawking's last book and you are just as well to have skipped it as his other popular works are much better. I do agree with him that modern philosophy has not kept up with physics and it is a disappointment for people like me who would like to see both areas have strong communities.

0
1

I hardly dare respond to such a lot of tosh.

Hawking is a naive thinker who has not a clue about philosophy and he should know better than to comment. If he believes that at present university philosophy is useless then he is not alone. So do many academics, students, laypeople and university chancellors and departments are closing. So what? This is not reflection on philosophy, merely the failure of a certain method and a certain set of assumptions.

Meanwhile philosophy is alive and well elsewhere. The early quantum physicists were perfectly aware of this but Hawking is not of their intellectual stature and nor, it seems, are many physicists these days. We cannot say that philosophy is useless just because some people make no progress. The proper approach is to ask why we are making no progress and attempt to change the situation. It is no use blaming the discipline itself for our own shortcomings.

It is surely a good time for philosophers to start looking beyond a failed paradigm that is so widely-known to be of no use to man nor beast that even Hawking realises it. Were I responsible for teaching philosophy I'd advise students to stay well away from the philosophy department.

Quite why physicists make so little effort with philosophy is hard to pin down exactly but the principle reason must be the way it is done in our universities. It is an industry, not the honest pursuit of knowledge and answers, and as Hawking notes it shows.

EDIT: On reflection this is a bit outspoken. I'll leave it but apologise for being more inflammatory than necessary.

0

I thought a while about whether or not I want to answer to this question but rereading the answers again and again I come to the conclusion that the discussion so far was not only highly subjective but also emotionally charged. Both these properties of the previous discussion devalue this very discussion.

Therefore I try to give a physicists perspective on this topic. Note however that I am a layman in the field of academic philosophy and I do not want to rate the value of the field in any sense! (Neither positive nor negative)

Actually I will answer a slightly different question. And before I phrase it explicitly, I want to answer some other questions to justify why my change in the phrasing of the original question might be sensible and even needed!

What do physicists do?

A physicist is first and foremost someone who is trained in describing observable phenomena in the language of mathematics. And even though physicist try to (and also tend to) interpret the results they get and relate them to deeper principles, one should never forget the following thing. Most physicist would never say that they know why nature behaves how it does. Furthermore, most physicist wouldn't even say that they know what exactly things like mass, charge or other quantities used to model nature are, without referring to the mathematical model itself. This is caused by the fact that these concepts by itself do not mean anything, it is the context in which they are used which fills them with reason. With that said:

What is the aim of physics then?

The aim (most) physicists are pursuing is to build a mathematical model, with which one can predict the outcome of an experiment, given a finite set of initial information². This main aim is (and a large amount of physicists would probably agree) not mainly driven by the intent to seek knowledge about existence or the universe but rather of pragmatic nature. To make this point even more explicit one could in principle argue that if we had all the data which is measurable, stored in some magical device with infinite storage, this data is of the same value as a model describing it. So one would most of the time say that physicists try to describe how nature behaves. But also this phrasing does not meet all the criteria, since in the mathematical model there is no truth about the physical objects actually baked in and the word how could lead to the idea that the physicist knows something deep about the interaction of the existing thing, which is also not the case. One should be very careful when interpreting the equations in the sense that one wants to actually map the objects in the formula to an existing thing. Because quite often physicist belief in their abstractions a bit too much. And this notion of belief (in my opinion) is where metaphysics comes into play. But the physicist as such, has only little to do with this notion of belief. So now we are equipped to ask my changed question:

How much philosophy does a physicist need to know?

Apart from the absolutely basics of logic and epistemology, there is in fact nothing a physicist needs to know about philosophy to work as a physicist (And as a matter of fact most probably don't). A physicist needs to know how to construct experiments, evaluate data and how to build mathematical models to describe the observations. The image of the physicist being a natural philosopher seeking to answer the existential questions about the universe is rather romantic and not really realistic in a sense. (Although physicists tend to at least try sometimes.)

How much philosophy should a physicist know?

Well, this is actually fully opinion-based and no objective discussion of that question is possible. If the term "physicist" as a described above is accepted as such, there is also no need to answer this question. It is like asking how much does a baker need to know about cars.

How much philosophy should someone know to write about philosophy?

This is another question and one could rightfully criticize the correctness of the cited text. Whatsoever, this has nothing to do with the question in the title. And since the text is sorted in the genre "pop-science" one could be probably forgiving about oversimplifications made by the author, when talking about philosophy and also when talking about physics.


Final Remark: Of course most of the above arguments are build on my personal experience which is of course flawed, because my sample of physicists is smaller than all physicists there are. But I think it reflects the mainstream. At least to a certain extend.

One more thing, describing Hawking as a naive thinker is nothing more than arrogant and useless. And one should keep in mind that language is something abstract, it will never be enough to uniquely encrypt and transport information, so if someone says "philosophy is dead" you should not start to cry and shout, but you should take it as a chance to educate someone and leave this person smarter than before.

10
  • 1
    Well, your description of physicists doesn't describe all physicists. For example, Carlos Rovelli, ond of the cofounders of the modern theory of Loop Quantum Gravity is on record saying that philosophy has been helpful in his work as a physicist. Dec 20 '21 at 21:49
  • Your (absent) description does not either. So to speak about someone we call physicist we should first define the term. Furthermore I also stated your point in the answer itself. And also note that "being helpful" does not describe what was actually helpful about it. Maybe it got him interested/motivated but without you being more explicit about your statement we don't know. Dec 20 '21 at 21:52
  • What do you mean by 'absent'? This makes no sense. Carlos Rovelli is a physicist in any sense of this term. Dec 20 '21 at 21:54
  • So you argue that my description is not enough because it does not hold for all physicists but yours does but you only give one example? The point I am trying to make is what one calls a physicist is defined rather by the "mean" then by the individual. Dec 20 '21 at 21:56
  • 1
    My question asked for a hood example to show why Hawking was wrong. You've answered, more or less, that Hawking was right. So you haven't answered my question. Dec 20 '21 at 22:09
0

"philosophy of science is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds" - Feynman

While physicists can get on with practical work, laboratory work of experimentalists like building gravity-wave observatories, or theoretical predictions that can be matched to cosmological predictions, they don't really need philosophy.

But when the programme of physics gets stuck, and the longer it gets stuck the more so, then the community must scrutinise assumptions, definitions, frameworks, and discontinuities between subdisciplines - in other words, do philosophy.

The contortions over the Quantum Measurement Problem, by physicists never mind philosophers, helped discredit working on foundations of quantum mechanics for many years, being on generally unfalsifiable interpretations that have no prospect for experimental support.

Sean Carroll is a vocal advocate of returning to a very wide-ranging reconsideration of the foundations of physics, and explicitly defends the need for philosophy in thinking about quantum gravity. He talks about having to get job security before working professionally on these areas. He says

"You don't get to say I'm not doing philosophy, or I don't care about philosophy. All these people are doing philosophy in one way or another, you can only do it well, or do it badly. And I think a lot of physicists are secretly doing philosophy, they're just not doing it very well." -in this talk about Quantum Physics and Philosophy

Sabine Hossenfelder critiques beauty as a guide being limiting for physics, a philosophical commentary on an implicitly philosophical stance often held unreflectively which is where ideas can impose hidden blinkers.

Leading theorist Lisa Randall says about the sublime:

"The word precisely captures what makes the universe so wonderful and so frustrating at the same time. A great deal seems beyond our reach and our comprehension, while still appearing to be close enough to tantalize us — to dare us to enter and understand. The challenge for all approaches to knowledge is to make those less accessible aspects of the universe more immediate, more understandable, and ultimately less foreign. People want to learn to read and understand the book of nature and accommodate those lessons into the comprehensible world."

And discusses the different modes of engaging with the world of art and religion. Which puts me in mind of Einstein's letter on his own philosophy, from which a famous quote of his about the importance of wonder and awe is drawn.

Lisa Randall discussed how her writing popular science, like her 'Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe' was frowned on by her colleagues as a distraction, and basically only possible once she had tenure.

Theorists working on the big picture, and especially quantum-gravity which has made very little progress on what can be experimentally tested for decades, need philosophy, need philosophical thinking and methods, and to build the public understanding of science so that everyone can understand better the mysteries we face. Ultimately working in silos is only possible while the work there is making progress, and when it cannot we require bridge-building between disciplines and more widely exploring ideas. It weighs on philosophy to show itself useful, and science to show itself interesting and accessible. Academia has largely worked against that, but it seems that is changing.

-3

None!

The aim of science is to replace philosophy as a means of understanding absolute reality. Hence, you need no knowledge of philosophy if you understand science.

Absolute reality is that with exists objectively whether or not we are aware of it and believe it. Absolute reality exists totally seperate from anyone's capacity to observe, measure, define and/or believe it. It exists independent from any source or origin.

Philosophy is a methodology developed to contemplate the nature of absolute truth and incrementally improve our understanding thereof by first making hypotheses and validating those hypotheses with thought experiments applied to our subjective experience.

The scientific method is a refinement of philosophical methodology replacing thought experiments with empirical data and eliminating logical fallacies, making the validation mechanism far more reliable and therewith significantly reducing error.

The scientific method is thus a methodology that gradually reveals objective reality with increasing detail and accuracy and therewith also allows us see the interconnection between the different elements and attributes of objective reality that in turn helps us manipulating objective reality to our advantage. It allows us to understand how we can find happiness and safety and build the tools to fulfill them.

Questions the scientific method cannot answer with any degree of certainty or accuracy whatsoever are therefor also questions philosophy cannot answer with any degree of certainty or accuracy whatsoever. Abandoning the scientific method to answer questions it cannot answer at this point in time and looking for an answer in philosophy instead is therefore utterly pointless.

The vast majority of things that were mysteries to our ancestors have already conslusively been answered by science and science alone. Wherever mysteries remain, science is indefinitely the most reliable methodology to answer it. The belief that any mystery left unsolved by science can be solved or has been solved by any other means is nothing but wishful thinking and a naive response to fear of the unknown.

So, what about ethics, you may say?! Well, science both teaches us a lot about how our actions influence our happiness and stability. Herein, neuropsychology typically focuses on individual behavior, whereas sociology focuses on the collective components components and biology focuses on genetic components of our behavior.

Combined, neuropsychology, sociology, biology and other sciences give a rather complete picture of human behavior and human consciousness. It allows us to model human nature in a consistent way, which in turn allows us to develop a rational moral foundation based this model.

Adding to that, mathematical studies like game theory can help us determine the impact of our actions and assess that impact with greater clarity.

4
  • Thought experiments, gedankenexperiment, were invented for physics, & still very widely used there, eg Maxwell's Demon en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_experiment "Absolute reality is that with exists objectively whether or not we are aware of it and believe it" That is a philosophical stance, & a bad one. How does it deal with say the implications for locality of entanglement? "Abandoning the scientific method" When should we allow genetic modification of human germline (reproductive) cells? What about defining scientific method? You clearly wear your ignorance proudly. Sad.
    – CriglCragl
    yesterday
  • @CriglCragl : "'Absolute reality is that with exists objectively whether or not we are aware of it and believe it' That is a philosophical stance" — It's merely a definition... upon which the scientific method is grounded. * * * "How does it deal with say the implications for locality of entanglement?" — The same way as it deals with anything else. Absolute reality is not impacted whatsoever by our ability to detect / measure it. (continued) yesterday
  • @CriglCragl : "When should we allow genetic modification of human germline (reproductive) cells?" — That's a questions that should be addressed by social scientists, biologists, geneticists, etc. There's nothing philosophers have to offer in this area that cannot be offered by a multidisciplinary team of scientists. * * * "What about defining scientific method?" — See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method * * * "You clearly wear your ignorance proudly." — You confuse your own unability to comphrehend a position with that position being grounded in ignorance... yesterday
  • You've written a bad answer, your points don't make sense, & you clearly don't understand the philosophical work on these issues, like that defining science, ie the demarcation problem, is philosophy. Your answer has been hidden from view by the community here, as of very poor quality. Please review the site guidance on writing a good answer: philosophy.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer
    – CriglCragl
    10 hours ago

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.