1

Unless I misunderstood this recent thread, the scientifically minded can legitimately only believe in science (not philosophy), and what is "robust and reliable", it's just that they don't prove it's "true", only that their position is consistent with itself.

  1. Can they argue that others should do likewise without assuming articles of faith or intuition?
  2. Given that no-one believes and behaves as if they only believe in science, is tu quoque a sound retort here, or not?

And does anyone in philosophy discuss this phenomenon?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Joseph Weissman Oct 11 '14 at 15:48

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • sorry if i am posting too many questions – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 20:41
  • 1
    I'm not sure that item 2 is a given, conditional on what you mean by "believes and behaves as if they only believe in science"; there are people who (claim to) believe things like "the more areas of life in which we can apply scientific reasoning to, the better off we will be", and (presumably) act on that belief. They may not in some sense fully believe it, or they may not be able to fully put those beliefs into practice, but it is not an unheard of position. – Dave Aug 28 '14 at 20:53
  • that isn't the same as only acting so. i.e. it isn't a consistent rejection of philosophy, as in the question – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 20:55
  • See philosophy.stackexchange.com/a/15550/5759 – alanf Aug 29 '14 at 12:41
  • This seems a little vague, can you specify a little more closely the particular problem you're encountering in your reading/study? – Joseph Weissman Oct 10 '14 at 23:15
0

I think these are all discussions that started from my position that any belief in qualia is fundamentally religious in nature and covered a lot of interesting ground about the foundations of philosophy from there (you can track the threads back if you so desire), so I'd just like to get out of the way that, yes, that was me, yes, I do believe that, and yes, I do like science, though I'm not going to rigorously defend it beyond being a favored intellectual curiousity.


the scientifically minded can legitimately only believe in science (not philosophy), and what is "robust and reliable", it's just that they don't prove it's "true", only that their position is consistent with itself.

I can't speak for the scientifically minded in general, but I don't think it's that difficult of an argument to say that:

  • Any reason to believe in science is necessarily philosophical in nature.

Moreover, as I also don't think it's unreasonable to take science as anything other than a subset of philosophy with fixed rather than free assumptions, I would say that rather than the scientifically minded being in opposition to philosophy, they are rather functioning under a sort of philosophy with fixed permissions, namely that knowledge must be gained through the scientific method.


Can they argue that others should do likewise without assuming articles of faith or intuition?

While I don't think it would be impossible to construct an argument, I really do think it will come down to basic assumptions that can neither be proved or disproved.


Given that no-one believes and behaves as if they only believe in science, is tu quoque a sound retort here, or not?

I don't believe that anyone has every behaved completely consistently with any philosophy so heavily prescribed as science (with the possible exception of some religious figures, which given the nature of this discussion I won't dismiss as reasonable arguments) so I wouldn't find this argument reasonable.

However, if there were somehow a clear way to determine that no effort had been shown to live according to these precepts then I believe there may be more room for argument, but the apparent difficulties may be sufficient to produce reasonable argument against even trying to live in accordance with a fixed philosophy.

  • hey, it's not just about your opinion, but thank you for answering – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 21:53
  • 1
    That actually came across substantially more egotistical than I intended. I'll try to edit that to preserve my identity but not make it all about me. – Calvin Aug 28 '14 at 21:59
  • hahahaha XD edit if you like - think i followed it ! – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 22:00
  • ok i understand you now - you think tu quoque is irrelevant cos these imaginary scientists are behaving no more hypocritically than anyone. – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 22:55
  • ok you have moved the argument / my thinking on the question forward, so i will "accept" the answer, thanks. – user6917 Aug 28 '14 at 23:03
2

The contrast between science and philosophy is spurious. Science and philosophy don't represent two exclusive alternative modes of knowing about the universe. They represent different, mutually informing approaches to different questions. Scientific claims often ride on philosophical ones and vice versa. (See, for instance, Tim Maudlin's The Metaphysics within Physics).

  • is this not just shifting the goal posts though? – user6917 Aug 29 '14 at 11:38
  • 2
    How so? There are philosophers in history who think they have the complete story to tell about the Universe. (Looking at you, Aristotle.) But, notably Aristotle also has a pretty reasonable claim on being the first empirical scientist too. (I tell students that he invented logic to help him with his inquiries into Marine Biology.) Understanding philosophy and, say, physics as distinct disciplines concerned with distinct questions and using distinct methods is an artifact of the enlightenment. Newton would have been a "natural philosopher" by his own way of thinking. – shane Aug 29 '14 at 11:45
  • I'd be curious if you'd explore this a little further? It's an interesting reflection – Joseph Weissman Aug 29 '14 at 22:31
1

Werner Heisenberg says in "If Science is Conscious of Its Limits" from The Physicist's Conception of Nature:

"The philosophic content of a science is only preserved if science is conscious of its limits. Great discoveries of the properties of individual phenomena is not generalized a priori. Only by leaving open the question of the ultimate essence of a body, of matter, of energy, etc., can physics reach an understanding of the individual properties of the phenomena that we designate by these concepts, an understanding which alone may lead us to real philosophical insight."

And also:

"...science is not a philosophy developing a worldview of nature as a whole or about the essence of things. Hertz points out that propositions in physics have neither the the task nor the capacity of revealing the inherent essence of natural phenomena."

0

Perhaps, Merleau-Ponty's "perceptual faith" is a response that is critical of action such as (as in the OP) a hypocritical rejection of anything but science.

I have read humanism and terror, and perhaps the last unfinished book ties together philosophy with marxism [again].