Does philosophy have rules or methods for reasoning or analysis like, say, the "scientific method" in science. If yes are there any differences and what are they?

  • 1
    Science is a phenomenon much more complex that the so-called "scientific method". Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 19:12
  • 1
    But at least some basic features of scince, like experiments and mathematization, are not usually (never ?) used in philosophy. Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 19:14
  • and philosophy as a phenomena is much more complex than any singular method. i.e. not sure how helpful the above comment is, given that not anything goes in science. the most important overlap is imho the scientific / philosophical community, and its rigour
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 19:49
  • Also important to note, the idea that there is a "scientific method" is more myth than reality. (plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method)
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 22:22
  • Does this answer your question? What is the relationship between philosophy and science?
    – user64708
    Commented Feb 26, 2023 at 7:58

7 Answers 7


So let's suppose that there's no "scientific method", it's not something I'm particularly convinced by, but it seems to be the gist of the discussion. One way to look at your question, then, is not in terms of method per se, but result. How do science and philosophy overlap in terms of their contribution to human society or knowledge?

In those terms, I reckon you could say that philosophy is an immature but not redundant science. It grew out of philosophy, as natural philosophy, and then was developed by e.g. Francis Bacon's ideas about a "scientific method".

Empirical science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy.

Wikipedia, sorry

  • @ MATHEMETICIAN then it must have its own Method ,historically. Is it right.Or historically philosophy was act of work of randon thoughts.? Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:44

I don't know if a definitive answer is possible to this question, but I would say the most commonly shared method for philosophy is argumentation.

Within this, the most commonly agreed to foundation is Aristotle's three laws of thought. And then past that sentential logic whether formalized or not is broadly accepted within philosophy. For the purposes of answering, I'm going to call this "logic."

Are there exceptions? i.e., philosophers who don't use this type of logic. I'd say there's three kinds of exceptions:

  1. technical exceptions -- people who are still trying to do logic but reject some minor feature of the canonical forms and explore the possibilities of these alternatives.
  2. "postmodern exceptions" -- people who are attacking the canonicity and codification of reason. But this is still done (in general) against the backdrop of the historical philosophical project(s).
  3. "breakdown exceptions" - this might be a variation on (1) or (2) but Davidson and Rorty spring to mind as thinkers who think that when you get to the end of logic, you find that it does not work.

But even so logical argumentation is the core of both what the canon and the detractors do. (with "logical" taking on different meanings for the detractors).

Outside of this, I'd say there's a great deal of difference in terms of how philosophers do philosophy, varying from highly empirical methods to highly idealistic methods, from atheistic to theological to indifferent, from moralizing to nihilistic...

  • 1
    Can we say that philosophy mainly looks for a model rather than sparse deductions?
    – userDepth
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:08
  • @ userDepth - Very good point Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:16
  • @ virmaior Your point (method for philosophy is argumentation.) Is more right but can mere arguments be called philosophy or Arguments made with keeping a standard model is philosophy ? Pls clarify. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:39

You might consider philosophy as the study of all methods of reasoning. Every major philosopher has his or her own original method, which forms part of the core of what makes that philosophy distinctive.

Science is the development and exploitation of one particular method of reasoning, which originated within philosophy, but proved to be uniquely valuable even to the world outside philosophy.

As virimaior discussed, logic is the foundation of many diverse philosophical methodologies, but it is perhaps best understood as a common (but not universal) tool of a wide variety of philosophers.

  • 1
    reasoning and argumentation is everywhere, both in everyday discussion and all the arts. i'm not sure that philosophical use of them can be said to be especially peculiar, except maybe historically
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 22:34
  • @MATHEMETICIAN I'm not clear what in my answer you are responding to. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 4:19
  • it's a comment on your opening sentence and other answers here. it's not really meant to prove you wrong, it is my two cents / comment. fwiw i don't like your answer, i don't think it adds much clarity to say that philosophy is defined by its diversity
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 9:23
  • 1
    e.g. what sort of reasoning processes are peculiar to philosophy? what forms of reasoning would not exist without philosophy, except historically? is there a more defined way of doing e.g. literature criticism, than there is philosophy? if you're saying that philosophy is defined by hyper reflexivity then fine, but that's not a different method or object as much as increased (as i said) rigour IMHO
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 9:33

Whether or not there is such a thing as a "Philosophical Method" is in itself highly dependent on what definition of "philosophy" one espouses and different people have held widely different definitions throughout history.

For an overview of this, the Wikipedia article is actually decent enough: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_methodology

I want to hasten to add that while a lot of commenters are speaking out against there being a scientific method, scientists do generally agree more on what science is and is supposed to do than philosophers do on philosophy. So as dynamic and alive science as an endeavor may be, the notion that science does not generally share at least a few common features is just as much a fiction as the idea that every scientific discovery is based on a specific method. Philosophy on the other hand can genuinely be considered inhomogeneous in goal, methods, topics and everything else, really.

So to sum up, no there is no accepted Philosophical Method but there are accepted Philosophical methods within certain sub-fields or schools of philosophy.

  • 1
    Agreeing on what science is and generally its goal is not really the same thing as it having a common method. Philosophers almost to a T believe that philosophy is about discovering the nature of reality and its configuration. So in that respect, I think the too are quite similar.
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 2:57
  • 1
    As I said, there is also a lot more agreement within science about methodology than in philosophy. This was not a criticism of philosophy anyways. Science is as it is because that works for Science. Philosophy is as it is because ultimately the purpose of science and philosophy are not the same. While I personally agree with your characterization, I know of plenty philosophers who would never agree to what you just said.
    – MM8
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 7:43
  • @Kurow a good point imo "there is a lot more agreement within science about methodology". the demarcation problem is IMVHO very close to defining a method, if only cos philosophers wouldn't be wanting to tell scientists how to go about their work
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 1:29

I would follow up on the lessons of the history of science and say 'absolutely not'.

  1. Science itself already does not fit into the methodologies that it sets up for itself (q.v. Kuhn).

  2. It impossible for those to be expanded or tuned to allow all reasonable science to fit within them. (q.v. Feyerabend)

  3. Philosophy is a wrapper that includes the whole of science.

Therefore, philosophy cannot possibly fit into a methodology.

  • so you would define philosophy by its extent, and (?) agree with wittgenstein that "4.113 Philosophy sets limits to the much disputed sphere of natural science"? do you have a reference for kuhn ever talking about method not knowledge? just intrigued if he did...
    – user6917
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 23:01
  • This is one half of what I take to be Wittgenstein's meaning. Science is a subset of philosophy. The other half would be that it cannot be all of philosophy. // Kuhn avoids the word 'method', partly to downplay conflict with Popper. But he implicitly points out how no consistent 'scientific method' is followed, and how it is not even well-defined, by documenting the historical differences between modern scientific processes and unexpected similarities between the processes of modern and pre-modern scientists. plato.stanford.edu/entries/thomas-kuhn/#5
    – user9166
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 13:39
  • @ jobermark ,but as a branch of science , philisophy must have some set of rules in order to prevent mixing with other branches ,which employ similar thought processes. And to show its distinction from other branches, with the help of different rules, different methods etc. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:31
  • @SwiftPushkar It is the other way around. Science is a branch of philosophy. And no, you do not need an ideology in order to think.
    – user9166
    Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 21:14

Another way of looking at the overlap would be to ask what makes philosophy good philosophy, or science good science.

I think most should agree that good philosophy is rigorous, and that this is something it shares with science. So if you look at the difference with pre and post Socratic philosophy there is I think a tangible improvement in its soundness (think of the above mentioned laws of thought and their certainty), just as science has increasingly explained away its anomalies.

Obviously that rigour isn't quite the same: in philosophy there is so much disagreement, less is settled, that it becomes much more polemical and less progressive. i.e. the philosophical community is more divided, across the board, and this reflects in how it approaches the idea of proof, which is, if not less stringent, then more contested.

You can compare this with something like literature, or painting. Would you say that the arts become more rigorous, or just more interested in questioning their assumptions (as in e.g. early conceptual art)? The arts are less about the theory underpinning them, than their realisation in a work of art, and this reflects in being, I think, less conclusive.

  • I agree with your point. But my question is not about Good or Bad , itstead it enquires about the fundamental methods ,rules or ways of practicing philisophy. As all individual has their own philosophy. But it cant be termed as mainstream philisophy, as it varies from person to person. But the rules, ways treats it as a branch. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 17:23

Agree with the comments above concerning such a thing as "Scientific reasoning." There is such a thing as the Age of Reason (circa the late 19th Century) where many of us Westerners thought we had conquered ideas such as War, famine, etc through the use of "Reason" (use of evidence to advance an argument or create a greater bounty for all of humanity as two examples.) Philosophy is never to be bound by what I think they would term "such externalities." Logic is even worse sadly.

Of course what is a "reasonable amount of money" is always an interesting point of inquiry....

  • Could you make clearer where you're answering this question and the basis in philosophy for your answer?
    – virmaior
    Commented Jun 20, 2016 at 2:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .