Can we say that some scientific propositions’ truth values are conditional to some philosophical assumptions? At least as i can see, to say that some scientific hyphotesis is true we must first assumpt that “the reality is independent from human mind”, which is a philosophical proposition or assumption. If scientific hyphothesis p’s truth value is conditional to truth value of q philosophical assumption, we could say, the possibility of p’s being true can’t be bigger than q’s possibility of being true. Because, in order to p to become true, first the proposition q must be true. What do you think about this?

  • We can agree that "if there is no extwernal world" is true, than the law of e.g. Newtonian mechanics are of little avail... But with them we (humans) made calculations that eneabled us to land on the Moon, and we landed on it. If there is no external world, there is no Moon on which to land; but we landed on the Moon. Thus, by contraposition... Oct 25, 2017 at 14:44
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    @MauroALLEGRANZA. We understand Newtonian mechanics phenomenologically, and we landed on the moon phenomenologically, so neither of those things tell us anything about the external world as noumena.
    – user3017
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:46
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA but still we can say the possibility of q's being true is bigger than possibility of p's being true. Am i wrong? Oct 25, 2017 at 18:13
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    @PédeLeão. It seems, by saying scientific propositions are phenomenological ones, we could easily solve this problem. Though, I am still not sure about it. Oct 25, 2017 at 18:14
  • @UğurErdemKüçük. I don't know what you mean exactly. We're pretty much stuck doing science phenomenologically, so it can never be mind independent. And there are other assumptions involved as well such as induction and causation, so I think you're right. Our certainty with respect to empirical fact cannot exceed our certainty with respect to the assumptions those facts depend on.
    – user3017
    Oct 25, 2017 at 18:44

3 Answers 3


Yes, pretty much every scientific proposition is dependent upon some philosophical assumptions. We have to assume that we can reason inductively, and that the laws of physics don’t change over time, and that there are laws of physics at all....

Interpreting the physical reality implied by mathematical properties of black holes requires metaphysical assumptions about the speed of light and the properties of spacetime.

Sometimes this is even explicitly evoked. Different interpretations of quantum mechanics require different philosophical assumptions. Different formulations of some probability statements depend on your philosophical conception of probability, determinism, and free will.

Mathematicians assume that their logical and axiomatic systems are not only consistent, but actually true in the world

Scientists have philosophical assumptions all the time. In fact, part of the role of a scientific paradigm is to set forth a common framework in which to do science, including philosophical assumptions.

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    I upvoted this good answer but would want to strongly disagree with the idea that it is the task of scientists is to make metaphysical assumptions. Such assumptions are unnecessary. Even materialism is not necessary to science. A lot of damage is done by these unnecessary assumptions since they tend to become dogmas. If a scientific theory depends on a metaphysical assumption then it is a philosophical theory. A scientific theory needs no metaphysical assumptions but only it's interpretation.
    – user20253
    Oct 26, 2017 at 9:12
  • @PeterJ How can you do science without assumptions like “experiments from last week are still valid for reasoning” or “the world isn’t full of grue properties” or “classical logic allows one to deduce truths about the world”? Oct 26, 2017 at 12:31
  • @StellaBiderman You are free to question all of those assumptions, and spend your entire life verifying them by the scientific method. Science will not assert that they are always true, merely that they were consistently satisfied every time you checked. Physicists aren't interested in doing this because we think it's a waste of time and we're pretty sure it's true, but if you want to test it over and over again until you can no longer do so feel free.
    – Alec Rhea
    Oct 26, 2017 at 22:48
  • @Stella Biderman - You can't do without some provisional working assumptions. Some assumptions are necessary. I was referring to metaphysical conjectures such as Realism, anti-Realism, Materialism, Idealism, Atheism, Theism and other ideas that are beyond the remit of the natural sciences.
    – user20253
    Oct 27, 2017 at 9:51

I would lime to point out that a philosophy conditional is often not the common or frequent approach. Science can often use a different context from philosophy. That is two guys speaking at the water cooler will not likely match sufficent cause context with their conditionals. No assumptions are even required to a conditional.
Where do you get the idea that assumptions are required? Conditionals have multiple context with the same layout. For instance if i pass this course, i can graduate is a conditional that even if the antecedant were true the consequent can still be false. The relationship between the terms is important. Science seems to use conditionals in a cause then result fashion. Not everyone uses conditionals that way. My mother used to tell me "if you dont clean your room, i will murder you in the first degree" i hardly take that as a scientific claim nor is it a promise to factually end my life. To evaluate a conditional you have to consider its context. With a context you can have general rules how to handle them.


I'm going to go against the grain here and say that no, there is no coherent sense in which science necessarily depends on philosophy in and of itself.

By the definition of scientific pursuit, when science has become sufficiently robust we will not need philosophy or religion to understand any facet of reality that we encounter. We will simply design an experiment that allows us to test conjectures about the behavior of the facet under consideration, confirming or denying various properties of it until we have answered our question empirically.

Physics today is very far from being able to do this for questions like "what is consciousness", "what is the mind and how does it differ from the brain", "where does the law of gravity come from", etc., but it is an error of pride to claim that because we currently require philosophical conjectures to patch over scientific ignorance we will always need these philosophical patches (even if we cannot currently conceive of a way to do science non-phenomenologically).

It is possible that the nature of reality and its link to our consciousness fundamentally precludes us from being able to answer certain questions, but we are nowhere near being able to claim this with any certainty. If we do reach such a point we could reasonably say that our understanding of science requires some philosophical conjectures, but I still believe it is incoherent to claim that science itself depends on philosophy.

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    – user2953
    Oct 27, 2017 at 19:36

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