Questions tagged [philosophy-of-science]

for applied philosophical questions about the study of science, the pursuit of scientific knowledge, and the scientific method

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62
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12answers
7k views

How can an uneducated but rational person differentiate between science and religion?

I recently found myself unable to respond to the statement "But the big bang theory is just another creation myth!" during a science vs. religion argument. I found it very difficult to explain the ...
56
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15answers
22k views

Why does the universe obey scientific laws?

As far as anyone is aware, the universe consistently acts according to predictable laws (and scientific inquiry exists to determine those laws). Is there any metaphysical reason for this? Is such a ...
56
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25answers
8k views

Why is there something instead of nothing?

A simple but fundamental question. The "something" means the whole Universe (known and unknown), it could be represented as the reality version of the set of all sets, which is itself debated. It ...
55
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17answers
13k views

Why aren't creationism and natural science on the same intellectual level?

In the infamous creation museum a strategically very shrewd exhibit, where a scientist and a biblical scholar both study the same fossils, is being presented: The sign says “different scientists ...
49
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15answers
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In which way does quantum mechanics disprove determinism?

I've heard this pop up in a discussion with my physicist/engineer roommates, but didn't care to ask at the time. Now I'm mighty curious about it. Wikipedia doesn't really seem to say much on this ...
44
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15answers
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Is Mathematics always correct?

It seems Mathematical theories/Laws/Formulas are the least questioned in all of the sciences. Is mathematics that good at being closest to the laws of universe, or is it just a logical tool of our own ...
43
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14answers
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Is there an alternative to the scientific method?

Intro The scientific method is a key process of how we acquire knowledge and may shape our understanding of the world. If I am not mistaken, this method has been defined several times during our ...
42
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9answers
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What basis do we have for certainty in current scientific theories?

Given there is much past scientific belief that we now know NOT to be true, what basis do we have for the seemingly increasing certainty in our scientific beliefs held today being true? On the one ...
39
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12answers
5k views

What should philosophers know about math and natural sciences?

My question is whether a lack of knowledge about formal mathematics or theoretical science in general would have an impact on a philosopher's ability to think and make judgments. Why should a ...
34
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16answers
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Fundamental idea on proving God's existence with science

I think that proving God's existence or any deity from any culture with the rigors of science is fundamentally absurd. The popular arguments usually involve space-time and the big bang theory. (I ...
33
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7answers
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Are Methodological Assumptions of StackExchange Fundamentally Flawed?

I looked here for an answer while writing a paper on evidence and scientific inference. I then saw the bold claims made by the website that the process goes as follows: Anybody can ask a question ...
32
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13answers
15k views

Why are believers criticized so much for being anti-science when so many scientists are … believers?

My first introduction to philosophical debate was through Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. The idea that they hammered into a younger me was that faith was stupid and irrational and any person ...
32
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22answers
4k views

In what sense is atheism scientific?

I have been reading a bit of Dawkins and the like and they all seem to hold a very strong viewpoint on atheism and its associated ideology. I have not found a direct citation for this but he ...
32
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9answers
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Why is scientism philosophically wrong?

I think a combination of science and philosophy alone leads to closer to truth. Why is it that it is wrong to think that science alone leads to truth? Isn't empirical truth the only one we can be ...
32
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18answers
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What is the purpose of the universe?

There are two extremes known as creationism vs evolutionism. Let's consider creationism for a moment, and imagine that God exists, and he/she has created us. The question that obsesses my mind after ...
29
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14answers
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Do fundamental concepts in physics have any logical basis?

After years of studying physics I am suddenly struck by the question - What is energy? Wikipedia defines it thus: Energy is often understood as the ability a physical system has to do work on ...
27
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15answers
35k views

Is there anything that is totally random?

When I say totally random, I mean absolutely random, not pseudorandom. If I want to say "totally random" numbers such as 1,26,17,4,1 and 27, although I see them to be totally random, they aren't. ...
27
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9answers
197k views

What is the difference between Fact and Truth?

I'm curious about the difference between Fact and Truth. I was searching on the internet if I could find it. But still I'm confused about the exact meaning. I first read the forum discussion here Fact ...
26
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4answers
3k views

In what way(s) does popular New Atheism fail to be philosophical?

I've seen some derision against the popular New Atheism movement, in particular against Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris (particularly interesting since he makes a big deal that ...
25
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7answers
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What are some works that apply an axiomatic method to something other than mathematics?

The axiomatic method is today mostly associated with mathematics. However, historically there have been some works, as for example Spinoza's Ethics, that have applied axiomatic method to philosophy, ...
21
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15answers
4k views

Is there any rigorous philosophical basis for atheism?

Definition/Update In what follows I use the term God to refer to an entity that has at least one of the following properties: Has created the universe Is omnipotent Is omniscient Approaches to ...
21
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6answers
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Have professional philosophers contributed to other fields in the last 20 years?

Here are some quotes from Scott Aaronson's interview: progress in math and science — think of natural selection, Godel’s and Turing’s theorems, relativity and quantum mechanics — has repeatedly ...
21
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7answers
2k views

Is scientism a self defeating epistemology?

Some who have argued against the validity of scientism have argued that the view that only science can uncover truth is not a scientific discovery but rather a epistemology. Hence it has been claimed ...
20
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6answers
7k views

Falsification in Math vs Science

In the beginning it was thought that the statement 1+1=0 is false, and necessarily so. However, with the birth of modular arithmetic, it was found that indeed, 1+1 does indeed equal to 0 (in the mod 2 ...
20
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7answers
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What are the foundations of philosophy?

I'm a student majoring in mathematics. I've taken a course in mathematical logic and a course in set theory. My problem is basically that I'm always finding philosophical concepts, for example syntax, ...
20
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10answers
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Is the universe isomorphic to a universal turing machine?

I often think about problems that require an understanding of the very essence of computation and its inherent limitations. So, my questions are as followed: Is the universe isomorphic to a universal ...
20
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14answers
4k views

What is a straight line?

I am not a philosopher; I am an engineer with a reasonable grasp of mathematics. This question has been bothering me for a long time, and I have asked a variation of it to a mathematical community. ...
18
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10answers
2k views

Is it possible to scientifically determine good and evil?

Sam Harris has argued on many occasions - the earliest of which I'm aware of being in his book, The End of Faith, as well as later on in The Moral Landscape - that it is (at least theoretically) ...
18
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5answers
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Theories of Everything as a hold over from monotheism?

In his book "A Tear at the Edge of Creation", physicist Mario Gleiser argues that results from cosmology and particle physics make it unlikely that we will ever find an elegant unified theory of ...
18
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5answers
785 views

Do any philosophers disagree with Occam's razor?

I never bought into the razor. For example, if I have two hypotheses A and B with equal evidence, the razor would have me pick the simpler one. But personally in my mind, I create a sort of credence-...
18
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2answers
813 views

Is Science about Truth or Adequate Models?

Is it the general view amongst philosophers of science that science isn't about truth but rather adequately predictive models and therefore it doesn't make sense to speak of a scientific theory as ...
17
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11answers
8k views

Is Mathematics considered a science?

Science, generally is analyzing information gathered from observing phenomena, and coming up with theories to try and explain the phenomena. Then, attempting to predict a new phenomenon before it ...
16
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7answers
1k views

How much philosophy should a physicist know?

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 ...
16
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7answers
833 views

Is it possible for a layperson to suitably evaluate scientific disputes?

As a layperson, I try not to fall victim to the Dunning-Kruger effect. As an example, one area where I know that I am vulnerable is when biochemistry intersects with nutrition and disease. Is it ...
16
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6answers
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Thinkers and scientists opposed to philosophy?

I have heard of some thinkers having negative opinions on the use of philosophy. I want to understand this point of view. I would like to know the names of some thinkers, and especially scientists, ...
16
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4answers
759 views

What are some good books about the philosophy of quantum mechanics?

I am fascinated about the implications of quantum mechanics to philosophy. Where can I find good references to the philosophy of quantum mechanics, and its implications for realism/antirealism, holism,...
16
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3answers
660 views

What are the philosophical consequences of the undecidability of the spectral gap in quantum theory?

An article published in Nature yesterday proves that finding the spectral gap of a material based on a complete quantum level description of the material is undecidable (in the Turing sense). One of ...
15
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9answers
11k views

Does True Randomness actually exist? [duplicate]

I tend to think of randomness as a lack of complete information when it comes to knowing something. If we look at the history of probability theory it centers on a lack of knowing the exact outcome of ...
15
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6answers
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How is Philosophy related to Science?

I asked this question about Scientism and the answers there quite brilliantly explained to me why Scientism is philosophically inconsistent. But I just want to know: What is the relationship between ...
15
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5answers
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How to assess philosophically whether String Theory is Science or rather Metaphysics?

String theory substitutes basic particles with infinitesimal strings in order to reconcile the seemingly incompatible theories of gravity and of quantum world. But those new elements - the so called '...
14
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11answers
3k views

How NOT to know everything? Or how to deal with it [closed]

As a child I was mostly interested in biology, poetry, physics and mathematics, as a teenager I got interested in history, religion, languages and (of course) computers. I was (am?) pretty much sure ...
14
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14answers
16k views

Is “time” an abstract mental construct or does it exist independent of human consciousness?

When I consider my own existence with respect to time I can imagine three possibilities: (1) Time extends infinitely into the past. In this case, how can the present, with me in it, exist, since ...
14
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11answers
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If everything is theory laden, how can one argue against climate change deniers?

Per Quine's results from "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", the Duhem-Quine thesis, and later results such as those of Kuhn and Feyerabend, all empirical observations are theory laden. Even widely accepted ...
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4answers
2k views

Is geometry mathematical or empirical?

Is Euclidean geometry a mathematical theory, or is it a theory of empirical science? If taking it to be a mathematical theory would it be due to having alternative geometries? If so, is it in some ...
14
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5answers
731 views

Can philosophy overcome “the two cultures” divide?

Snow noted a growing divide between "the two cultures" in Western society, scientists and "literary intellectuals", who became increasingly self-absorbed and incomprehensible to each other. One of ...
14
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8answers
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What is the philosophy behind the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics?

Perhaps it is a stereotype, but I assumed that most physicists are empirical realists (external reality affects our senses, and science infers a representation of it from sensory data). At the same ...
14
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5answers
2k views

Does a Background in Mathematics Make One a Better Philosopher?

I was a Philosophy major as an undergrad and became obsessed with the beauty of rigorous argumentation. There I didn't take a single class listed under the Mathematics department and was almost ...
14
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4answers
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How can the physical world be an abstract mathematical structure a la Tegmark?

This is Tegmark's short formulation of the "mathematical universe" (paraphrased by detractors as "reality made of math"), and he goes out of his way to stress that he means the "is" literally:"Whereas ...
14
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1answer
560 views

How does Quine answer the metaphysician's charge that scientism is self-refuting?

General scientism seems to hold that due to the predictive powers of our scientific methods, such methods are preferred to other methods of knowledge, such as metaphysics (radical scientism claiming ...
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8answers
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Is time a physical factor or just a concept?

When thinking of cycles and myths, one cannot pass the idea of Kronos or Kali. That brought me to form some questions about the nature of time. Three definitions for time: Time is a measure of the ...