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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What is the philosophical status of interpretations of a scientific theory?

What constitutes an interpretation of a scientific theory? Are interpretations subject to scientific criteria like falsifiability, repeatability, etc, or are they philosophical comments? And finally, ...
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Why does science carry so much weight in philosophy when it is highly fallacious?

Science works like this: We observe some phenomenon X. We form one or more hypothesis about what the relationship between X and something else might be. We evaluate the predictive power of the ...
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What is the contrast between Hume's and Locke's philosophies of science?

I'm writing an essay on Hume and was hoping to contrast his empiricism to Locke's in it. I have come across a commentary, which doesn't go into great depth; could someone explain it in a little ...
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Are QM interpretations physics or philosophy?

Are QM interpretations physics or philosophy? I asked a question on physics.stackexchange, and was told they were philosophy. Does anyone disagree?
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What is the relation between calculus and Aristotle's view of infinite divisibility?

According to an article by Rowan, Aristotle very practically, pointed out that there was a threshold to get something moving when there is resistance to friction: 'one man cannot move a ship' as ...
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Thermodynamics of Occam's Razor

Occam's Razor states, essentially, that among hypotheses with similar explanatory power, the simplest hypothesis should be favored as the most plausible. Thermodynamics states, at zero temperature, ...
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194 views

Why do realists not define measurement?

I have recently read that different interpretation of QM define measurement differently, but that some realists (examples?) refuse to define measurement at all..why is this? I'm taking a class on the ...
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189 views

Is it possible to construct falsifiable evolutionary hypotheses about behaviour?

My question is very much contained in the title. Most human behaviours are the object of many hypotheses based in the theory of evolution. Usually an hypothesis will arise as a model that explains a ...
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558 views

Structural Realism vs. Scientific Formalism?

How exactly do structural realism and scientific formalism differ? Are they compatible, or is this another rehashing of, say, the rationalism vs. idealism debate? I know Galileo, Kepler, et al. were ...
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A Popper question about corroboration

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_of_induction#Karl_Popper The rational motivation for choosing a well-corroborated theory is that it is simply easier to falsify: Well-corroborated means ...
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What is the tradition of reasoning behind Archimedes's “a priori” derivation of the law of the lever?

Today we get the law of the lever by empirical experiment or see it as a special case of the principle of least action. Assuming only gravity acts, with weights of masses m₁, m₂ and corresponding ...
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287 views

Have any philosophers applied the concept of “underdetermination” to non-scientific contexts?

Most resources I've found on underdetermination approach the subject within the context of science. That's definitely a fascinating area of study, but I'd like to explore ways of applying ...
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What is Feyerabend advocating when he says that science should be separate from the state just as the church is?

In the closing chapter of "Against Method", Feyerabend states that: "Science is neither a single tradition, nor the best tradition there is, except for people who have become accustomed to its ...
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Should modern empiricists embrace string theory?

Conventional wisdom says "no", lack of new predictions being the main criticism. Johansson and Matsubara review string theory from various empiricist perspectives, and the best they can say (for ...
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292 views

Is there a boundary on 'physical'?

I have asserted many times here that physicalism as degraded into an undecidable question, and I would like to see how strong my understanding is. It seems to me that whenever we approach the ...
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Suggested intro level readings for Realism vs. Anti-Realism in Philosophy of Science?

So I'll likely be teaching an undergraduate class on Realism vs. Anti-Realism in the Philosophy of Science next fall. I figured I'd fish for some suggestions on accessible and engaging literature in ...
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On the determination of scientific consensus

The question: Are there any philosophers or sociologists who have written about the process in which the scientific community decides that a body of evidence is enough to consider a particular theory ...
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324 views

Does Quine consider the Homeric gods to have predictive power?

Quine wrote in his 1951 paper "Two Dogmas of Empiricism": "Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries not by definition in terms of experience, but ...
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404 views

Why is Hesperus necessarily Phosphorus?

"Hesperus (the evening star) is Phosphorus (the morning star)" is one of Kripke's examples of necessary aposteriori, statements that are true necessarily if true at all, even if their truth can only ...
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636 views

Where does Aristotle's Posterior Analytics disagree with modern philosophy of science?

Aristotle's Posterior Analytics is the basis of the modern scientific method of arguing from effects to the causes of things ("demonstration quia" or "a posteriori"). The ideal [of a unified ...
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100 views

Prominence of Scientific Realism and Anti-Realism

Just what is the current dominant view on the realism/anti-realism debate on the matter of science? I have read from multiple sources that there is a consistent back-and-forth, but does academic ...
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365 views

Are there some facets of perceptual experience which cannot be characterized as conceptual?

Some philosophers (e.g John McDowell) argue that the content of perceptual experience is necessarily characterized by conceptual terms; namely - the content of the experience is entirely built of ...
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How did philosophy react to empirical psychology when there have been disagreements?

The very first laboratory in psychology was developed by Wundt, a professor of philosophy, in late 1800s. And indeed the early psychology seemed very close to armchair philosophy. Freud's theories ...
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171 views

Is there still any philosopher who supports the incompatibility thesis in the social sciences?

The incompatibility thesis asserts that quantitative and qualitative research paradigms are inherently different from each other. Their irreconcilable differences prevent the possibility of a mixed-...
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Assessing the Ethics of Building Unsafe Structures

While doing a Ethics for Engineer's subunit (a few months ago), I came up with the follow problem, and have been wondering about it since. As an Engineer, you may be asked to build a water treatment ...
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157 views

To which extent can we understand the brain?

If single cells or populations highly dependent of sensory input can often be modeled with so called receptive fields. For neurons and populations close to some motor output, they can be modeled with ...
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How do disjunctive antecedents work in Marc Lange's stability concept of laws of nature?

I'm an ecology student who's dabbling into philosophy of science. I'm currently writing a term paper on laws of nature (with a focus on ecology as a special science) and try to wrap my mind around ...
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Does truth not require belief?

The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.--Neil Degrasse Tyson Such scientific medievalism runs rampant today and speaks to the propaganda of vacuous ...
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Should a mathematician/physicist know any philosophy?

mathematics is full of circular reasoning, infinite regress and paradoxes. It may be exist, it may be fictional. Of course, it has no more infinite regress than any other discipline that depends on ...
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693 views

Is science a social process, rather than a method for finding the truth?

I have encountered an argument that I find interesting, but cannot understand the principles behind. It is simply as the title states: Science is not a method for finding the truth, it is a method ...
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Would a theoretical decision maker subscribing to the following principles decide against human abortion?

I'd like to ask a purely logical question (with no regards to personal "opinion" or religion) about the interpretation of science on the matter of abortion in the situation of a decision being made ...
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Should viable philosophical theories not always be consistent with science?

One of the phenomena of modern philosophy which has troubled me, particularly in the discussion of analytical metaphysics, is its almost complete disregard for established science. It's as if ...
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Is atheism or agnosticism more rational?

While there is still widespread disagreement regarding the existing definition of atheism, it is normally considered as the "Rejection of belief in the existence of deities". One accepted definition ...
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286 views

Can science claim to explain all experience?

If so, how strong a claim? To expand the question: if there is a god that can be experienced, does that experience escape science? And a third question: can humans define something, or work with ...
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A proposition is non-falsifiable. So what?

Does Karl Popper argue that non-falsifiable theories are not true/have no truth value, or simply that they are not provable? Put another way: according to Popper, could a non-falsifiable theory ...
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Is isotope dating falsifiable?

I'd like to ask if the dating " saying something has existed for XXXX years " is scientific ? When i try to apply the criterion of being falsifiable i find that the dating fails to satisfy that ...
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Can mathematics be political?

The Liverpool Tate have an exhibition currently running that discusses the dialectic between politics and art - the situationists, Bertolt Brecht and earlier the patronage of the court. Mathematics, (...
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Occams principle is seen as a corner-stone of modern science, are there any examples where its opposite is shown to be useful?

Occams razor states that given a choice between differing explanations one should always choose the simplest. Of course this begs the question as to what one could mean by simplest. I'm interested in ...
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If nothing happens, does time still pass?

This question may have been asked before; actually, it's definitely been asked before, since it's on the topic of whether time is real or a man-made construct, but I don't believe it has yet been ...
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Do theories come from observations or do they determine what is observed?

While re-reading Shimon Malin’s “Nature Loves to Hide” I was trying to get a better grasp of the distinction between Ernst Mach’s philosophy that theory comes from observable magnitudes alone and what ...
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642 views

Would Popper's philosophy become pragmatist without the idea of getting closer to “The Truth”?

Popper believed that scientific knowledge is obtained through conjectures and refutations; the refutation of Newton's theory by Einstein is an example. He also believed that in this way science ...
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Is the claim that atheism is the null hypothesis invalid because it applies a physical measurement to the metaphysical?

I've heard several people state that: Atheism is the null hypothesis. ie that this null hypothesis can be falsified: if one piece of evidence is found to contradict it, the existence is considered ...
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Origin of the idea that something can't be proved, only disproved

Does anyone know if the idea that something can't be proved, only disproved has a specific origin? I often hear it and would like to make a reference to it in a term paper I'm writing. Is it from the ...
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One big theory of Everything (TOE) or multiple “domain specific” theories?

It's common to hear that physicists are trying to find a Theory of everything (TOE). We "logically" consider the more elegant / concise theory as true ... because beauty is thruth ... or is it ? What ...
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Logical fallacy: when you know the outcome, so you cannot see any other possible ex ante prediction

Is there a term for this type of logical fallacy? One person asserts that theory A would predict outcome X. We have observed, however, that outcome Y occurred and not outcome X. The first person ...
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Why do I believe in climate change?

I hear from some of my friends, family, and other people whose opinion I generally respect that the Earth's climate is either not changing or that climate change is part of the Earth's natural climate ...
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894 views

Does Quantum Entanglement Disprove the Principle of Locality?

Regarding the debate between quantum mechanics and determinism I have encountered a problem I can't find the answer to. It is my impression that in order to solve Bell's inequality you would have to ...
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underdetermination in the engineering world

Newbie here- please go easy on me. Now that I am retired from the world of physics and engineering, I am struggling to come to terms with my career failings. The most spectacular of these occurred ...
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How to argue for science against religion (ft. IASIP)?

(I previously asked posted this in Skeptics SE but was told that this might be a better SE for my specific question.) I was watching this scene from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" where Mac (a ...
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Rudolf Carnap's opinion about free will

I know that the logical positivists thought that many old philosophical questions are meaningless, but I never found a source on the internet about their position on free will. So what was their ...