Is no philosophy better than any philosophy?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Seattle, Dec 4, 2016.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Science is a branch of knowledge. In fact, its Greek root means "to know". Philosophy has a whole sub-field called epistemology that concerns itself with how we know things, what it means to know things and what can be known.

    Are you not in the least concerned or interested as to whether scientific knowledge rests on a firm footing?

    It's one thing to say that you personally don't want to devote any time or thought to philosophy, but that doesn't make it irrelevant.

    It seems to me that all you're saying is "It's not my concern. I'm more interested in other things." So, that's just an expression of your own personal focus, nothing more.
    danshawen likes this.
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    While it may be true that I'm more interested in other things personally and I'm not saying that any area of academic endeavor is without value I don't think philosophy determines whether scientific knowledge rests on a firm foundation.

    Peer review, whether a finding is repeatable, falsifiable and the standards of any testing are the kinds of things included in the scientific method. That's where the firm foundation comes from not particularly from philosophy.

    If someone involved in the philosophy of science happens to be involved with the rest of the scientific community is hashing out the appropriate standards great. I think the outcome would be similar were there no such field (philosophy of science) however. I could be wrong of course.
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  5. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    It's impossible to get rid of philosophy. Doing so would mean returning to the intellectual level of animals, eliminating science, logic, knowledge and reason. No more cause-and-effect, no more laws-of-nature, no more scientific-method. There are huge metaphysical and epistemological assumptions implicit in all of those things.

    I think that most people are going to have ethics and make ethical judgments. That's part of human nature. People are going to have ideas about how they want the society around them organized. People are going to embrace values that might not be shared by their neighbors, so there will need to be ways of addressing those kind of disagreements, short of battle-to-the-death. Right now we seem to have too little of that, not too much.

    I strongly agree that humanity would probably be better off if people were less politically ideological. At the moment, everyone seems to be divided up into hostile, contending political tribes. That's almost inevitable though, given the attacks on national and religious identity and the cultures that people once identified with. People are always going to feel an emotional need to belong to something bigger than themselves. So apparently our intellectual elites have decided that it's going to be identity politics.

    Personally, I think that's a disaster.

    And I strongly agree with the idea that we probably should be more pragmatic in our decision making, less prone to make decisions based only on whether they conform to the opinions of our chosen tribe. We should be less attached to grand political theories (Marxism! Libertarianism!) and more attentive to what is most likely to work in particular cases. But making that decision is still going to require some evaluative criterion that everyone is unlikely to agree on.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    In the English-speaking world at least, the word 'philosophy' has come to mean the examination of the most basic assumptions and principles underlying any area of behavior or inquiry.

    Seeing as how 'science' began its career as the Latin word for 'knowledge', epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge) is obviously relevant.

    Epistemology inquires into questions associated with the different objects of knowledge (the external world, the past, the future, values, abstractions, minds) and supposed sources of knowledge (perception, memory, reason, introspection, intuition, religious experience, ESP), along with the relationship of knowledge to certainty, doubt, justification, evidence, belief, causation and revisability.

    Contemporary proponents of scientism are very fond of thinking that they are the rational ones, the practitioners of logic. So philosophical logic is obviously relevant too. There are epistemological questions about logic: how are logical relationships known? Regarding deductive logic, the philosophy of logic inquires into the relationship between formal logic and informal reasoning in natural language. It also investigates problems associated with meaning, truth, implication, and many more technical topics like modality, tense, model theory and set theory. Consideration of inductive logic introduces problems involving probability, confirmation and inference to the best explanation.

    The philosophy of science investigates what science's aims are (explanation, truth, simplicity, coherence, prediction, practical use), how science changes over time, how different sciences are related (reducibility), questions about the methods science employs (induction, hypothetico-deductive method, confirmation, falsification, observation and experiment, measurement and taxonomy) and what science presupposes or tells us about the nature of reality itself (realism/ instrumentalism, status of theoretical entities, quantum/classical issues, nature of physical law, uniformity of nature, the relation of mathematics and logic to physical reality, how causation should be conceived, and issues regarding space and time).

    The fact is that scientists are constantly philosophizing, even if they are doing it thoughtlessly, implicitly and unconsciously. They are still very much the "natural philosophers" that they were known as before the word "scientist" was coined in the 1830's by William Whewell.

    It's one thing to for people to say that they personally don't want to devote any time or thought to philosophy, but that doesn't make the examination of fundamental methods and assumptions irrelevant, to science or to any other field of human endeavor.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
    exchemist and James R like this.
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

    Sure it's science now, but at one time wasn't it also purely philosophical to even ask such questions?
    Agreed, and some of those questions have been answered and remain as support for practical science.

    OK. I now accept that.
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    What else could determine it? You can't judge the legitimacy of a system from entirely within the system itself. Every system and method rests on assumptions and axioms.

    Ideas of why repeatability and falsifiability are even important are philosophical ideas, not scientific ones. As for peer review, that's a more general idea that has application outside science. It also has a philosophical basis.

    I think it's a mistake to assume that scientists don't rely on a particular philosophy to do what they do. That philosophy (or those philosophies, more likely) is often not explicitly stated, but it's certainly there. Part of the aim of the philosophy of science is to unpack the kinds of automatic assumptions and methods that scientists make and use almost without thinking about it. The assumptions and methods built into their training as scientists, and in their practice as working professionals.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I don't think it matters what you call it but scientists generally are the ones who are qualified in their fields to design the tests that others in their field should undertake.

    We use attorneys to try cases. We use attorneys to try both sides of a case and another attorney to judge the case. Philosophers don't come in to set the standards.

    Sure philosophy in the most general sense is used by us all but in my private life (for example) when I run into a moral question I don't go to a professional philosopher for his/her input.
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Sure. They're working inside the "system", and the system rests on the underlying philosophies of the system.

    Actually, there's a whole other sub-field of philosophy that examines the philosophy of law. And morality and ethics, which underpins most law, is a well-known philosophical field. So, in a sense, the philosophers do set the standard. Or, rather, the lawyers rely on particular philosophies to set the standards in the legal profession.

    Most people build up their own heuristic system of morality that works well enough for them most of the time. That is to say, most people are non-experts in terms of morality, just as most people are non-experts in terms of science. They don't know nothing about it, but what they do know is often poorly organised, incomplete and sometimes not internally consistent.

    Ethical philosophy is a scholarly pursuit that can teach us a lot about how and why we make the moral decisions we do. The fact that, by necessity, you make moral decisions without consulting professional philosophers in no way devalues professional moral philosophers. You also probably make financial decisions without expert financial advice, and child-rearing decisions (if you're a parent) without the advice of child-rearing experts, and decisions about your diet without consulting a professional dietition.
  13. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    That is an interesting philosophy.

    I get somewhat frustrated when observing a philosophical discussion from the side lines because it often gets beyond I point I consider meaningful however I think without (if nothing else) the philosophy of science in play we would have little hope of science holding a meaningful course.

    If one claims to support mainstream science and not have at least a minimal understanding of Poppers work it would be reasonable to question if one has an understanding of science.

  14. river Valued Senior Member

    To your last statement

    But you think upon ...philosophy
  15. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I think most people are not left or right of center when it comes to most philosophies, but most are center/moderate. And it's probably part of being human that causes us to hold onto any philosophies at all. Think life would be pretty dull if we didn't learn from different philosophies and possibly, build our own.
  16. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Carlos Castaneda:
    "To be without thought is to be with power."
  17. danshawen Valued Senior Member

    That's hitting the nail right on the head, James. But there's more to be said about "personal focus" as it applies to philosophy.

    For teaching interns, they still ask them to present a philosophy of teaching/education at the beginning of their careers as teachers. I tried doing that long before I caught on exactly what a philosophy of teaching had to be. It was only by observing what the best teachers do, and for an extended period that I eventually got it. No lesson plan that does not take into account the idea that if students are not engaged and interested in what you wish to teach them will ever work. There are tricks the best teachers know to effect this, but it is not rocket science, and strictly speaking, it isn't really philosophy either.

    And if you don't get it pretty quickly, your teaching career will also be over before it ever gets started. Philosophy of teaching really has little or nothing to do with any success that comes. It was never about you. Your student's "personal focus" is key.
  18. river Valued Senior Member

    Which is what fundamentally philosophy is about .


    The truth is , you found ; that the students' " personal focus " is key .

    Philosophy , can be there , when you think it isn't .


    The students had the philosophy from the start ; hence their personal " focus " .
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2017
  19. Han Registered Member

    I don't know exactly what Seattle thinks a philosophy is, but there are a lot of good things that don't have philosophies, such as bats, money, and oranges.

    I don't know if bats, money, and oranges are better than people that have philosophies, but maybe if you had enough of them, they would be. There are also a lot of really unhappy people who have philosophies. If you think being happy is a good thing, it's possible some of those people would be happier if they were bats, money, and oranges.
  20. Michael 345 Valued Senior Member

    You should try herding ants with a helicopter
  21. wellwisher

    The random universe philosophy is the backbone of many areas of science. There are many theories that depend on this assumption. This philosophy conflicts with the well documented observation that we live in a quantum universe. A quantum universe has only limited predetermined states and is therefore not exactly random. For example, the hydrogen atom has five energy levels. These are not random, but are based on very specific energy quanta, that need to happen in conjunction, for these states to appear. The dice are loaded. If we only have one given energy quanta, there is only one possible outcome.

    If we had a larger volume of hydrogen gas, we may model this as a random distribution. This is a useful simplification, since it would be very difficult to watch all the molecules and/or atoms. However, we also know that a quantum universe does not allow all possibilities implicit of random.

    One problem that can occur in science, is one can still show repeatable results, in science, even with a bad philosophy. If you assume a random universe, one will appear to see this and your results will appear to show this. The results will also appear to be confirmed by others, who have the same philosophy. One needs to go back to the foundation premises to make sure this adds up to a quantum universe, which it does not.

    This particular philosophical science paradox, is connected to the practical utility of a tool, being mistaken as a sign for proven reality. Statistics is a very useful tool. You place the phenomena in a black box and monitor inputs and outputs. In this case, inside the black box, is matter from a quantum universe. However, the use of the black box does not allow you to see this, since the matter and energy from the quantum universe is hidden in the black box, and lumped as random by the tool. The result is a statistical random tail philosophy, appears to wag a quantum universe dog. It is sort of like magic.

    I am not anti-science, but rather I am pro truth with sound philosophical foundations.
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Rigorous deduction: logic, mathematics. (Includes "inductive proof" in mathematics).
    Rigorous induction: science
    Rigorous abduction: music, the arts - and evolution.
  23. wellwisher

    Deduction and Abduction both come down to foundation premises. Foundation premises are the most fundamental assumptions of science. These are so well accepted, they become an unconscious and unspoken part of any abduction analysis. For example, in the middle ages it was very well known, by the consensus, that the earth was flat. If you said otherwise, you were a witch. If they had forums back then, and I was to claim the earth was round, I would be warned and then banned if do not stop saying this, because everyone knows the earth was flat, therefore I will be accused of teaching misinformation.

    Because the flat earth was so well known and widely accepted as a dogma, it became a given in any new theory. Theory will need to consciously and unconsciously align with the well known and consensus foundation premise, that the earth is flat. In my last post, I showed how the random theory, which is fundamental to many areas of science, is a random tail wagging a quantum dog. However, the random foundation premise, to many, needs to be an unconscious part of new theory in their field. Any new theory has to align with the relative reference connected to the tail, to be assumed proper and correct. If you try to align a theory, with quantum determinism, it will not feel right and you will called a witch, even if correct.

    Abduction and deduction are often done on a narrow part of reality. This narrow part of reality is built upon the same theoretical foundation premises for all of science, which are often so far away, not to be questioned. Yet, they will play a role in how your theory needs to align to feel right.

    It is like building a house, once the foundation and footings are set, the finish carpenters don't have to consider these again. They assume these were designed to be able to support all the weight your are adding. You continue to build based on it al being in balance. But if you don;t mind getting dirty, it is useful to go into the basement and look at the beams and footing to make sure we can add that extra floor or put a pool on the roof.

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