What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

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What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#1  Postby Hugin » Jun 14, 2011 3:46 pm

What do you think is the relationship between science and philosophy? Below is the view of Bertrand Russell, as quoted from his A History of Western Philosophy:

"Philosophy" is a word which has been used in many ways, sowe wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will soon try to explain.

Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge - so I should contend - belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attacks from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy.


In other words, philosophy is the left-overs of rational thought, that can't (yet) be tackled by science. Do you agree or not?

Historically, there is much merit to this description. Many fields that were once philosophical are now scientific. Currently, I think philosophy of mind is making progress into becoming a scientific field. However, I have a hard time seeing philosophy of science and epistemology ever becoming sciences.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#2  Postby Invictus_88 » Jun 14, 2011 4:50 pm

Given the breadth of both, it rather depends upon the branch of each.

The obvious old cliché is that science grew out of philosophy, though that's not really true. The "God of the Gaps" hypothesis adapted as a definition of philosophy doesn't hold any water for me either, given that philosophy deals intimately with the foundations of what we call science, and that what we call science has in turn been able to apply itself to matters of philosophy.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#3  Postby orpheus » Jun 14, 2011 10:42 pm

What is the relationship between science and philosophy? An uneasy one.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#4  Postby DrWho » Jun 14, 2011 10:44 pm

Science is a very specific highly defined methodical inquiry into the nature of empirical phenomena. Philosophy is a general inquiry into the fundamental meaning of life, knowledge and existence or lack thereof.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#5  Postby UndercoverElephant » Jun 14, 2011 11:01 pm

Hugin wrote:What do you think is the relationship between science and philosophy? Below is the view of Bertrand Russell, as quoted from his A History of Western Philosophy:

"Philosophy" is a word which has been used in many ways, sowe wider, some narrower. I propose to use it in a very wide sense, which I will soon try to explain.

Philosophy, as I shall understand the word, is something intermediate between theology and science. Like theology, it consists of speculations on matters as to which definite knowledge has, so far, been unascertainable; but like science, it appeals to human reason rather than to authority, whether that of tradition or that of revelation. All definite knowledge - so I should contend - belongs to science; all dogma as to what surpasses definite knowledge belongs to theology. But between theology and science there is a No Man's Land, exposed to attacks from both sides; this No Man's Land is philosophy.


In other words, philosophy is the left-overs of rational thought, that can't (yet) be tackled by science. Do you agree or not?


Not. I don't think philosophy (as it exists today) is "under attack" by either science or religion, although it must be aware of and respond to both of them. I don't believe science or religion can eat up any more philosophical territory, but I do think they can influence what is going in that philosophical territory. Quantum mechanics is a good example - it raises various philosophical issues, but doesn't offer any answers. "Attack" isn't the right word for this. Religion can hardly attack philosophy either, because it depends on things like faith and revelation, neither of which pose any sort of threat to philosophy.


Historically, there is much merit to this description. Many fields that were once philosophical are now scientific. Currently, I think philosophy of mind is making progress into becoming a scientific field.


I disagree. I think it is no closer to being a science than it was when it was invented.


However, I have a hard time seeing philosophy of science and epistemology ever becoming sciences.


If epistemology can't be a science, then neither can philosophy of mind. IMO...
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#6  Postby UndercoverElephant » Jun 14, 2011 11:04 pm

Invictus_88 wrote:Given the breadth of both, it rather depends upon the branch of each.

The obvious old cliché is that science grew out of philosophy, though that's not really true. The "God of the Gaps" hypothesis adapted as a definition of philosophy doesn't hold any water for me either, given that philosophy deals intimately with the foundations of what we call science, and that what we call science has in turn been able to apply itself to matters of philosophy.


Can you give an example?
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#7  Postby hoopy frood » Jun 15, 2011 3:03 am

What is the relationship between science and philosophy?



I'll share a personal insight.

Current scientific theory is that the cosmos is 11-dimensional and was brought into being by a clash of membranes. It has since undergone expansion which continues unabated.

Another ever-expanding entity brought into creation via a clash of membranes is a fart bubble in the bath, with which, I'm sure, we are all empirically familiar.

Deduction: Our cosmos is in fact a divine fart bubble in God's bathtub.

So science is the realm of understanding the nature of the bubble, but only philosophy can tell us whether or not God had meant to fart or not, or indeed, whether he derived any pleasure from it.


I hope this helps clarify the dominions.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#8  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 15, 2011 5:38 am

Hugin wrote:Many fields that were once philosophical are now scientific.


Name one.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#9  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Jun 15, 2011 6:00 am

Philosophy attempts to answer what science cannot.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#10  Postby Pebble » Jun 15, 2011 7:04 am

CdesignProponentsist wrote:Philosophy attempts to answer what science cannot.


Perhaps: Philosophy & science develop hypotheses about the natural world, testable hypotheses belong to the world of science. But untestable hypotheses are not answers - mere speculation.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#11  Postby epepke » Jun 15, 2011 8:13 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:
Hugin wrote:Many fields that were once philosophical are now scientific.


Name one.


Physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physics_(Aristotle)
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#12  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 15, 2011 10:14 am

epepke wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:
Hugin wrote:Many fields that were once philosophical are now scientific.


Name one.


Physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physics_(Aristotle)


I'm not sure it's accurate to claim that physics was initially philosophical and then became scientific. Physics, as termed by Aristotle, was a part of 'natural philosophy', which later became known as 'science', so whilst in a strictly literal sense it is true that physics went from being a 'philosophy' to 'science', this is simply because of a terminological change. To say that a field was once philosophical (i.e. it was a system of thought that was tested for logical consistency) but is now a science (i.e. a system dedicated to creating consistent empirical models about naturalistic claims) is really nonsensical since philosophy and science deal with different subject matter, use different tools, and have different ultimate goals.

If we were to claim that scientific fields emerged from philosophical thought, then certainly we could probably list nearly every branch of science, but I can't even begin to imagine how a philosophical field could become scientific. For example, I'm not sure how a field like the philosophy of mind could become scientific - what tests could or would we run to falsify dualism or to support materialism, etc?
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#13  Postby Rilx » Jun 15, 2011 10:41 am

The Atomic Theory of Democritos was a philosophical concept concerning the nature of matter. It's been and still is the basis of all particle interpretations of matter. Though it has inspired scientific theories and research, the idea of the philosphical atom has not yet been completely emptied into science.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#14  Postby Hugin » Jun 15, 2011 6:26 pm

Mr.Samsa wrote:For example, I'm not sure how a field like the philosophy of mind could become scientific - what tests could or would we run to falsify dualism or to support materialism, etc?


With increased knowledge, one of them will undoubtly look more likely than the other. Just as atomism turned up to be more likely than Aristotle's elements.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#15  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 16, 2011 1:36 am

Hugin wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:For example, I'm not sure how a field like the philosophy of mind could become scientific - what tests could or would we run to falsify dualism or to support materialism, etc?


With increased knowledge, one of them will undoubtly look more likely than the other. Just as atomism turned up to be more likely than Aristotle's elements.


Not comparable. Atomism and Aristotle's elements were both ideas on the physical nature of objects, they are (and always have been) testable by science, hence why they have always been considered a part of natural philosophy (science). In contrast, the philosophy of mind contains arguments which are not solvable by appeal to empirical evidence, so there is (for example) no way for science to demonstrate that materialism is more likely to be true than dualism since they both make the same predictions.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#16  Postby epepke » Jun 16, 2011 2:23 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:I'm not sure it's accurate to claim that physics was initially philosophical and then became scientific. Physics, as termed by Aristotle, was a part of 'natural philosophy', which later became known as 'science', so whilst in a strictly literal sense it is true that physics went from being a 'philosophy' to 'science', this is simply because of a terminological change. To say that a field was once philosophical (i.e. it was a system of thought that was tested for logical consistency) but is now a science (i.e. a system dedicated to creating consistent empirical models about naturalistic claims) is really nonsensical since philosophy and science deal with different subject matter, use different tools, and have different ultimate goals.


I don't think that's what the claim is. The claim is that certain things (in this case, objects, their motion, and matter) were historically owned by philosophers and dealt with by methods that even now we would consider philosophical, and the control was later wrested away by people using methods we would even now consider scientific.

If we were to claim that scientific fields emerged from philosophical thought, then certainly we could probably list nearly every branch of science, but I can't even begin to imagine how a philosophical field could become scientific.


It's not so much that philosophical fields became scientific. It's that science managed to get a better handle on things that were formerly the province of philosophy.
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For example, I'm not sure how a field like the philosophy of mind could become scientific - what tests could or would we run to falsify dualism or to support materialism, etc?


I don't know what tests anybody could run, but it's certainly possible that scientists could say so much about the mind that philosophical concepts like dualism could become trivial by comparison.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#17  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 16, 2011 2:33 am

epepke wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote:I'm not sure it's accurate to claim that physics was initially philosophical and then became scientific. Physics, as termed by Aristotle, was a part of 'natural philosophy', which later became known as 'science', so whilst in a strictly literal sense it is true that physics went from being a 'philosophy' to 'science', this is simply because of a terminological change. To say that a field was once philosophical (i.e. it was a system of thought that was tested for logical consistency) but is now a science (i.e. a system dedicated to creating consistent empirical models about naturalistic claims) is really nonsensical since philosophy and science deal with different subject matter, use different tools, and have different ultimate goals.


I don't think that's what the claim is. The claim is that certain things (in this case, objects, their motion, and matter) were historically owned by philosophers and dealt with by methods that even now we would consider philosophical, and the control was later wrested away by people using methods we would even now consider scientific.

If we were to claim that scientific fields emerged from philosophical thought, then certainly we could probably list nearly every branch of science, but I can't even begin to imagine how a philosophical field could become scientific.


It's not so much that philosophical fields became scientific. It's that science managed to get a better handle on things that were formerly the province of philosophy.


The problem, however, is that we're discussing a pre-scientific time, where it's inaccurate to say that these things were dealt with by philosophy instead of science, because the natural philosophy of the time was science. It was poorly conducted perhaps, and used methods that we no longer use, but the core components, assumptions and axioms were the same. To say that science "wrested away" these fields from philosophy, is like saying modern geneticists "wrested away" evolution from early Darwinists.

epepke wrote:
For example, I'm not sure how a field like the philosophy of mind could become scientific - what tests could or would we run to falsify dualism or to support materialism, etc?


I don't know what tests anybody could run, but it's certainly possible that scientists could say so much about the mind that philosophical concepts like dualism could become trivial by comparison.


Trivial in what sense? For creating useful models of observations science could suggest that claims of dualism are unnecessary, but this obviously doesn't mean that dualism is false or any less likely to be true. The thing to keep in mind is that science is not a tool for discovering truth or reality, it's a tool for creating practical frameworks of knowledge. Issues of ontology and metaphysics are of course outside the reach of science.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#18  Postby SpeedOfSound » Jun 16, 2011 5:18 am

Mr.Samsa wrote: Issues of ontology and metaphysics are of course outside the reach of science.


As is the case with all other nonsense.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#19  Postby IIzO » Jun 16, 2011 5:30 am

I find it hard to say that science doesn't say anything about metaphysics while everything in science is about properties of things within nature.
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Re: What is the relationship between science and philosophy?

#20  Postby Mr.Samsa » Jun 16, 2011 5:38 am

SpeedOfSound wrote:
Mr.Samsa wrote: Issues of ontology and metaphysics are of course outside the reach of science.


As is the case with all other nonsense.


Indeed. Just because it's beyond the reach of science doesn't mean that the terms are meaningful or that the areas are valid realms of inquiry. It does, however, mean that the question of the validity of the areas is not suitable for scientific discussion. For example, the notion of a "mental" aspect to reality (as suggested by dualism) may very well be absolute and utter nonsense, but no amount of scientific evidence will ever be able to demonstrate it, nor will you find any evidence to suggest that materialism is a valid assumption for the 'reality' of the world.

IIzO wrote:I find it hard to say that science doesn't say anything about metaphysics while everything in science is about properties of things within nature.


The problem most people have is failing to recognise the difference between the scientific field, and the philosophy that underpins it. For example, whilst physics studies the movement of objects and invokes concepts such as causality, etc, to explain them, the scientific findings and interpretations are not metaphysical (i.e. they simply discuss phenomena). When physicists start talking about the fundamental nature of objects, and causality, and time, etc, then they are engaging in the philosophy of physics - which is a metaphysical, and non-scientific, pursuit.

Once people realise that science and philosophy are inextricably linked, and cannot be in conflict, issues like "science cannot say anything about metaphysics" become much easier to understand.
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