Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philosophy

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philosophy

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 12:53 am 

Philosophy and science seem to be at odds with each other. Ages ago, there was no clear distinction between the two. Today, the scientists divorce themselves from philosophy as if to say science has no relation to philosophical problems and philosophy has no relation to scientific ones.

How to sort out philosophical questions from scientific ones sounds like a chore. Yet, the scientists themselves are human and as such are moral agents and responsible, at least partly, for the things they do and their duty to understand the best way for them to behave between themselves and the rest of humanity.

Philosophical questions can only help scientists in this sense.
Michael Lee
 


Re: Is there virtue in science?

Postby Fuqin on September 1st, 2013, 6:30 am 

I think virtue even in philosophical terms may be a debatable issue , i mean what is it ? (virtue) surly within the struggle of human nature ,questions of is what is truly virtuous , become questions of what is motive , and motive become questions of programming ,and the biology , and then we go into questions of free will etc etc , BUT virtue is loaded with cultural and philosophical anomaly's which cover the human called a scientist anynways , are they not ?
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Re: Is there virtue in science?

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 10:18 am 

Fuqin wrote: BUT virtue is loaded with cultural and philosophical anomaly's which cover the human called a scientist anynways , are they not ?


True, what is virtue is a philosophical question, but scientists have a tendency to say "keep it in the arts faculty" as it has no place in science. It's as if they don't even want to try and understand it.

No, scientists are excluded from humanity for good reason because they never engage the subject of philosophy seriously. What is science good for? It's a simple question.

Considering the Nobel Prizes originate from some guy who invented Dynamite, I wouldn't at all be surprised if, from a consequential view, science is really bad for us.

And the Nobel prizes for literature and peace are a joke.
Michael Lee
 


Re: Is there virtue in science?

Postby Gregorygregg1 on September 1st, 2013, 10:47 am 

Michael Lee wrote:Considering the Nobel Prizes originate from some guy who invented Dynamite, I wouldn't at all be surprised if, from a consequential view, science is really bad for us.

And the Nobel prizes for literature and peace are a joke.



Science is a branch of philosophy. It represents a search for objective truth. How people use objective truth is a different aspect of philosophy. Philosophy is love of wisdom. You cannot have wisdom without truth, but you can have truth without wisdom. Truth bears no burden of morality. The evolution of science and the human ability to deal with the power it bestows is a great philosophical challenge. How do we consciously impart the inhibitions necessary to keep us from using the power of knowledge to destroy ourselves as a species?
Your observation that science may be bad for us only has validity if we persist in being ego driven. It is the self-serving use of the fruits of science that endangers us.
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Re: Is there virtue in science?

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 12:31 pm 

I went too far to say scientists are not a part of humanity; but I doubt they really care about the consequences to humanity as a result of their unwavering curiosity. It's like they don't care as they are too busy making a name for themselves, seeking that elusive Nobel prize perhaps; this sounds more like politics than science.

Besides, what does science have anything to do with the way of truth, as they so frequently claim to possess?
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Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 6:54 pm 

I've had it explained to me that "Science and philosophy are much like siamese twins who get separated at birth but now don't like each other very much, as one is evil and the other is good. They meet occasionally for Christmas and Thanksgiving trying very hard to be civil to one another."

So, if it is true scientists hate philosophers, where does all this feeling of disdain come from? Was it because Aristotle, despite his brilliance beyond even Newton and Einstein, caused all the problems because the politics of the day said 'thou shall not contradict Aristotle'?

Or the fact the Roman Catholic church decided to imprison Galileo for saying he saw
moons around Jupiter? Perhaps he wasn't imprisoned after all, but rather confined to a mental institution?
Michael Lee
 


Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby ComplexityofChaos on September 1st, 2013, 8:09 pm 

Wow!? You are really going to claim Aristotle was smarter than Newton and Einstein? On what basis? Besides, couldn't an argument be made that Aristotle was just as much of a scientist, for his time, as a philosopher?

And are you sure you are correct that scientists hate philosophy, as opposed to a handful of ignorant scientists, like Hawking, Harris, Krauss and Dawkins? Since when do those latter scientists represent all scientists or even a majority of them?
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Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 8:37 pm 

ComplexityofChaos wrote:Wow!? You are really going to claim Aristotle was smarter than Newton and Einstein? On what basis? Besides, couldn't an argument be made that Aristotle was just as much of a scientist, for his time, as a philosopher?

And are you sure you are correct that scientists hate philosophy, as opposed to a handful of ignorant scientists, like Hawking, Harris, Krauss and Dawkins? Since when do those latter scientists represent all scientists or even a majority of them?


Aristotle provides us with a lot of access to the beliefs of the powerful presocratic thinkers who lived before him. Dante rightfully said Aristotle is "The master of those who know".

But wouldn't you agree with me the so-called "celebrity scientists" you mention, are very popular and as such influential on other peoples' beliefs? After all, various religious views, including agnosticism and atheism, quote Einstein as supporting their selfish viewpoints. As if Einstein would know the answer of whether God exists or not. It's kind of like asking a plumber to fix the air conditioner.
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Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby ComplexityofChaos on September 1st, 2013, 8:47 pm 

Michael Lee wrote:
ComplexityofChaos wrote:Wow!? You are really going to claim Aristotle was smarter than Newton and Einstein? On what basis? Besides, couldn't an argument be made that Aristotle was just as much of a scientist, for his time, as a philosopher?

And are you sure you are correct that scientists hate philosophy, as opposed to a handful of ignorant scientists, like Hawking, Harris, Krauss and Dawkins? Since when do those latter scientists represent all scientists or even a majority of them?


Aristotle provides us with a lot of access to the beliefs of the powerful presocratic thinkers who lived before him. Dante rightfully said Aristotle is "The master of those who know".

But wouldn't you agree with me the so-called "celebrity scientists" you mention, are very popular and as such influential on other peoples' beliefs? After all, various religious views, including agnosticism and atheism, quote Einstein as supporting their selfish viewpoints. As if Einstein would know the answer of whether God exists or not. It's kind of like asking a plumber to fix the air conditioner.


I'm still not buying that Aristotle was smarter than Newton or Einstein. I'm not even sure that there is a way to quantify such a thing. I have studied both Newton and Einstein in college, when working on a degree in physics, and I can tell you that both of them were incredibly bright. I'm not suggesting that Aristotle wasn't bright as well, but I just can't see anyone being any smarter than Newton or Einstein. There may be people who are as smart, but smarter? You'll need to bring a lot more evidence to the table than what I have seen saw far to prove that claim.

And you have switched topics. Sure, there are a lot of people who follow those "celebrity scientists," but there are also a lot of scientists and philosophers who recognize that the celebrity status of the people I mentioned hardly covers for the fact that they are wrong on numerous claims they make. So? Your point? I still don't believe the majority of scientists hate philosophers. Einstein, as an example, was a huge fan of Spinoza, he definitely had a man-crush on the guy.

And I would stop making blanket, unfounded, attacks against atheists. Bigotry is not a sign of intelligence.
ComplexityofChaos
 


Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 9:08 pm 

Read the thread carefully. I wasn't the first to mention these so-called "celebrity scientists" - you did! And, to say one thing is smarter than another, you would need to have a criterion to judge the matter. And another to judge the first, and another to judge the second, and so on. So, no belief can ever be justified.

Let's bury the hatchet and I won't dare compare your ever so special Einstein to Aristotle because as you say, there is no means to judge the question.

And I never attacked the atheists.

"Bigotry is not a sign of intelligence." - oh please! Wrongly accusing one of being a bigot is lame; there's nothing wrong with atheism or agnosticism.

Fair enough.

Michael
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Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby Paralith on September 1st, 2013, 9:48 pm 

I consider myself a scientist. And I don't hate philosophy.

I understand that science is a branch of philosophy. It makes some basic assumptions about the universe and a good scientist ought to be aware of and understand them, and I believe I do. But there is a reason that I chose to specialize in this particular branch of philosophy as opposed to the others. My mind more readily bends to empiricism than it does to other modes of thought; I enjoy it more. It appeals to me as a rigorous, clear, and broadly applicable method for learning more about the world around us. I don't hate philosophers but I am not content to do things the way many of them seem to do. I can't imagine asking questions about the nature of the mind and consciousness without going out into the world and actually looking at all the minds that are there, for example.

But then again, I don't know many modern philosophers. I took a philosophy class in undergrad but I never learned how my professor spent his time professionally. Most of the "philosophers" I know are chatters on forums like this one, most of whom are not professional by most meanings of the word. Some are indubitably well read and well spoken; many others, less so. What I don't like is when people try to lecture me on how I don't appreciate/admire/respect philosophy enough, but do little to demonstrate how my spending more time and effort studying philosophy will benefit me in my scientific endeavors. Except perhaps as an exercise in critical thinking, but rigorous science already requires a lot of critical thinking. And to suggest otherwise feels kind of insulting.

For me, it really comes down to the fact that some things really interest me and some don't. If I'm going to spend time on things that do not interest me, there must be a good and purposeful reason for it. Generally I have no problem respecting philosophers so long as they do the courtesy of respecting me back.
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Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby Michael Lee on September 1st, 2013, 9:53 pm 

Are you saying you see no value in philosophy from your point of view? I can respect that.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Marshall on September 1st, 2013, 11:44 pm 

Hi Michael,
I have combined the two thread to make it easier to respond, since they are thematically similar.
Marshall
 


Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby ComplexityofChaos on September 2nd, 2013, 12:17 am 

Michael Lee wrote:Read the thread carefully. I wasn't the first to mention these so-called "celebrity scientists" - you did! And, to say one thing is smarter than another, you would need to have a criterion to judge the matter. And another to judge the first, and another to judge the second, and so on. So, no belief can ever be justified.

Let's bury the hatchet and I won't dare compare your ever so special Einstein to Aristotle because as you say, there is no means to judge the question.

And I never attacked the atheists.

"Bigotry is not a sign of intelligence." - oh please! Wrongly accusing one of being a bigot is lame; there's nothing wrong with atheism or agnosticism.

Fair enough.

Michael


If you think referring to all atheists as selfish is not bigoted, then you have no understanding of the term.

And when you write, "no belief can ever be justified," isn't that a self-refuting statement? Since the statement, if true, would mean that no one would be justified in believing that "no belief can ever be justified," then that would mean some beliefs can be justified. Self-refuting statements should be avoided.
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Re: Why do scientists "hate" philosophy.

Postby ComplexityofChaos on September 2nd, 2013, 12:38 am 

Paralith wrote:I consider myself a scientist. And I don't hate philosophy.

I understand that science is a branch of philosophy. It makes some basic assumptions about the universe and a good scientist ought to be aware of and understand them, and I believe I do. But there is a reason that I chose to specialize in this particular branch of philosophy as opposed to the others. My mind more readily bends to empiricism than it does to other modes of thought; I enjoy it more. It appeals to me as a rigorous, clear, and broadly applicable method for learning more about the world around us. I don't hate philosophers but I am not content to do things the way many of them seem to do. I can't imagine asking questions about the nature of the mind and consciousness without going out into the world and actually looking at all the minds that are there, for example.

But then again, I don't know many modern philosophers. I took a philosophy class in undergrad but I never learned how my professor spent his time professionally. Most of the "philosophers" I know are chatters on forums like this one, most of whom are not professional by most meanings of the word. Some are indubitably well read and well spoken; many others, less so. What I don't like is when people try to lecture me on how I don't appreciate/admire/respect philosophy enough, but do little to demonstrate how my spending more time and effort studying philosophy will benefit me in my scientific endeavors. Except perhaps as an exercise in critical thinking, but rigorous science already requires a lot of critical thinking. And to suggest otherwise feels kind of insulting.

For me, it really comes down to the fact that some things really interest me and some don't. If I'm going to spend time on things that do not interest me, there must be a good and purposeful reason for it. Generally I have no problem respecting philosophers so long as they do the courtesy of respecting me back.


I couldn't tell from your response if you were of the opinion that philosophy had to advance science, if philosophy was to have any worth? Scientists are the ones who should be advancing science, not philosophers, and sometimes scientists unfairly place this burden on philosophers. But, I do think when it comes to science, a large part of science does involve philosophy. I don't know how a scientist can interpret the meaning of empirical evidence without engaging in philosophy. I think a classic example of poor science is in the Libet experiments on free-will. The interpretation of the data by scientists who claimed that the data showed no free-will exists was just really shoddy thinking. And that is an understatement.
ComplexityofChaos
 


Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby ryan711 on September 2nd, 2013, 12:54 am 

I think the scientists of the past did not hate philosophy and are virtuous. I cannot say so for the modern scientists whose research is funded by multinational corporations or governments. There is no place for philosophy or virtues when you serve such masters.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Michael Lee on September 2nd, 2013, 12:55 am 

"If you think referring to all atheists as selfish is not bigoted, then you have no understanding of the term."

I understand the meaning of the word bigot perfectly Mr. Chaos, and how dare you accuse me of such a thing! I was referring to all religious "interest groups", theistic ones as well as atheistic and agnostic ones.

"And when you write, "no belief can ever be justified," isn't that a self-refuting statement? Since the statement, if true, would mean that no one would be justified in believing that "no belief can ever be justified," then that would mean some beliefs can be justified. Self-refuting statements should be avoided."

Well duh, how about "knowledge is impossible" , a dogmatic expression; that statement, if true, means "knowledge is possible" and thus "knowledge is impossible." This is circular reasoning, as outlined by Aristotle. They do indeed conflict with each other, but instead of claiming to have truth, we should suspend our judgement about what is really true from what is just true according to appearances.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Michael Lee on September 2nd, 2013, 7:52 pm 

Descartes tried hard to find something indubitable - an thing so true it cannot be denied. He thought of things true by definition, like two and two is four, but realized that there could be a very clever and cunning "demon" who can make him go wrong every time he adds two and two. This isn't "way out there"; a small child, for example, goes wrong all the time performing such mathematical operations and might believe two and two is five. Adults, might go wrong performing difficult calculus problems. I go wrong all the time doing arithmetic that a smart ten year old can do better than me four fold over.

And so even mathematics is subjective, along with all the other sciences that are based on empirical evidence. Because such evidence is derived ultimately through the sense impressions and they are unreliable. Peer review helps but it becomes a human political activity when that happens.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby owleye on September 2nd, 2013, 9:30 pm 

I would disagree that science is a branch of philosophy and would generally argue that having philosophy placed within the humanities department is a good place for it. The arts and sciences have their own departments. However, neither of these departments actually need much in the way of philosophy in order to teach it. Law and Medicine have their own schools, where I would expect a large dosage of philosophic insight is important. However, getting back to the arts and sciences, yes, they should be clear thinkers, something that philosophy takes as part of its curriculum, and it is wise that scientists and artists have some philosophy background, just as it is important to be good readers and writers. However, and especially with science, there's so much to learn that philosophic insight only comes into play at the leading edge of these disciplines, when one is actually questioning one's own theories.

I'm not terribly interested in the topic as it is stated, since I've addressed it too many times to have to recount it once again, so I'm limiting my response for this post merely in pointing out that there is a sufficient difference between the disciplines to make an important distinction between them, each with their own "virtue."

James.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Paralith on September 2nd, 2013, 10:20 pm 

I purposefully responded in the "hate" philosophy thread and not in the virtue in science thread, because the virtue in science thread included statements like this:

Michael Lee wrote:I went too far to say scientists are not a part of humanity; but I doubt they really care about the consequences to humanity as a result of their unwavering curiosity.


And as a scientist, this just hurts. Honestly. You're telling me that I and every one of my fellow scientists, many of whom I respect and admire and not a few of whom I consider my close friends, don't care about humanity. You're saying we cannot be virtuous. And I don't know if I want to be part of a discussion that assumes a priori I am incapable of caring about the consequences of my actions on my fellow humans.

I would like, however, to clarify my position on the value of philosophy, so I will at least do that.

I don't think it's philosophy's job to advance science. And as long as careful and critical thought and reasoning is valuable than so will philosophy be, and indeed that means I'm more or less using philosophy most of the time I'm doing science (including, Complexity, in the careful assessment of empirical evidence and what it does and does not mean). But I do think that careful and critical assessment of any topic ought to include the existing empirical/scientific knowledge on that topic. I do think that a good philosopher ought to at least be aware of the scientific evidence that is relevant to their particular focus of study. And since I don't know many professional philosophers, I can't say if they do or do not do this. But I imagine that many do.

What I don't find personally valuable is the extensive reading and study of philosophers and philosophical topics that don't much help me in my life or my work. Do I use careful and critical thought and reasoning? Yes, all the time. Are there certain philosophical issues that are more relevant to my life and work than others? Yes, and I do think and read on those topics when I can. Do I think I ought to be reading all of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Descartes, etc? No, I don't see that as a beneficial use of my time. Do I think I ought to be consulting professional philosophers throughout my scientific work? No, because I believe I and my fellow scientists possess the necessary reasoning skills in addition to a shared knowledge base of the topic.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Fuqin on September 3rd, 2013, 5:48 am 

para :-
And as a scientist, this just hurts. Honestly. You're telling me that I and every one of my fellow scientists, many of whom I respect and admire and not a few of whom I consider my close friends, don't care about humanity. You're saying we cannot be virtuous. And I don't know if I want to be part of a discussion that assumes a priori I am incapable of caring about the consequences of my actions on my fellow humans.

yeah I think that what i was getting at ,scientists are humans and all humans come under each others cultural influence , philosophy ,ethics ,laws the works , something I see in this is there seems to be a lot of us VS them thing in discussions of philosophy / science , when really one might say philosophy VS mechanics or carpentry or anything , its the same mistake as science verses religion , as if to say you cant be catholic and a scientist , or that science proves that religion is unnecessary. or even better the assumption that all scientist are atheists, I think this forum has adequately shown all of these misconceptions wrong time and time again , anyhow fu's 2 cents
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby mtbturtle on September 3rd, 2013, 9:15 am 

For those of you who hold there are virtues in science what are some of them? the most important? Is it possible to do science without them?

For those who hold there are no virtues in science, should there be? and if so, what ones are they missing?
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Michael Lee on September 3rd, 2013, 10:10 am 

As I said, I went too far... I made a mistake.
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby owleye on September 3rd, 2013, 10:57 am 

Michael Lee wrote:As I said, I went too far... I made a mistake.


The issue is an important one and it won't be the last time you will be confronted with it. You would do well to think about what science is and what makes it successful. You may notice, if you hadn't already, that science in a general sense is unified. There aren't really different schools of science, at least insofar as there comes to be accepted science. Yes, at the leading edge there are theorists of many stripes, each with their ideas, ideas focussed on explaining or at least describing and predicting what is revealed in the observable universe. However, tolerance is not shown to theorists who have no background in accepted science.

Philosophy as well has many of these same characteristics, but its main difference, which sets it apart, is that it isn't focussed on achieving the unified acceptance that scientists have respecting the need to explain, describe, predict and measure the observable universe. They (despite the heated discussions at their conferences) generally tolerate diversity. Their focus is on the better arguments, not so much being judged by evidence. As a result of this general openness to ideas, they may altogether too often tread into the waters of those disciplines who see such ideas as not respectful of the advances already well known to those disciplines. From that standpoint, in order to properly wade into these waters philosophers must be in a position to understand as much of the science, art, jurisprudence, or what have you that the more specialized disciplines have come to understand as their own. Philosophy needs to take these disciplines as givens. However, this doesn't mean that their work is totally harnessed by that restriction. Philosophers don't have the same objective. Their objective is merely to get clear about things they care about.

James
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Michael Lee on September 4th, 2013, 11:00 pm 

Paralith, you wrote, "You're telling me that I and every one of my fellow scientists, many of whom I respect and admire and not a few of whom I consider my close friends, don't care about humanity. You're saying we cannot be virtuous. And I don't know if I want to be part of a discussion that assumes a priori I am incapable of caring about the consequences of my actions on my fellow humans.

Of course, I never once used the expression "ALL scientists are such and such".
I never said scientists can't be virtuous, you liar, - whatever virtue or goodness is?
But there is such a thing as a terrible scientist, like Richard Dawkins.
Michael Lee
 


Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Marshall on September 4th, 2013, 11:45 pm 

Michael Lee wrote:I never said scientists can't be virtuous, you liar,...


Apology to Paralith was called for, instead there was continued abuse. M.L. has been trolling. Made a number of hateful/disdainful statements that read as GENERAL blanket condemnation of an entire category of people. There was no indication that the statements applied only to some individuals and not to others.
As general statements the claims appeared to be groundless, and as far as I can see, false. In any case M.L. did not offer links to circumstantial evidence, supporting studies, statistics etc. Unbalanced, opinionated vituperation not up to normal philosophy forum standards. Extreme rudeness to Paralith who made a real effort to communicate, I thought.
Main thing, though: indiscriminate smearing of a whole category of people, whether professional, racial, ethnic, is not tolerated.
Marshall
 


Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby appreciative on September 5th, 2013, 9:03 pm 

no scientist worth his/her salt hates philosophy. Scientists were known as Natural Philosophers and Newton is one excellent example of a polymath whose work spanned both fields. You cannot be a scientist without being a philosopher and visa versa. Scientists that moan about philosophy are inadequate and it's sad that it is trendy to do so
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby appreciative on September 5th, 2013, 9:07 pm 

and of course there is virtue in science, is there not virtue in saving a life? is there not virtue in making someone's life happier or easier with technology? By my mind, to say there is no virtue in science would be tantamount to nihilism, if there is no point in learning, exploring, testing and benefiting ourselves then in what is there a point?
appreciative
 


Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Russky on September 15th, 2013, 8:11 pm 

Hi Lomax:

Lomax wrote:Look at how many philosophers, for example, try telling scientists that relativity must be mistaken because they know "for philosophical reasons" that time is an absolute, or that the naive understanding of the big bang theory must be wrong because "something cannot come from nothing" (sayeth who? And on what bloody grounds?). To me all of this is no less arrogant than creationists (many of whom, you may notice, consider themselves philosophers) telling scientists that they must be wrong about the age of the earth.


Couldn't the law of conservation of energy be seen to carry the philosophical assumption of "something cannot come from nothing"?
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Re: Is there virtue in science? and scientists "hate" philos

Postby Marshall on September 16th, 2013, 2:54 am 

Russky wrote:Hi Lomax:

Lomax wrote:Look at how many philosophers, for example, try telling scientists that relativity must be mistaken because they know "for philosophical reasons" that time is an absolute, or that the naive understanding of the big bang theory must be wrong because "something cannot come from nothing" (sayeth who? And on what bloody grounds?). To me all of this is no less arrogant than creationists (many of whom, you may notice, consider themselves philosophers) telling scientists that they must be wrong about the age of the earth.


Couldn't the law of conservation of energy be seen to carry the philosophical assumption of "something cannot come from nothing"?


google "energy not conserved in expanding universe"
this gets the easiest explanation, a wide audience essay by cosmologist Sean Carroll

But it well known and there are many discussions, John Baez has another in his physics FAQ.

The "law" of energy cons. is only approximate and only applicable in special circumstances.
Fortunately we usually have such circumstances at least approximately, when we do physics problems, so we can invoke this "law". But it is not true in general as far as we know---ONE PROBLEM IS SIMPLY TO DEFINE global all inclusive "ENERGY" of an expanding universe.
Marshall
 


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