Philosophy and Science

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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on January 7th, 2017, 11:37 am 

The other ball that always gets dropped is Instrumentalism. (For better or worse,) I am the resident Instrumentalist on this forum. I would hope to communicate that Instrumentalism is not new, and can be seen implicitly in the writings of Auguste Comte in the 1830s. I love science and I have had intimate personal exposure to it academically. But as an Instrumentalist, I have very little faith in the power of science to answer The Grandiose Philosophical Questions of Existence. 



I've been an Instrumentalist ( more of the pragmatic and induction-loving John Dewey variety than the Popperian variety ) most of my life, so much so that it didn't much occur to me to defend it or study rival views. I share your lack of confidence in science to answer many of the Big Questions. Most of my insights, of a feeble and fleeting sort, on the BQs have come from a meditative frame of mind rather than from scientific empiricism. What science has done, however, is define better the boundaries of knowledge as they impact metaphysics and so on....without saying what is ultimately real, science can say what is more likely to be illusory and unreal. It exposes physical and neurological limits in knowledge, which is no small contribution to the handling of BQs.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on January 7th, 2017, 1:27 pm 

hyksos » Sat Jan 07, 2017 6:16 am wrote:
The other ball that always gets dropped is Instrumentalism. (For better or worse,) I am the resident Instrumentalist on this forum. I would hope to communicate that Instrumentalism is not new, and can be seen implicitly in the writings of Auguste Comte in the 1830s. I love science and I have had intimate personal exposure to it academically. But as an Instrumentalist, I have very little faith in the power of science to answer The Grandiose Philosophical Questions of Existence.



I have read that some (maybe most) Instrumentalists do think that it is sensible to talk about causation in science. It seems like one could imagine an Instrumentalist view of science without including the notion of causation. What is an Instrumentalist argument for including causation in the process of doing science?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 7th, 2017, 4:38 pm 

An instrumentalist theory would allow for causation, particularly in cases involving pathological findings with medicine and illness. So you could still have a theory that says,

Sodium cyclamate is known to cause cancer in laboratory mice.


Those kinds of biological "causes" are often vague enough to avoid a commitment to an actual mechanical process at the cellular level.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on January 8th, 2017, 10:26 am 

hyksos » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:38 pm wrote:An instrumentalist theory would allow for causation, particularly in cases involving pathological findings with medicine and illness. So you could still have a theory that says,

Sodium cyclamate is known to cause cancer in laboratory mice.


Those kinds of biological "causes" are often vague enough to avoid a commitment to an actual mechanical process at the cellular level.


From the perspective of science as a tool for solving practical problems, wouldn't it be just as meaningful to say that there is a constant correlation between the presence of sodium cyclamate and cancer in laboratory mice? Does the concept of cause and effect allow the solving of practical problems that cannot be equally solved by just referring to constant correlations rather than cause and effect?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on January 8th, 2017, 10:47 am 

BadgerJelly » January 6th, 2017, 5:30 am wrote:
It was interesting to watch the vid dandelion put up. When they say "science" has come to mean a kind of "truth". You here this everyday as a way to varify decisions. "It's science!" People say. What I mean here is we express the success of science and translate this success as a "truth" in day to day conversation. I should be very clear I am talking about colloquial use of language within the general public. Very often science in courts is made to fit the case and used to politically alter opinion. People play on the false representations of science as an unquestionable body of evidence, where in reality the science is doing anything but settle on one conclusive answer or one conclusive way of interpreting the data gathered.

Badger, thanks, this is from the interview in the thread linked,
‘Horgan: Can science attain absolute truth?

Rovelli: I have no idea what “absolute truth” means. I think that science is the attitude of those who find funny the people saying they know something is absolute truth. Science is the awareness that our knowledge is constantly uncertain. What I know is that there are plenty of things that science does not understand yet. And science is the best tool found so far for reaching reasonably reliable knowledge.’

Or from another interview, “Scientific ideas are credible not because they are sure, but because they are the ones that have survived all the possible past critiques, and they are the most credible because they were put on the table for everybody's criticism.”
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on January 8th, 2017, 11:07 am 

Hyksos,

If relevant, the differences may be cultural but I’ve never watched the people listed, just some parodies I think.

I thought I may have offered an opportunity for expounding on the balls you’d prefer kept in the air and your views of doing science with the inquiry about your exemplar's, Higgs’, advance. Say, in which part or parts in your view does “doing science” or Higgs’ advance lie, somewhere after questioning given research and offering an alternative, the rejected paper, the later accepted one, according to Higgs, in looking in the wrong place for application, with input from others like Weinberg, with the discovery of 2012, …?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on January 10th, 2017, 8:53 am 

Rather than Bill Nye, etc., my early introduction to science was more programmes like, e.g., the broadcaster and naturalist, Attenborough’s-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38297025

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mI7f3xVgZdA
(philosophical views)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 10th, 2017, 7:55 pm 

From the perspective of science as a tool for solving practical problems, wouldn't it be just as meaningful to say that there is a constant correlation between the presence of sodium cyclamate and cancer in laboratory mice?


The answer is no. We have way more than a mere statistical correlation. In lab science you have a control group kept under the same conditions. Or if you really want to drive the argument, you have 18 control groups and 6 mouse environments with the cyclamate. I would say you have confused science with journalism.

Does the concept of cause and effect allow the solving of practical problems that cannot be equally solved by just referring to constant correlations rather than cause and effect?

The solving of "practical problems" might involve Church going or community basketball... both outside of my realm of expertise.

An instrumentalist knows that at the stage of science in which numbers are being "written on paper" he has nothing (At that stage) other than correlations. That is not somehow washed away by ideology. The elevation of a theory from petty correlation to Strong Causation comes with more tedium. Usually control groups, and often the ability of far-away labs to reproduce the same result.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 10th, 2017, 8:26 pm 

hyksos wrote:From the perspective of science as a tool for solving practical problems, wouldn't it be just as meaningful to say that there is a constant correlation between the presence of sodium cyclamate and cancer in laboratory mice?

The answer is no. We have way more than a mere statistical correlation. In lab science you have a control group kept under the same conditions. Or if you really want to drive the argument, you have 18 control groups and 6 mouse environments with the cyclamate. I would say you have confused science with journalism.

Does the concept of cause and effect allow the solving of practical problems that cannot be equally solved by just referring to constant correlations rather than cause and effect?
The solving of "practical problems" might involve Church going or community basketball... both outside of my realm of expertise.

An instrumentalist knows that at the stage of science in which numbers are being "written on paper" he has nothing (At that stage) other than correlations. That is not somehow washed away by ideology. The elevation of a theory from petty correlation to Strong Causation comes with more tedium. Usually control groups, and often the ability of far-away labs to reproduce the same result.


Of course, I would say that that is old news. Gathering more data that the earth orbits around the sun isn't really cutting edge science anymore. I would say the science now would be deterining precisely what sodium cyclamate does at the cellular or genetic level to result in cancer.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby BadgerJelly on January 11th, 2017, 12:59 am 

Forest -

Science determines nothing. The scientists poses a theory and then poses a way to test the theory.

I like to think of it from the.perspective of the sodium cyclamate. It has no concern about causing or not causing cancer in mice.

Dandelin is confusing science with scientists. Or measuring stuff with thinking about how things relate beyond an abstract string of numbers, what those numbers mean in themselves, what questions are appropriately framed and such. But now it sounds more like what people call "philosophy".

To get back to the question in the OP it is clear enough to me to distinguish "science" from "philosophy" (as they are today) as differences in measuring.

So I ask the question without the ability to accurately measure things is science different from philosophy in any way? For me they are both part of the development of logical theory, they are both theoretical fields and the "science" end of theory is what it is because of measurements.

It appears both extremes would accuse each other of either disregard for the humanist view of data or disregard toward the data in favour of the humanist view.

This is the great boon of the proposition of science. It has, in its method, a rigid disregard for interpretation. It merely churns out the response from nature and measures it as best and precisely as it can. The human attitude then presented with such data is open to make rational associatons dictated by their own personal research and to give or take validity.

In this sense to the scientist what is real is what is measured not what is experienced. What is experienced is a speculation understood loosely under the guise of scinetific knowledge that has us surrounded by the real and reveals many things in natural human experience to be viewed as unreal. The appearance for the scientist is nothing other than a "mere appearing to be so". Only when the experience is brought into a field of accurate measurement it the scientific atritude ready to lay claim to the idea of "real".

So science and philosophy are siblings of reason. Other items of human interest can be looked at with an rational eye and considered "as if" they were rational interests. Art though, depending on how you view this, is not a rational theoretical activity even though we try to apply such an idea practically and call it critic ... we then find we are beginning to move in philosophical spheres of thought and science may also be loosely applied too.

It is the cross-over of such natural thought that clouds and diversifies distinctions. Science has the biggest influence over us because it can literally measure the difference and where it cannot rational thought it mostly absent.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby hyksos on January 11th, 2017, 2:44 am 

The more that I look at things, I cannot get rid of the feeling that Existence is quite weird. You see a philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel, who gawks at things that sensible people take for granted. For "sensible people" Existence is nothing at all, is just basic so lets go on and do something. See this is the current movement in philosophy. Logical analysis says, "You must not think about Existence. It is a meaningless concept." Therefore philosophy has become the discussion of trivia. No "good" philosopher lies awake at night worrying about the destiny of Man , the nature of God, and all that sort of thing. Because a "philosopher" today is a practical fellow who comes to the university with a briefcase at 9 and leaves at 5. He "does philosophy" during the day -- which is -- discussing whether certain sentence have meaning and if so, what. And he would (as Willam Earl said in a very funny essay) -- he would come to work in a white coat, if he thought he could get away with it.

The problem is he's lost his sense of wonder. Wonder is like (in modern philosophy) something you must not have. It's like enthusiasm in 18th-century England, in a very bad form. But you see, I don't know what question to ask when I wonder about the universe. It isn't the question that I'm wondering about, it's a feeling that I have. Because I cannot formulate the question that is my Wonder. The moment my mouth opens to utter it, I suddenly find I'm talking nonsense. But that should not prevent Wonder from being the foundation of Philosophy.

So there is obviously a place in life for a religious attitude in the sense of awe. Astonishment at existence


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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on January 11th, 2017, 9:48 am 

BadgerJelly wrote:Science determines nothing. The scientists poses a theory and then poses a way to test the theory.


I would be cautious here. It seems to me that exploring the causes of things is actually pretty close to (one of) the philosophical heart(s) of science. For example, change/evolution over time was noted long before the 19th century (granted there is room for cautious debate here) but it was in the proposal of a method or cause that set apart the ideas that became NDT. Similarly, in medical science, we know that disease (and death) was known about as far back as we have evidence of sentience but it was in the exploration and recognition of mechanical causes of diseases (e.g., bacterial or fungal infections, etc.) that we find the scientific progress. So, most of us probably would not say that sodium cyclamate acts as some kind supernatural agent that causes a mysterious uncontrolled growth, etc., and call that science. Instead, we would offer something like an alternate hypothesis, that sodium cyclamate, when exposed to a cell, chemically causes X to happen and that results in a mutation, etc., in the nucleaic or mitochondrial DNA, etc. by such and such a chemical reaction or whatever. Finding correlations between things may well be cutting edge science at an early stage in scientific research but after some point in time I would say that the science moves on and simply stacking up correlations stops beng science and may even become a block to progress.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on January 11th, 2017, 12:15 pm 

hyksos » Tue Jan 10, 2017 4:55 pm wrote:
From the perspective of science as a tool for solving practical problems, wouldn't it be just as meaningful to say that there is a constant correlation between the presence of sodium cyclamate and cancer in laboratory mice?


The answer is no. We have way more than a mere statistical correlation. In lab science you have a control group kept under the same conditions. Or if you really want to drive the argument, you have 18 control groups and 6 mouse environments with the cyclamate. I would say you have confused science with journalism.
Does the concept of cause and effect allow the solving of practical problems that cannot be equally solved by just referring to constant correlations rather than cause and effect?

The solving of "practical problems" might involve Church going or community basketball... both outside of my realm of expertise.

An instrumentalist knows that at the stage of science in which numbers are being "written on paper" he has nothing (At that stage) other than correlations. That is not somehow washed away by ideology. The elevation of a theory from petty correlation to Strong Causation comes with more tedium. Usually control groups, and often the ability of far-away labs to reproduce the same result.


I didn't say that there aren't other means to solve practical problems but that the view of instrumentalism in science is that science is not about trying to find out what physical reality is but instead science is a tool used to address certain kinds of practical problems. How would you characterize scientific instrumentalism?

I get that "correlation does not (necessarily) imply causation" and that much diligent work must be done in many cases to establish what are spurious correlations rather than what are said to be causes. How do scientists go about separating spurious correlations from causes? They change the variables until there is, as much as they can determine, only one variable that consistently precedes the targeted type of event. For example:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/ ... hy-science

The most reliable causal knowledge comes not from passive observations, but from controlled experimentation. In the medical sciences, the experiments often take the form of randomized clinical trials. Consider the claim that a particular drug causes lowered blood pressure. How might one test this claim? One possibility would be to make the drug available on the open market and observe hypertension patients who choose to take the drug and those who do not. There is a problem with this methodology. Suppose that the drug is expensive; one might expect that patients who buy the drug will be wealthier on average then those who do not. Wealthier patients might enjoy any number of other benefits—such as access to better healthcare generally, better diets, and so on—that influence whether or not they experience a reduction in hypertension. If one finds that patients who take the drug do in fact experience greater reduction in blood pressure levels than those who do not, it can still not be known whether this reduction is due to the drug or due to one of the other advantages associated with wealth. In a randomized trial, it is determined randomly which patients will receive the drug and which will be given a placebo instead. Randomization helps to ensure that treatment is not correlated with any other causes that might influence recovery.


Notice, though that what is being done is establishing that only one correlation is constant through all the changes in variables. That one constant correlation through changes in variables is what is then called a cause and effect relationship.

When I said "constant correlation" what I meant is a correlation that persists through all changes in variables. I did not mean to imply that spurious correlations are constant correlations. I probably should have clarified that. The notion of causation goes beyond merely positing a constant correlation that persists through changes in variables. The notion of causation contains the concept of "producing a change". It's not just that two types of events are constantly correlated and that persists through changes in variables but that one type of event produces another type of event.

To me the term "instrumentalism" when applied to science implies that science is only a tool to be used to achieve some goal (not give us a description of objective reality). I have taken it that the goal is to solve certain kinds of practical problems (like finding a medicine to alleviate symptoms of a particular disease). Given that understanding of what scientific instrumentalism is about, I don't see where there is practical benefit to saying one type of event "produces" another type of event over simply saying that there is a constant correlation the persists through changes in variables. Either way, it works - take the medicine and the symptoms are alleviated (given the right conditions).

Now if you have a different take on what scientific instrumentalism is about, then that may imply something different.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby TLK on January 12th, 2017, 11:21 am 

On further reading and reflection I can see that my notion that scientific instrumentalism is about solving practical problems takes an unnecessary step in stating the purpose of science in a instrumentalist perspective. It is probably better to say that scientific instrumentalists think of science as a tool for making accurate predictions about certain kinds of events we observe. That is probably a better accounting of scientific instrumentalism than saying it is about trying to solve practical problems. I think it is probably the case that most of the time scientists are using science as a tool to solve practical problems (if for no other reason than it's a lot easier to get funding much of the time if you are investigating a solution to a practical problem), but I can see that instrumentalism doesn't necessarily imply that the pursuit of science must be about solving practical problems.

That doesn't change the main thrust of what I'm saying, though. When it is said that through the process of experimentation that we have established a very likely cause and effect relationship that we can use to predict future events, if we strip away the notion of something producing a change in something else, then we are still left with a correlation that we can use to reliably predict future events. IOW, in terms of the instrumentalist view of science as a tool for making better predictions, the crucial thing is using a process that identifies a correlation that does make such predictions. The notion of one thing producing another thing does not improve the accuracy of the ability of the correlation to make predictions. For purposes of making accurate predictions the crucial thing is finding the correlations that make such predictions, not assigning cause and effect relationships to the correlations.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby dandelion on February 5th, 2017, 10:27 am 

BadgerJelly » January 11th, 2017, 5:59 am wrote:

..Dandelin is confusing science with scientists. Or measuring stuff with thinking about how things relate beyond an abstract string of numbers, what those numbers mean in themselves, what questions are appropriately framed and such. But now it sounds more like what people call "philosophy"...


Returning to this, Badger, sorry if that was confusing, there was discussion in the thread highlighting differences between areas of sciences and humanities in modern history, extending beyond tertiary education and into civilisation, and thought quick counters might include instances of individuals versed in more than one field. This could include individuals I’ve mentioned in the thread, such as both famed philosophers, Husserl and Putnam, who also studied maths, as well as the video link which talks of the authors of great scientific advance also well versed in philosophy. Just also from my posts are more individuals, such as Whewell as both polymath and philosopher, Darwin who studied theology, and Rovelli, as discussed in the linked thread has credentials in science and philosophy, an author and to take a quote from a review from the recently launched Institute of Cross-Disciplinary Engagement, a physicist-poet http://www.npr.org/sections/13.7/2017/0 ... we-can-see . (Another mentioned person was Coleridge, of more philosophical and poetic or artistic fields). Emphasised division may encourage possible dismissal of critique rather than assist possible mutual benefit from interactive critique.

Perhaps, instead of a notion of a clear distinction between sciences and humanities, these might be better considered as closer, as areas of inquiry, differing from fields that don’t involve questions so much, like some religion. I think the confusion referred to could have also been my instancing of individuals in fields described. I saw individuals suggesting differences from science in Rovelli’s discussion, in scientist and communicator, Attenborough, and have seen this in another individual scientist first mentioned in the thread by others, Higgs (A Guardian article paraphrasing translation of a Spanish article in which Higgs speaks of differences between science and dogma http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/12/2 ... 11441.html . I think that accounts for all the famous people I’ve mentioned). Such sorts of differences from dogma may emphasise similarities in fields of inquiry.

And regarding variation within areas of questioning, historically, encyclopaedic lists of fields of inquiry have included such fields as maths, sciences, theology, philosophy, etc.. In considering variation within these fields, (I like that you made a new thread considering this, I've thought about it but hadn't posted in it yet), but think rather than just possibly compounding some more recent, more divisive notions, it might be helpful to reappraise this more fully, possibly including alternatives such as revisiting further back into ancient historical notions, like Greek and Roman. For a start, a brief wiki account about liberal arts, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_arts_education , here, has an earlier notion of curricula, or course, ‘Rooted in the basic curriculum’ the enkyklios paideia, encyclopaedia, ‘or "education in a circle"’’, such notions may have differing areas blurring and complementing each other, this possibly permeating various levels of complexity, without clear separation. Eco also wrote of the age this notion was at a prime. From the section entitled “Modern usage”, “Some subsections of the liberal arts are in the trivium—the verbal arts: grammar, logic, and rhetoric; and in the quadrivium—the numerical arts: arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy. Analysing and interpreting information is also included.” A recent example of such interdiscipline given is, “In 2012, University College London began its interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences BASc degree (which has kinship with the liberal arts model) with 80 students.”

(I find this paragraph hard to write because it is repetitive, but the repetition is sort of reflective or recursive). Questioning and unravelling such fields and accomodating possibly more cohesive, correlated reinterpretations of such fields might also illuminate some notions of scientific methodology. A thorough example of methodology, which could be in keeping with notions of revisiting fields of inquiry, might involve, (borrowing a lot from notions linked)- processes of questioning, more than just questioning or testing empirical data, more testing theories, and possibly interpreting or observing correlational possibilities in such ways as better cohering with more interpretations or observations of possibilities. Networks of theories all interpreted in ways strongly cohering internally, as well as externally with each other, may also strongly cohere better also with ontic physical causation, as generally may be the case, or there may be other options, but questioning and possible interpretations may be involved with simpler through to more complex parts. (An alternative rough, superficial example of this thorough coherence applied to a different methodological stance might be something like applying it to a certain stance that all theories from the start must be predictively testable, which to cohere with cohesion, could give something like the notion that such a view of methodology itself must certainly from the start also be predictively testable for all theories.) https://www.edge.org/conversation/carlo ... of-physics
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby nicolle38 on February 9th, 2017, 3:00 pm 

Philosophers can take the time to look at the results of busy scientific experimentation and discuss the merits. Since the Manhattan Project and the subsequent development of nuclear energy, philosophers have not done enough to explain to scientists the "big picture" that could result from their experimentation. Scientists have narrow focuses and that helps them get good results. Philosophers, who provide the sober second thoughts, should be the brakes on scientific enthusiasm. To my mind, philosophers have failed. Science has developed technology to the point where a misguided individual human will soon have the power to end humanity. A timely, well-placed personal nuke can result in a nuclear winter. Soon, one insane human will have the power to destroy us all and philosophers know this. Scientists don't spend enough time thinking along these lines. C'mon philosophers, do your job or our children will be living in caves again.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on February 13th, 2017, 10:11 am 

Recently I had a discussion with a friend on the topic of Jack Horrner (so I was told) having experiments done of chicken DNA in order to recreate a dinosaur and one question raised was how we would know if the results would be an accurate reflection of dinosaur DNA. After giving it some thought I came to the conclusion that it would depend on what the metric for accuracy would be and to what extent it would be a hermeneutic i.e., with "truth" not really fixed but shifting as we learned more and more than one scientific truth probable.

First of all, a big start to the process would obviously be simply (?) reconstructing the DNA of the last common ancestor based on the existing DNA of the closest living relatives today and assuming commonalities are not the product of seperate independent mutations (I want to avoid some of the complex terminology like plesiomorphies and apomorphies, etc. Some of the issues in cladistics are worth researching if you want more detail.) The next step would be simply (?) messing with all the other stuff and seeing what happens. Obviously the latter part (i.e., experimentation) is important because we can only go so far with surviving DNA and even the mosquitoes in amber from "Jurrasic Park" needed some boosting. The bottom line here is that we need some kind of metric outside the wet lab to help us figure out how close we might be able to get to "true" ancestral DNA because, barring a time machine, we may never get an exact T-rex genome.

Obviously, IMHO, the best metric for say, T-rex DNA reconstructed from a chicken's will be based on the known surviving fossil record. Of course we know that is also incomplete but hypothetically we could still do things like hatch and grow a new T-rex and complare the bones, foot prints, etc., of the new beast and compare them to the fossil evidence, as best we have it and then tinker with the DNA some more to calibrate. No doubt that will also change what we look at in the fossil bones, etc., and lead us to ask entirely new questions with the old remains as well as collect new samples in new ways to answer some of the questions that are sure to pop up. Of course we would have to rethink the questions of which T-rex we are trying to recreate because aside from variation due to age, gender and life history (i.e., specific stresses the bones responded to from habitually walking in mud vs. rocky hills, etc., various trauma encountered killing brontos vs. triceratops, etc.), there is always variation within any one population and variation over time. The last is a key as well because when you get down to it, we probably shouldn't expect T-rex to be a fixed or static thing over hundreds of thousands or millions of years but most of us probably do.

All that is fine and we might even be tempted to stop there but it is not complete. I for one would like to see one moving around in a zoo for any number of reasons but I know I would have to accept a different metric of truth here. Bottim line, this metric of truth would need to take into account functionality in the face of modern practicalities. By way of example, one of those is practicalities includes a measure of faith that the big thing stalking about (behind a very secure fence) does indeed represent a close approximation to the fossil remains but without being exact in many ways. Would it matter to anyone whether the digestive enzymes needed to consume modern goats were different from those necessary to digest rotting bronto meat? I would probably be happy to see if our modern T-rex exhibited some mating rituals or dances but couldn't expect a faithful reproduction of past mating dances because some of that must have been learned and how would our modern one learn a dance that has been gone for tens of millions of years?

This does bring us back to the fossil record to some degree, of course, because we might still wonder just how close our modern remade T-rex really is to past critters. There must have been lots of subtle differences such as slight differences in the atmospheric conditions, weather patterns, soil characteristics that influenced plants, the animals that fed off them, etc. Biting insects appear to have existed and who knows how old T-rex dealt with them. Did they roll in mud for relief or were their feathers useful to whisk bugs away? Would we need to try to recreate all the potential bugs, parasites, Cretaceous diseases, etc. (inside a bubble I presume becaue I am not so sure I would want to deal with mosquitoes capable of biting through dinosaur skin let alone some bronto or T-rex virus that may have been around).

There are and will be multiple scientific "truths" based on tinkering with the DNA, reconstructing the fossil record and seeing what lumbers around in front of us and as we adjust each truth against the other metrics of course we will be almost constantly shifting our directions towards the steadily improving truth but we will never get an absolute truth because, simply we don't even have that for todays world and never will because as fast as we close in on today's world we find that it too is different. Today's world is already different from yesterday's. So ultimately it is a philosophical question of which truth is good enough and for what reasons?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Braininvat on February 13th, 2017, 12:32 pm 

At some point in your post, I had to wonder if a philosopher might step in and question the ethics of creating a creature that had to be imprisoned, might suffer digestive upsets on a constant basis from modern protein sources, and would be killed if its curiosity and resourcefulness (which have not been precisely determined, for obvious reasons) got it over the fence and at large.

So my point is that philosophy not only looks at the degree of truth obtainable from such a scientific experiment, but also ethical considerations that may be pertinent. There are also cost considerations that have ethical aspects, as well. Would the funds sufficient to breed and contain a clever T-Rex (which I assume would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars) be better spent curing disease, saving ecosystems, and so on? I usually argue the other side, that science just for the glory of knowledge has intrinsic value. But this proposal seems to have a lot of potential cruelties inherent.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on February 13th, 2017, 1:50 pm 

Braininvat wrote:At some point in your post, I had to wonder if a philosopher might step in and question the ethics of creating a creature that had to be imprisoned, might suffer digestive upsets on a constant basis from modern protein sources, and would be killed if its curiosity and resourcefulness (which have not been precisely determined, for obvious reasons) got it over the fence and at large.

So my point is that philosophy not only looks at the degree of truth obtainable from such a scientific experiment, but also ethical considerations that may be pertinent. There are also cost considerations that have ethical aspects, as well. Would the funds sufficient to breed and contain a clever T-Rex (which I assume would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars) be better spent curing disease, saving ecosystems, and so on? I usually argue the other side, that science just for the glory of knowledge has intrinsic value. But this proposal seems to have a lot of potential cruelties inherent


I have no doubt that there would be arguments from philosophers and animal rights advocates. But people have cloned sheep and will continue to experiment along these lines and of course continue to experiment with animals for all kinds of reasons. We may have banned the use of chimps, for example, but I have absolutely no doubt that is someone wants to do so they will somewhere in the world. There are ethical agreements not to experiment with humans and the human genome but since we know drug companies use humans for "clinical trials" and that some will kill and torture people for any number of spurious reasons, I have no doubt that someone will experiment with the human genome somewhere so why not recreate an Australopithecine if they chose?
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on February 13th, 2017, 1:58 pm 

By the way, just Google chickenosaurus.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby Forest_Dump on February 20th, 2017, 9:23 pm 

I had vowed to try to pick up a book by Dennett even though I am not a fan of his religious extremism and this past week I did - 2013's "Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking". Looks good so far but almost the first paragraph is one I thought fits well in this thread:

"There is no such thing as philosophy-free science, just science that has been conducted without any consideration of its underlying philosophical assumptions." (20)
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby skakos on July 4th, 2017, 7:32 am 

Science is based on philosophy. Every axiom you select in order to start building a theory is based on at least one philosophical dogma. Choosing those axioms wisely is a kind of art. Modern science on the other hand has lost its way and is more "data analysis" than science in the true meaning of the word...
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby thinker4life on July 4th, 2017, 4:02 pm 

I have been pondering this for a long while. I would love to hear some thoughts on it. What is the relationship between philosophy and science in these modern times? How do they connect? I can't put a finger on anything. Can someone help? Thank you.


I recently posted my theory on how science is compatible with theoretical philosophy, spirituality, and religion if only one asks questions that science answers well to science and other questions to one of the other three. I hope its a well thought out answer, and would love to hear whether it satiates your curiosity on the subject and perhaps even gives you what you feel is a definitive answer. It does for me.

viewtopic.php?f=46&t=29511&start=0

One caveat, you used the term philosophy, I used the term theoretical philosophy. I use the term theoretical philosophy for philosophy that is not provable or disprovable by science. There is also philosophy that's used to theorize about the world in provable ways, which I call scientific philosophy... These philosophical questions will eventually be answered by science as our scientific knowledge expands... If this distinction isn't clear let me know and I can add more to this, but I don't want to be pedantic.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby mitchellmckain on July 7th, 2017, 9:43 pm 

Superficially or in a very general sort of way I might be considered an instrumentalist. I do basically consider scientific theories to be instruments in the work of scientific inquiry. But my reasoning is quite a bit different from Dewey or Popper.

1. I reject the definition of knowledge as justified true belief because it is mostly hot air. Nobody believes things they think are either unjustified or untrue. Therefore such a definition is made for only one purpose -- to impose your own beliefs on other people with the presumption that yours are true and justified while those of others are not. My response to that is one word: Bullshit!

2. I therefore define knowledge as the end of a spectrum of belief from guess to mere opinion to that which you live your life according to. Thus knowledge is distinguished from the rest of the spectrum of belief by the fact that you live by it and thus you can say you use it as an instrument in living. I see this as the only tangible measure of certainty because the ability and habit of some people to blow a lot of hot air rhetoric in support of guesses and mere opinion is easily documented.

3. People often confuse the word theory in science with hypothesis, when it is nothing like the same thing. An hypothesis is a guess but a theory refers to breadth of application not any lack of certainty. We call something a theory because it creates the branch of a science called theoretical which is opposed to experimental which explains rather than simply observes.

4. I extend the definition of knowledge in 2 to science by claiming that theory becomes knowledge and fact when it becomes a routine tool or instrument for scientific inquiry. It basically mean that we have move on from testing the theory to building upon it. The doesn't mean it is no longer tested or that evidence is no longer accumulated for it. On the contrary, it means that all experimental tests using this instrument becomes such a means of testing and evidence for this theory as well.

So it very much looks like I may be an instrumentalist. But what about the four premises of instrumentalism mentioned in the Wikipedia article? I will take a look at those next.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby mitchellmckain on July 9th, 2017, 3:32 pm 

Wikipedia in Intrumentalism wrote:1) Theories are tools-of-the-trade of thinking, seeking to map means-ends relationships found in experience.

Dewey:
"Instrumentalism is an attempt to establish a precise logical theory of concepts, of judgments and inferences in their various forms, by considering primarily how thought functions in the experimental determinations of future consequences."[2]:14

Popper:
Instrumentalism endorses "the interpretation of scientific theories as practical instruments or tools for such purposes as the prediction of impending events."[3]:62–3

I guess I am largely with Popper on this one. Number one and Dewey's comment sound to me like they are talking about something very different than science.

Wikipedia in Intrumentalism wrote:2) Theories predict consequences of using means to achieve ends.

Dewey:
"The verification of a theory … is carried on by the observation of particular facts."[2]:11

Popper:
"… we submit [theories] to severe tests by trying to deduce from them some of the regularities of the known world of common experience."[3]:102

Both Dewey and Popper sound good to me on this, though I don't really understand the statement of number 2 itself even as a generalization of the meaning of "theories" in science. Theories provide a means to predict experimental observation and by this they are falsifiable, verifiable and testable.

Wikipedia in Intrumentalism wrote:3) Theory-development requires inductive reasoning, basing general statements on limited observations of facts-of-the-case.

Dewey:
An empirical philosopher must "… first find particular cases from which he then generalizes."[2]:11

Popper:
I am "… an opponent of the widely accepted dogma of inductivism—of the view that science starts from observation and proceeds, by induction, to generalizations, and ultimately to theories."[3]:154

I think Popper is right in rejecting number 3. Sometimes it may be that theories are arrived at by an inductive process but it is wrong to think this is always the case. Quite often they are derived deductively from previously established laws and theories.

Wikipedia in Intrumentalism wrote:4) There are no realities behind or beyond what can be known by applying instrumental theories.

Dewey:
"It is therefore in submitting conceptions to the control of experience … that one finds examples of what is called truth."[2]:11

Popper:
"A representation of instrumentalism can be obtained … by omitting … the universe of the realities behind the various appearances.

Number 4 sounds like logical positivism to which I am quite opposed. I don't find the comments of Dewey and Popper particularly helpful here either.
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Re: Philosophy and Science

Postby webplodder on September 7th, 2017, 6:46 am 

Since the birth of quantum mechanics scientists have been very successful at applying the mathematical implications of a probabilistic reality yet still largely remain clueless about what underlies reality.

The pioneers of quantum mechanics realized at the time that our universe could not be regarded any longer as a physical, deterministic one but one that demanded some kind of mental component in order to make it work, at least in human terms.

You only have to examine some of the quotes that many of the finest minds made about the true nature of scientific theories and this is still as true today as it was then. However, many of today's scientists still maintain a materialistic interpretation of reality in the face of phenomena that cannot be explained away by this approach.

Where is the evidence for such a startling position? You only have to examine the data obtained from variations of the double-slit experiment to see we can no longer use physical theories with which to describe reality.

When 'which-way' information is deleted in the quantum delayed eraser experiment (that is, information about which slit a particle went through on its way to a back screen), the back screen upon being looked at will always show a diffraction pattern, which indicates no particles hit. Now here, we have a situation where something done after the experiment had been performed changed the result of the experiment! How could this happen in a causal, deterministic reality where doing something after a particular event has occurred changes the outcome of the event?

Some people say it is because of a retro-active effect, that is, causing time travel in the past in order to change something happening in the future. This is not, however, the case.

What is being shown is that it is the information that is crucial here in that eliminating any record of particles in the here and now causes the back screen to be consistent and show a diffraction pattern since no particle data exists in the current reality frame. We force reality to make a decision about particle/diffraction data by looking at the back screen which, up until then, could be either particle of diffraction data and is neither until a conscious observer examines the screen.
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