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Why [Physics] Needs [Philosophy]

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    The delightful part of all this is that Krauss is doing philosophy by engaging with his detractors

    Am I doing psychology if I say that this statement is an example of deformation professionelle?


    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    I don't know, flipping through that, it seems mostly like the philosophers are annoyed that physics and physicists simply don't give a shit about the questions they are trying to ask. Physics just digs deeper and deeper down the layers of physical properties. It doesn't care nor is it equipped to care about any other question beyond "What effect causes X?".

  • Tiger BurningTiger Burning (poster is a bear)Registered User, SolidSaints Tube regular
    Feral wrote: »
    The delightful part of all this is that Krauss is doing philosophy by engaging with his detractors

    Am I doing psychology if I say that this statement is an example of deformation professionelle?


    Yes, probably! Also, inaccurately in this case.

    “You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Science is for how, philosophy/religion is for why.

    This is nonsense. Aside from us not having any use for religion anyway the whole how/why thing is silly. As long as we don't limit "science" to just experiments there is no real difference in approach. Philosophy is science, though it is usually about the theoretical aspects and the fundaments rather than practical application.

    Philosophy is science only if you use the loosest definition of science. That's not to discount the usefulness of philosophy, but most (rightly) don't consider it science. It asks and answers fundamentally different questions, with a fundamentally different goal.

    If you consider science at it's loosest, as only the pursuit of knowledge through systematic means, then I guess some philosophy could be considered science. The problem is, even using that definition of science, it assumes you are pursuing factual knowledge, something philosophy can't provide. Facts need to be proven, but questions of "why?" can't be proven past the fundamental ground floor that was discussed earlier. As soon as you begin asking "why?" beyond what observational science can provide, you are way out of the realm of fact.

    Again, this doesn't mean philosophy isn't useful. Humans are concerned with far more than just how and when...why is a fundamentally important question to our existence. Calling it science is a bit of a stretch though.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    So while I think Krauss is overreaching quite a bit when he makes broad generalizations of philosophy, I am somewhat sympathetic to comments like "This sense that somehow physicists... aren't justified in talking about these things, or haven't thought deeply about them." I've encountered, and I continue to encounter, that kind of chauvinism coming from philosophers (or, at the very least, philosophy students) quite a lot.

    I agree that that's bad. Arrogance about your field is never a good idea.

    However, it's not crazy to suggest that when physicists start waxing philosophical about string-theory and shit that they might be helped by critical analysis done by philosophers.

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Elitistb wrote: »
    Physics is never going to tell us why we're here, or the meaning of life, or What is Truth.
    I think part of the problem is assuming that these are actual questions (as in something that makes actual sense to ask, assuming you could reasonably define the terms and in the case of the first, what "why" even means), then that they have actual answers, and then that anything could actually provide a path to answering them.

    You're saying that "the meaning of life" isn't a real question? The question of "Why is life worth living" is meaningless? I'd contend that it's the most important question for a human being to ponder. That's the question we've been asking since we first thought about thinking.




    I'll agree that science cannot answer these questions. But that in no way makes them "meaningless".

    Read through H/A sometime, and look at the number of questions focused upon non-scientific questions that definitely have meaning for the people who ask them. At the moment there's a marriage thread discussing the question of whether or not a particular marriage is worth maintaining. There's an abortion thread asking ethical, moral, and practical questions regarding the decision of abortion.

    If we cast those aside as "Science can't quantify those questions, so they're meaningless", then we've cast aside humanity in favor of spreadsheets.

    I don't think you really want to do that.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    So while I think Krauss is overreaching quite a bit when he makes broad generalizations of philosophy, I am somewhat sympathetic to comments like "This sense that somehow physicists... aren't justified in talking about these things, or haven't thought deeply about them." I've encountered, and I continue to encounter, that kind of chauvinism coming from philosophers (or, at the very least, philosophy students) quite a lot.

    I agree that that's bad. Arrogance about your field is never a good idea.

    However, it's not crazy to suggest that when physicists start waxing philosophical about string-theory and shit that they might be helped by critical analysis done by philosophers.

    Really going to need some examples of this right here.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    So while I think Krauss is overreaching quite a bit when he makes broad generalizations of philosophy, I am somewhat sympathetic to comments like "This sense that somehow physicists... aren't justified in talking about these things, or haven't thought deeply about them." I've encountered, and I continue to encounter, that kind of chauvinism coming from philosophers (or, at the very least, philosophy students) quite a lot.

    I agree that that's bad. Arrogance about your field is never a good idea.

    However, it's not crazy to suggest that when physicists start waxing philosophical about string-theory and shit that they might be helped by critical analysis done by philosophers.

    Really going to need some examples of this right here.

    Michio Kaku

    Pretty much everything he says.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    There's an abortion thread asking ethical, moral, and practical questions regarding the decision of abortion.

    That's a question that can't be solved without an empirical understanding of human development, empirical understanding of medicine, empirical and deductive understanding of the economics of raising a child, and a logical & philosophical approach to ethics.

    It's a very good example of a question where science and philosophy need to have a dialogue and you can't simply reject people from either field.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Michio Kaku is a populist speaker at this point, he isn't an active working theoretical physicist. He's one of the "faces of physics", and plays an important role...but I don't think he needs a philosopher spot checking him all the time. He's trying to make physics palatable to the masses, which is going to lead to some waxing poetic...but I think it's quite a bit of hubris to say he needs a philosopher to do anything for him.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    As I've stated in these forums before, I feel that physics is sorely lacking in basic philosophy, and is stalled or slowed because of it. Hell, philosophy is often lacking in basic philosophy.

    Too often I read someone who is clearly extremely well versed in physics, explaining a theory that is clearly philosophically flawed. And they are completely oblivious to it. Then they bang their heads an gnash their teeth for a while and usually fail to reconcile why the very scientific premises they believed they were working from were actually logically contradictory and useless.

    A common example I see is a lack of consistent usage of the concept of quantization. Someone tells me that X is the shortest possible length in the universe, and then proceed to prove some concept to me that includes an equation with a length of "X/6" in it somewhere. Their focus on math and physics lends them to basic assumptions that X is just a constant, and the math is just the math, so I'm crazy to question the validity of X/6. It's just some constant divided by 6 so let's move on. And I'm like, "but you said there was no length possibile less than X, and now you're trying to use a length of 1/6 X as an argument about something, and so I doubt that you have a solid philosophical concept of what you are and aren't doing here."

    To put it another way: I often hear statements like this. Chemistry is just physics, and physics is just math. Well, guess what? Math is just philosophy. It's just symbols and logic and proofs and arguments and truths. That's philosophy. You never see anyone acknowledging that part of it.

    There are philosophical arguments that challenge the very structure of math itself. Not surprisingly, there are modern physicists who now call for physics to do the same.

    Yar on
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    _J_ wrote: »
    I appreciated your comments. This one, though, may require a reply.

    Physics uses more than just the tools of logic. When it gets down to the primordial questions regarding the fundamental nature of the universe, physics is beholden to the historical attempts of philosophers to explain these same question. "Atoms", for example, were philosophical ideas before they were science's ideas. This is, of course, true of the primary assumptions of any field of study since it originated as a branch of philosophy and then became an "independent" discipline.

    But that's, perhaps, a point worth considering. Contemporary science, be it empirical or speculative, originated in Thales. When Einstein was crafting his theories he didn't have microscopes or lab assistance. He sat at his table and speculated about the fundamental nature of reality.

    Which, interestingly, is what most philosophers do.

    No, he didn't. Einstein set down with a shitload of experimental results no one could explain and then pointed out the obvious, but mindbending, explanation.

    All of Einstein's major work published in 1905 was based on huge stacks of experimental results. His entire breakthrough in special relativity was actually built on taking those results at face value.

    If you don't get this, you don't' really understand how physicists do their work.

    shryke on
  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Does it though? I feel the Incompleteness Theorem more then adequately addresses the problem - it stands to reason that at some level of reducibility, we reach a fundamentalness of the universe where we can no longer use it against itself.

    I don't think you want to apply Gödel to physics.

    The incompletness theorum is basically predicated upon the notion that any completely self-contained system will either produce a statement of the form "This statement is false" or it will produce both the statement "X is true / the case" and "~X is true / the case".

    The universe doesn't do that. Which, perhaps, says something about Gödel's proof.

    I'm still note entirely clear on whether physicists maintain that their conceptual systems mirror the way things be (it seems like many of them do) but that presupposition can be problematic in a number of ways, and at least needs to be argued for.

    Gödel is neat and all, but applying it to physics is problematic insofar as that application relies upon a number of assumptions regarding both the universe and its knowability.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    As I've stated in these forums before, I feel that physics is sorely lacking in basic philosophy, and is stalled or slowed because of it. Hell, philosophy is often lacking in basic philosophy.

    Too often I read someone who is clearly extremely well versed in physics, explaining a theory that is clearly philosophically flawed. And they are completely oblivious to it. Then they bang their heads an gnash their teeth for a while and usually fail to reconcile why the very scientific premises they believed they were working from were actually logically contradictory and useless.

    A common example I see is a lack of consistent usage of the concept of quantization. Someone tells me that X is the shortest possible length in the universe, and then proceed to prove some concept to me that includes an equation with a length of "X/6" in it somewhere. Their focus on math and physics lends them to basic assumptions that X is just a constant, and the math is just the math, so I'm crazy to question the validity of X/6. It's just some constant divided by 6 so let's move on. And I'm like, "but you said there was no length possibile less than X, and now you're trying to use a length of 1/6 X as an argument about something, and so I doubt that you have a solid philosophical concept of what you are and aren't doing here."

    To put it another way: I often hear statements like this. Chemistry is just physics, and physics is just math. Well, guess what? Math is just philosophy. It's just symbols and logic and proofs and arguments and truths. That's philosophy. You never see anyone acknowledging that part of it.

    There are philosophical arguments that challenge the very structure of math itself. Not surprisingly, there are modern physicists who now call for physics to do the same.

    What use or relevance is this philosophical objection though?

    They focus on the math because that's all there is to physics. It's mathematical models.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Physics uses the tools of logic developed by philosophers, but the avenues of investigation pursued by physicists and philosophers of science are simply non-intersecting. If scientists stopped doing physics right this moment, philosophers of science could keep philosophizing about existing scientific theory indefinitely. If all of the philosophers were struck dead tomorrow morning, physics could keep right on trucking with its experimentation.

    I appreciated your comments. This one, though, may require a reply.

    Physics uses more than just the tools of logic. When it gets down to the primordial questions regarding the fundamental nature of the universe, physics is beholden to the historical attempts of philosophers to explain these same question. "Atoms", for example, were philosophical ideas before they were science's ideas. This is, of course, true of the primary assumptions of any field of study since it originated as a branch of philosophy and then became an "independent" discipline.

    But that's, perhaps, a point worth considering. Contemporary science, be it empirical or speculative, originated in Thales. When Einstein was crafting his theories he didn't have microscopes or lab assistance. He sat at his table and speculated about the fundamental nature of reality.

    Which, interestingly, is what most philosophers do.

    In the same way that some criticize philosophers for holding too tightly to the origin story of any particular discipline, I think that persons in other disciplines can be criticized for ignoring the historical origins of their field of study and the degree to which their conceptual tools were fashioned by philosophers.

    Finally, I'll just point out that "If all the philosophers were struck dead tomorrow, physics could keep right on trucking" isn't technically correct. All of those physicists have Ph.D.s, you know.

    "Doctors of Philosophy", as it were.

    If you're just going to posit that everyone with a doctorate is a philosopher then we may as well stop now because your conclusion train has already arrived at its destination and no switching of tracks on my part is going to make a difference.

    Feral already said it: there's some degree of truth in saying that all scientists are doing philosophy, but there is a non-arbitrary distinction between the fields, the same as the difference between chemistry and physics. Yeah, there are parts of chemistry and physics that are essentially indistinguishable from one another (you can, for example, do Physical Chemistry or do Chemical Physics and, by and large, swap reference books without noticing), but that doesn't make the entire fields the same.

    Einstein sat at a table and reasoned things out, but his reasoning was based on prior observation of physical processes and done with the intent of future experiment. The scientific method, despite being a philosophical construct, separates the physical sciences from philosophy. One does not formulate a philosophical hypothesis and then experiment to see if it's true. I'd imagine you'd want to stay way away from any suggestion that this was the case, considering your stance on logic and proof :p
    _J_ wrote: »
    Fundamental physical law is fundamental because it's the bottom floor.

    Until we find a new bottom, as a result of philosophers prodding scientists to answer the "But why is THAT the case?" question. Quantum theory came from someone asking, "But why is THAT the case?" Presumably, whatever comes next will follow from someone asking "But why are quantum fields there?"

    Seems like every time science posits a new bottom, the project of inquiry uncovers new foundations.

    Yeah, and I don't think that we should ever stop looking. But if a bottom floor does, in fact, exist, then that's the bottom of science. Physics can't ask questions about what's under the foundation, whatever the foundation may be, because it's not equipped to look for answers. It's worth poking around to make sure that what you thought was the foundation isn't just the ceiling of another sub-basement, but once you find bedrock, it's bedrock.

    And maybe there is no bedrock. Maybe it is infinite regression. There are what appear, to a modern scientist's understanding, limitations to the depth at which we could possibly probe. There may be hard physical limits on what we can possibly know about the universe which give us a smaller realm of potential scientific knowledge than literally everything. If that's the case then...I dunno. Maybe we can start up a new branch of inquiry distinct from both philosophy and physical science that speculates about what's under the tarp but can't ever actually find out.

    I just don't see any reason to assume that infinite regress is the case. We have a history of finding new levels of regression beneath what we thought was the bottom, and there are, indeed, indications that our current model doesn't go quite deep enough, but a history of growth doesn't seem to me like a good basis on which to predict infinite future growth.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Does it though? I feel the Incompleteness Theorem more then adequately addresses the problem - it stands to reason that at some level of reducibility, we reach a fundamentalness of the universe where we can no longer use it against itself.

    I don't think you want to apply Gödel to physics.

    The incompletness theorum is basically predicated upon the notion that any completely self-contained system will either produce a statement of the form "This statement is false" or it will produce both the statement "X is true / the case" and "~X is true / the case".

    The universe doesn't do that. Which, perhaps, says something about Gödel's proof.

    I'm still note entirely clear on whether physicists maintain that their conceptual systems mirror the way things be (it seems like many of them do) but that presupposition can be problematic in a number of ways, and at least needs to be argued for.

    Gödel is neat and all, but applying it to physics is problematic insofar as that application relies upon a number of assumptions regarding both the universe and its knowability.

    Well Gödel applies to mathematics, mathematics is the descriptive language of physics - often commented upon - and physics is the underlying descriptive language of the universe.

    More over, I don't see how probability fields really undermine the idea, which I assume is what you are alluding to in saying the universe does not work that way. Just because we can define something as indeterminate, doesn't mean we know nothing of it - electron probability fields in the atomic nucleus are very well understood, and very determinate - you can do chemistry based on that. "Forbidden" transitions between electron shells aren't forbidden, so much as very unlikely.

    I mean, let's remember that "X" can be a very specific description of the exact state of everything in the universe.

  • _J__J_ Pedant Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    At the risk of sounding like a dick myself, I kind of wish MrMister had started this thread instead of _J_.

    I think MrMister has a sophisticated understanding of how scientific empiricism and philosophical deduction interact, while _J_ likes to go 'lol induction lol'.

    Because, at the end of the day, the sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the empiricist's project reduces down to the bare fact that induction and abduction do not produce certainty. Every scientific observation, ever, is subject to the possibility that it is mistaken. No amount of repeated testing will ever get science to certainty.

    Hume.

    We can dance around that reality all we want. But when I read people like Krauss, and other persons who maintain his mindset of, "I'm getting answers, philosophers need to shut up." it reawakens the need to offer the gentle nudging reminder that they aren't actually collecting answers.

    They are speculating.

    Seriously J not only are you a monumentally umpleasant person when you start uttering the nonsense that passes for philosophy in your mind (shame on whatever institution you graduated in, and shame on your tutors for creating such a monster), but your sense of humor, such as it is, is awful.
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Science is for how, philosophy/religion is for why.

    This is nonsense. Aside from us not having any use for religion anyway the whole how/why thing is silly. As long as we don't limit "science" to just experiments there is no real difference in approach. Philosophy is science, though it is usually about the theoretical aspects and the fundaments rather than practical application.

    Eh, one viewpoint (common among philosophers) is that science is a branch of philosophy - philosophy covers the gathering of knowledge and science is the empirical subcategory of that (ie, 'natural philosophy').

    I'm sympathetic to that viewpoint but I don't really agree - it's a bit like saying that chemistry is a branch of physics. The fields are divergent enough that you can't trivially translate expertise and methods from one field to the other. I feel like people only make statements like that when they want to be chauvinist dicks.

    hm, my point is that when you start actually using and thinking about the data you've collected with science you're engaging in the same thing that philosophy does. It might not be in the same field, but the methods in the abstract sense are the same. I understand the objection that it sounds kinda arrogant, but I'm not talking about Academic Philosophy as it stands now but the more broader definition that simply is about knowledge.
    Aside from us not having any use for religion anyway the whole how/why thing is silly.

    Yes, because people of faith have accomplish nothing of significance in human history, ever. No contributions to art, law, moral theory, advancing human rights or being charitable. Anything they've done is all in spite of their faith, not because of it right? It's all just ethnic cleansing and bigotry?

    Science benefits from having many points of view, it does not subtract from it.

    With regards to science we have no use for religion. Religious people might be a great benefit, but religion itself is almost entirely metaphysical and of no use for, well, the physical understanding of the world.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    As I've stated in these forums before, I feel that physics is sorely lacking in basic philosophy, and is stalled or slowed because of it. Hell, philosophy is often lacking in basic philosophy.

    Too often I read someone who is clearly extremely well versed in physics, explaining a theory that is clearly philosophically flawed. And they are completely oblivious to it. Then they bang their heads an gnash their teeth for a while and usually fail to reconcile why the very scientific premises they believed they were working from were actually logically contradictory and useless.

    A common example I see is a lack of consistent usage of the concept of quantization. Someone tells me that X is the shortest possible length in the universe, and then proceed to prove some concept to me that includes an equation with a length of "X/6" in it somewhere. Their focus on math and physics lends them to basic assumptions that X is just a constant, and the math is just the math, so I'm crazy to question the validity of X/6. It's just some constant divided by 6 so let's move on. And I'm like, "but you said there was no length possibile less than X, and now you're trying to use a length of 1/6 X as an argument about something, and so I doubt that you have a solid philosophical concept of what you are and aren't doing here."

    To put it another way: I often hear statements like this. Chemistry is just physics, and physics is just math. Well, guess what? Math is just philosophy. It's just symbols and logic and proofs and arguments and truths. That's philosophy. You never see anyone acknowledging that part of it.

    There are philosophical arguments that challenge the very structure of math itself. Not surprisingly, there are modern physicists who now call for physics to do the same.

    There's still no such thing as length quantization. And if there were, ignoring it would be a mathematical mistake, not a philosophical mistake. Except inasmuch as math is a form of symbolic philosophy.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    At the risk of sounding like a dick myself, I kind of wish MrMister had started this thread instead of _J_.

    I think MrMister has a sophisticated understanding of how scientific empiricism and philosophical deduction interact, while _J_ likes to go 'lol induction lol'.

    Because, at the end of the day, the sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the empiricist's project reduces down to the bare fact that induction and abduction do not produce certainty. Every scientific observation, ever, is subject to the possibility that it is mistaken. No amount of repeated testing will ever get science to certainty.

    Hume.

    We can dance around that reality all we want. But when I read people like Krauss, and other persons who maintain his mindset of, "I'm getting answers, philosophers need to shut up." it reawakens the need to offer the gentle nudging reminder that they aren't actually collecting answers.

    They are speculating.

    Perhaps absolute certainty isn't remotely as important as you make it out to be.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • shrykeshryke Member of the Beast Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    At the risk of sounding like a dick myself, I kind of wish MrMister had started this thread instead of _J_.

    I think MrMister has a sophisticated understanding of how scientific empiricism and philosophical deduction interact, while _J_ likes to go 'lol induction lol'.

    Because, at the end of the day, the sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the empiricist's project reduces down to the bare fact that induction and abduction do not produce certainty. Every scientific observation, ever, is subject to the possibility that it is mistaken. No amount of repeated testing will ever get science to certainty.

    Hume.

    We can dance around that reality all we want. But when I read people like Krauss, and other persons who maintain his mindset of, "I'm getting answers, philosophers need to shut up." it reawakens the need to offer the gentle nudging reminder that they aren't actually collecting answers.

    They are speculating.

    So what?

    Seriously, science is about creating models that stand up to repeated testing. That's what it does.

    That model is only good till it gets disproven. This isn't like a shocking revelation, it's the backbone of science and science is well aware of this.

    You keep exposing a deep ignorance of how science is done and how scientists view their work.

    People like Krauss are finding answers in that they are creating models that explain all the experimental results we have so far. That is what science does.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    Someone tells me that X is the shortest possible length in the universe, and then proceed to prove some concept to me that includes an equation with a length of "X/6" in it somewhere.

    There's still no such thing as length quantization. And if there were, ignoring it would be a mathematical mistake, not a philosophical mistake. Except inasmuch as math is a form of symbolic philosophy.

    Wouldn't that mistake be roughly analogous to using the wrong number of significant figures?

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Green DreamGreen Dream Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    At the risk of sounding like a dick myself, I kind of wish MrMister had started this thread instead of _J_.

    I think MrMister has a sophisticated understanding of how scientific empiricism and philosophical deduction interact, while _J_ likes to go 'lol induction lol'.

    Because, at the end of the day, the sophisticated, nuanced understanding of the empiricist's project reduces down to the bare fact that induction and abduction do not produce certainty. Every scientific observation, ever, is subject to the possibility that it is mistaken. No amount of repeated testing will ever get science to certainty.

    Hume.

    We can dance around that reality all we want. But when I read people like Krauss, and other persons who maintain his mindset of, "I'm getting answers, philosophers need to shut up." it reawakens the need to offer the gentle nudging reminder that they aren't actually collecting answers.

    They are speculating.

    This is not a thread about defining the concept of certainty and if it's going to derail into that we can probably just shut this down, but I'm going to go ahead and suggest that your use of the word can be rejected as unreasonable and unrepresentative of the conceptual use and scope of the word (not unlike my earlier examples of defining "nothing" so that nothing can't be nothing and defining "flat" so that no matter how flat something it it can't be flat). You can, of course, choose to define your concepts however you like, but that doesn't make it OK to define them unreasonably.

    Knowledge of nature is fundamentally different from knowledge generated by purely logical inquiry. Knowledge generated by logical inquiry may have applications in scientific and technological fields and certainly supports the aquisition of knowledge about nature, but they are separate domains, and they are both kinds of knowledge. It is the difference between knowing facts and knowing rules (roughly stated).

    Logical "certainty" should never be sought or desired in science; that is a fundamental mistake and shows a failure to understand what Hume had to say about the nature of knowledge.

    I do not claim that this is an argument against you that should win you over - I am making a statement, not an argument, just like you are. This is, after all, not a thread for arguing this point. However, I do wish you to understand that you cannot take your position for granted, as one that "at the end of the day" we have to accept. It is not.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    My main issue with this entire "science is philosophy" thing, is that by the definitions people are using to make that claim, all human thought is philosophy. If that's the case, then philosophy really has no meaning, because it's simply human thought. Humans would have come to the conclusions philosophy came to, whether we called it philosophy or tomato soup, and whether we ever acknowledged it was a thing at all. If that's what philosophers are saying, that's fine, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a point of pride that your entire field of study is basically predicated on what humans just sort of do anyway.

    It's harder to make the correlation of physics or chemistry or biology. We wouldn't have just sort of figured them out. They took concise effort on the part of a lot of intelligent people to reach the wide breadth of conclusions we've reached.

    To be fair, I think philosophy has done the same. But to acknowledge that, one must acknowledge that philosophy really is it's own discipline, and the high order things it has produced are actually just based on discrete knowledge acquisition. Just like science is based on those same discrete packages of processing power the brain provides. To lay ownership over the basis of human thought is the hubris and arrogance I think a lot of people get spiky about. Philosophy as a young discipline may have codified it and wrote it down, but humans were thinking that way long before the Ancient Greeks wrote it down.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Yar wrote: »
    Someone tells me that X is the shortest possible length in the universe, and then proceed to prove some concept to me that includes an equation with a length of "X/6" in it somewhere.

    There's still no such thing as length quantization. And if there were, ignoring it would be a mathematical mistake, not a philosophical mistake. Except inasmuch as math is a form of symbolic philosophy.

    Wouldn't that mistake be roughly analogous to using the wrong number of significant figures?

    Mm, not exactly.

    Here's a relatively simple example:

    Electron spin is quantized (actually; unlike length). The magnetic moment of an electron is also dependent upon its spin. By extension, the magnetic moment of a collection of electrons is dependent upon the sum of their spins. If you had some theoretical mechanism which manipulated the spins of electrons on their way into an assembly and you were interested in calculating the magnetic properties of that assembly, once assembled, it would be important to keep in mind the quantized nature of the electrons' spins. If you failed to do so and, instead, assumed that your electrons had, I don't know, a Normal distributed spin, you'd come out with a completely wrong prediction of the assembly's magnetic moment (probably, you could actually make a couple of errors that that would cancel out, but you get my point).

    Using the wrong number of significant figures at various places in your calculation will yield a (probably) wrong result, but it will be right up to a point (which you could even go back and figure out based on how many sig figs you used where). Neglecting to account for quantization in quantized properties will yield a totally invalid result.

    The closest analogy I can think of that requires no knowledge of math or physics is using the wrong batteries in a calculator. Like if you managed to find a collection of batteries in a box that were all the size of AA's but labeled in languages you don't speak so you just grab one and hope. Maybe it's the right voltage and everything's cool. Maybe it's the wrong voltage but it's close enough that you don't notice the difference. Or maybe your calculator explodes.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    edited May 2012

    The problem with that question asking itself is that there is no end to it asking itself, which is what Krauss was saying in a round-about way.

    Which is the point his critics are making. If there is no floor, do not proclaim "i have found the floor and explained it"

    Because well, you haven't.
    Julius wrote: »
    There was an interesting article I read yesterday about Hawking saying the same shit about philosophy too.link

    Philosophy isn't just "the meaning of life" or "what is good?". It's actually useful, if not vital, for having any science-talk actually make sense. Yeah sure sometimes it's just a load of nonsense, but that goes for some "physics" too.

    And this is why probably our greatest failing in science education, is failing to teach the Philosophy of Science.
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Philosophy is science only if you use the loosest definition of science. That's not to discount the usefulness of philosophy, but most (rightly) don't consider it science. It asks and answers fundamentally different questions, with a fundamentally different goal.

    If Philosophy isn't science then math isn't science and if math isn't science then neither are physics and well, ever natural science we have.

    Edit: The answer is "Formal Systems". Not all human thought deals with formal systems, some thought deals with the properties of formal systems themselves. Some thought deals with constructing formal systems to describe the world we're in. Philosophy of science is basically "the formal system of how we ought to build formal systems"

    Goumindong on
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  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote: »
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Philosophy is science only if you use the loosest definition of science. That's not to discount the usefulness of philosophy, but most (rightly) don't consider it science. It asks and answers fundamentally different questions, with a fundamentally different goal.

    If Philosophy isn't science then math isn't science and if math isn't science then neither are physics and well, ever natural science we have.

    Math isn't physical science.

    There is an enormous amount of mathematical exploration and constructs which has no use whatsoever in describing the physical world - or at least one that is not yet discovered. The development of public/private key encryption is notable in this regard, as is the development of quantum mechanics: it was discovered through analysis that particle behavior could be described by already known mathematics, when you plugged in the experimental observations.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Science is for how, philosophy/religion is for why.

    This is nonsense. Aside from us not having any use for religion anyway the whole how/why thing is silly. As long as we don't limit "science" to just experiments there is no real difference in approach. Philosophy is science, though it is usually about the theoretical aspects and the fundaments rather than practical application.

    Philosophy is science only if you use the loosest definition of science. That's not to discount the usefulness of philosophy, but most (rightly) don't consider it science. It asks and answers fundamentally different questions, with a fundamentally different goal.

    If you consider science at it's loosest, as only the pursuit of knowledge through systematic means, then I guess some philosophy could be considered science. The problem is, even using that definition of science, it assumes you are pursuing factual knowledge, something philosophy can't provide. Facts need to be proven, but questions of "why?" can't be proven past the fundamental ground floor that was discussed earlier. As soon as you begin asking "why?" beyond what observational science can provide, you are way out of the realm of fact.

    Again, this doesn't mean philosophy isn't useful. Humans are concerned with far more than just how and when...why is a fundamentally important question to our existence. Calling it science is a bit of a stretch though.

    Without philosophy you wouldn't even have this concept of factual knowledge you're talking about.

  • BethrynBethryn Registered User regular
    _J_ wrote: »
    Bethryn wrote: »
    If nothing can give rise to something, it is not nothing; it has the property of being able to give rise to something.

    You realize that in stating it this way you are also assigning properties to nothing, insofar as you are making a positive claim about nothing's absence of properties. "Nothing is a lack of properties", as it were.
    I tend to avoid the concept of 'positive/negative claims' as I believe it to be an intellectual trap.

    Within the universe, properties imply interaction (which implies the existence of something else), and also mechanisms. The problem is that the concept of nothing isn't universal, and if at any point there was nothing but nothing, it had no possible interactions and thus no properties and/or mechanisms. Without either of these, how does it go about giving rise to something?

    And if it does have properties and/or mechanisms, how is it nothing?
    _J_ wrote: »
    Bethryn wrote: »
    If nothing can't give rise to something, and we know that there is presently something, there cannot at any 'time' have been only nothing.

    Perhaps nothing can act as a foundation to something. Your statement "there is something, so there always had to have been something" has a brother in the phrase "there is something, so nothing has to be able to generate something."
    At which point we get back to the problem of nothing having a property.

    bethryn.png
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Not only is math not a physical science, but to have the hubris to imply that math wouldn't exist if philosophy didn't exist is mind boggling. Humans were exploring math and the properties of our physical world, using logical means, long before the study of philosophy was codified. Again, attempting to take ownership of human thought is pretty arrogant.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Pi-r8Pi-r8 Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    So, let's pick sides!

    Team-Krauss: Boo Philosophy. Yey physics!
    Team- Albert: Boo terrible definitions. Yey clarity of thought!
    Mostly I just think that Krauss is an enormous dick, who's frustrated because he hasn't been able to do any significant research since the 80's, so now he's trying to cash in on the wave of pop-physics books by pretending that he's some all-knowing genius who can make grand, sweeping pronouncements on the nature of the universe.

    Alternatively, this: http://xkcd.com/793/

    But yeah I think it's true that most scientists really don't give a shit about the philosophy of science. Or to the extent that they do, it's just a side-hobby and really doesn't affect their work.

    Pi-r8 on
  • BethrynBethryn Registered User regular
    There's basically this big gap between inadvertent philosophy, which tends to arise from any sort of prolonged investigative interaction with the world, and studying philosophy and attempting to perform logic.

    The former is very important, and is why philosophers like to remind everyone that philosophy is relevant.
    The latter is generally irrelevant to the investigation of the world, and often gives rise to impractical ideas stemming from use of the phrase "it stands to reason," or variants thereof. See: solipsism.

    bethryn.png
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Science is for how, philosophy/religion is for why.

    This is nonsense. Aside from us not having any use for religion anyway the whole how/why thing is silly. As long as we don't limit "science" to just experiments there is no real difference in approach. Philosophy is science, though it is usually about the theoretical aspects and the fundaments rather than practical application.

    Philosophy is science only if you use the loosest definition of science. That's not to discount the usefulness of philosophy, but most (rightly) don't consider it science. It asks and answers fundamentally different questions, with a fundamentally different goal.

    If you consider science at it's loosest, as only the pursuit of knowledge through systematic means, then I guess some philosophy could be considered science. The problem is, even using that definition of science, it assumes you are pursuing factual knowledge, something philosophy can't provide. Facts need to be proven, but questions of "why?" can't be proven past the fundamental ground floor that was discussed earlier. As soon as you begin asking "why?" beyond what observational science can provide, you are way out of the realm of fact.

    Again, this doesn't mean philosophy isn't useful. Humans are concerned with far more than just how and when...why is a fundamentally important question to our existence. Calling it science is a bit of a stretch though.

    Without philosophy you wouldn't even have this concept of factual knowledge you're talking about.

    There isn't even an argument for this. You are making the implication that logic and fact and thought didn't exist before philosophy said it existed. As if humans were just jelly masses that slithered around randomly hitting things with clubs using pure instinct before philosophy came a long and told us all how to be problem solvers.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    dis tred

    oh my lawd

    obF2Wuw.png
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Electron spin is quantized (actually; unlike length). The magnetic moment of an electron is also dependent upon its spin. By extension, the magnetic moment of a collection of electrons is dependent upon the sum of their spins. If you had some theoretical mechanism which manipulated the spins of electrons on their way into an assembly and you were interested in calculating the magnetic properties of that assembly, once assembled, it would be important to keep in mind the quantized nature of the electrons' spins. If you failed to do so and, instead, assumed that your electrons had, I don't know, a Normal distributed spin, you'd come out with a completely wrong prediction of the assembly's magnetic moment (probably, you could actually make a couple of errors that that would cancel out, but you get my point).

    Got it. That makes sense to me. Thanks!

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Goumindong wrote: »

    The problem with that question asking itself is that there is no end to it asking itself, which is what Krauss was saying in a round-about way.

    Which is the point his critics are making. If there is no floor, do not proclaim "i have found the floor and explained it"

    Because well, you haven't.

    If any of his critics were making arguments based on gauge invariance or the lack of hard evidence for super-symmetry as predicted by the standard model or even appealing to elegance and waving in the direction of quark flavors I might be tempted to agree.

    But I don't see any evidence that they're actually protesting that quantum field theory isn't fundamental beyond, "Nuh-uh! If you're so smart, where did the fields come from?!"

    There are reasons to believe that what we currently think are fundamental constituents of the physical universe are, in fact, not, but those reasons are purely speculative. All of the evidence we actually have indicates that quantum field theory is a relatively accurate, or at least accurate but incomplete, description of the fundamental interactions of the universe. So far as I can tell, Krauss' book explains why quantum fields give rise to particles and why this is unsurprising rather than miraculous. I don't see anything scientifically the matter with that. We may speculate that there's further regression, and likely always will speculate, but there isn't actually evidence for it.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    dis tred

    oh my lawd

    i demand you make a substantive contribution with not a single word correctly spelled in the entire post.

    Inquisitor wrote: »
    I fucking hate you Canadians.
  • surrealitychecksurrealitycheck NONSTOP INFINITE CLIMAX POSTING you must go on i cant go on ill go onRegistered User regular
    luckily for your eyes and soul i am off to a friends house... but i shall return, terrible phonetic spellings in hand

    obF2Wuw.png
  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Not only is math not a physical science, but to have the hubris to imply that math wouldn't exist if philosophy didn't exist is mind boggling. Humans were exploring math and the properties of our physical world, using logical means, long before the study of philosophy was codified. Again, attempting to take ownership of human thought is pretty arrogant.
    1) Math is a science
    2) I did not say math would not exist if Philosophy did not. I said that if Philosophy is not a science then Math is not a science. [and conversely if Math is not a science then neither are any of the physical sciences]

    This is actually a very simple logical construction which follows from the understanding that the same aspects of the physical sciences that make them sciences are also necessarily present in Math and Philosophy.

    Your complaint is the same goosiness which claims that the social sciences are not sciences [when in fact they are as much sciences as any of the physical sciences]


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  • GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    If any of his critics were making arguments based on gauge invariance or the lack of hard evidence for super-symmetry as predicted by the standard model or even appealing to elegance and waving in the direction of quark flavors I might be tempted to agree.

    If he was making an argument about those things existing i would tend to agree. But he was not, he was saying "we have found the end" and the philosophers are like "what fucking really?"

    The philosophers in this case, are not saying the science is bad, they're saying that you probably should not make those grand pronouncements if they're not true.

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