Do Scientists Need Philosophers?

27 November 2017

What is the value of philosophy of science? Psshaw, what do philosophers even know about science? Shouldn't we just trust scientists when it comes to questions of science?

The following article by philosopher Subrena Smith in Aeon Magazine explores an answer to these questions. Essentially, there are presuppositions in science worth analyzing from a philosophical perspective.

Take a look:

Comments (2)

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 -- 1:01 PM

Which was first? It appears

Which was first? It appears (to me) from all I have read over the last forty years, that philosophy was likely first, if only because it is related to theology: both being original 'humanities', and both preceding the more orderly and empirical discipline we know as science. I have also heard the 'science doesn't need philosophy' argument, which compels me to wonder whether or not we would still be here if philosophy did not exist and did not ask hard questions about what the hell science is doing. My metaphysical self says: without one to balance the other, we might not. Is this just a circularity, based on a gut feeling about how things should be? Maybe so. But does anyone wish to experiment with the continued existence of sentient life? I mean, simply abolish philosophy, and see what happens? Does that seem to stretch the premise of Hume's Fork---to and unacceptable level of risk? I think I'd rather keep the status quo. For now. Trust is tricky. Science is powerful. And, unpredictable.

MJA's picture


Tuesday, November 28, 2017 -- 6:59 PM

I have some philosophical

I have some philosophical science questions!

If science is defined as "a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths..." and philosophy being defined as "the study of truth", then the philosophic question for science and scientist is: what is scientifically true? Are scientific theories true? Is the big bang true? The speed of light? Is the Universe truly expanding, and if so what is it expanding into? Isn't quantum mechanics uncertain or probable at best? Atomic theory? Micro science? Truth? Isn't truth absolute? And my favorite question of all: is nature truly measurable? If science or physics is the measure or measurer of nature, then science do tell, what is nature's measure? How big is it, us, me, or as Descartes would say, "I"? What does Nature weight? How many atoms are there? How many fish are in the sea? Grains of sand anyone? What can science truly measure and how much of the universe have they measured? Are they just getting started or almost done? Are there measurements probable or absolute? I anything scientifically absolute? And then science, what is the measure of science itself? How much of the infinite universe do they themselves know? Is science certain about anything, everything, nothing?

I think philosophy has role to play with science, don't you? And the important role is: (drum role please) the question!!!