0675: "Revolutionary"

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tussock
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby tussock » Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:50 am UTC

I think most people misinterpret relativity because they don't realise you can't compare clocks or distances in different reference frames (or, WRT the comic, how folks moving at -0.9c and +0.9c relative to you are only moving apart at ~0.994475c from their own perspectives, but 1.8c from yours, and that that's OK).

Because to compare notes and find out who was right, you've got to do some acceleration, and that changes all those different answers to be the same again by the time you've caught up to one of them and matched speed, give or take a little time travel (boldly, into the future) for the acceleration.

And the only reason your clocks looked "different" in the first place is because someone had already done some serious acceleration at a distance, and ignoring that time shift makes a whole lot of paradoxes seem to appear.

...

Plus, Rapidity makes the whole thing ever so much clearer. Linear addition of velocity FTW. The world we see is a hyperbolic tangent of the underlying truth (to return to the thread theme of stepping on the toes of philosophers).

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sixes_and_sevens
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby sixes_and_sevens » Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:55 pm UTC

ReinSeiun wrote:If you are interested, you can actually see this give and take between philosophy and science in a real world, contemporary example. There is a powerful feud going on between Philosophers of Mind and Psychologists. The two camps really go at one another.


The general phenomenon you've described is one I've been thinking about recently but not really seen elucidated upon elsewhere. I do have my doubts about the capacity of nonscience disciplines to cede ownership of territory which they no longer have as strong a claim to. At precisely what point will all teachers of a subject traditionally classified as an art, which has been superceded by a functional science discipline, decide to give up and go home?

(Philosophy seems to be one of the more well-behaved nonsciences in this case. It can at the very least provide and describe an epistemic substrate for science/knowledge/fact/proof/logic/semantics. There is no excuse for a post-structuralist critique of economic policy about which we have clear data to draw actually useful conclusions from).

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby cellocgw » Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:09 pm UTC

Two responses to the alt text:

1) Good luck with that

2) It's glaringly obvious that, to the kooks who come up with these alternate theories, that 'the choice which involves less work' is ALWAYS the one that doesn't involve reading or research.

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ram1024
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ram1024 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:23 pm UTC

light takes the momentum of its inertial frame, it's no different from throwing a ball up and down in a moving train. all the silly time dilation and length contraction came about because of bad math.

1. postulate the constancy of the speed of light
2. do experiment
3. throw away all frame movement because of assumption 1.
4. conclude experiment is a success

special relativity is bunk, light travels at C relative to you when emitted from your own stationary frame of reference. for everyone else observing in a different inertial frame, it's travelling a different speed.

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jakovasaur
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby jakovasaur » Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:34 pm UTC

sixes_and_sevens wrote:
ReinSeiun wrote:If you are interested, you can actually see this give and take between philosophy and science in a real world, contemporary example. There is a powerful feud going on between Philosophers of Mind and Psychologists. The two camps really go at one another.


The general phenomenon you've described is one I've been thinking about recently but not really seen elucidated upon elsewhere. I do have my doubts about the capacity of nonscience disciplines to cede ownership of territory which they no longer have as strong a claim to. At precisely what point will all teachers of a subject traditionally classified as an art, which has been superceded by a functional science discipline, decide to give up and go home?

(Philosophy seems to be one of the more well-behaved nonsciences in this case. It can at the very least provide and describe an epistemic substrate for science/knowledge/fact/proof/logic/semantics. There is no excuse for a post-structuralist critique of economic policy about which we have clear data to draw actually useful conclusions from).


It is pure silliness to call philosophy a "nonscience". There is absolutely no realm of knowledge or thought to which philosophy doesn't have a strong claim. I have grave doubts that psychologists, neuroscientists or any other branch of "hard science" will render philosophy of mind anywhere near obsolete.

I was reading Putnam today, discussing the "ready-made world", and the tension between metaphysical realism and non-essentialism, due to the fact that making any claim about the truth of the world based solely on mind-independent data is impossible. The issue of causality was particularly interesting. What, exactly, is a definition of causality that one can use and define without referring to mind-dependent processes? Where will the scientific method ever get you, if it leads to claims like "x is the cause of y" when the very notion of causality is so unclear?

Or, if every entity in the world is classified and described, as in "thing x is a y", we still have the question of "what does 'is' mean?" Is there even such a thing as "y's", or is everything its own independent thing? Is it necessary and true in all worlds? Could it have been different? How can we know this?

No amount of data, technology, or experimentation can yield satisfactory answers to the most fundamental questions like philosophy can.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby sixes_and_sevens » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:34 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote: It is pure silliness to call philosophy a "nonscience". There is absolutely no realm of knowledge or thought to which philosophy doesn't have a strong claim. I have grave doubts that psychologists, neuroscientists or any other branch of "hard science" will render philosophy of mind anywhere near obsolete.


The academic field of philosophy may be a strong underlying element of science, but so are language and mathematics, and they're not sciences either.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ram1024 » Tue Dec 15, 2009 7:37 pm UTC

philosophy strongly employs logic and reasoning, which are applicable to any science.

science tells you what is happening, philosophy tells you why it's important.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Innocent » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:05 pm UTC

sixes_and_sevens wrote:
jakovasaur wrote: It is pure silliness to call philosophy a "nonscience". There is absolutely no realm of knowledge or thought to which philosophy doesn't have a strong claim. I have grave doubts that psychologists, neuroscientists or any other branch of "hard science" will render philosophy of mind anywhere near obsolete.


The academic field of philosophy may be a strong underlying element of science, but so are language and mathematics, and they're not sciences either.


The claim wasn't that philosophy is a science or philosophy is the same as science. The claim was that philosophy will remain relevant to science, in a similar way to the way that language and math remain relevant to science. No amount of scientific discovery will make obsolete the philosophy of science, any more than scientific discovery could make math obsolete. Scientists will still require math to do science and they'll still require the philosophy of science to do science.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ReinSeiun » Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

jakovasaur wrote:There is absolutely no realm of knowledge or thought to which philosophy doesn't have a strong claim. I have grave doubts that psychologists, neuroscientists or any other branch of "hard science" will render philosophy of mind anywhere near obsolete.


If psychologists ever develop the tools to expertly analyze and dissect the processes of the human mind, with the ability to predict how an individual will react to certain stimuli, philosophy of mind will, if not be made obsolete, have its sphere of influence greatly diminished, as it should.

If you think such tools are impossible (which they very well might be), I'll grant you your point.

I wasn't trying to make such a controversial statement by saying that Philosophy of Mind would be made obsolete - I probably just chose a poor example to illustrate how science can "take over" a philosophical field.

jakovasaur wrote:I was reading Putnam today, discussing the "ready-made world", and the tension between metaphysical realism and non-essentialism, due to the fact that making any claim about the truth of the world based solely on mind-independent data is impossible.
*snip*
No amount of data, technology, or experimentation can yield satisfactory answers to the most fundamental questions like philosophy can.


I don't disagree with you, but those "satisfactory answers" philosophy gives us are still based as much on opinion and aesthetics as they are on observation. Like science, Philosophy has no end point, but philosophy's change over time is a lot muddier than science's changes ever will be. The philosophical thoughts of today will fall out of style and be replaced to fit the aesthetics of future cultures.

Kant, for instance, dealt in philosophical absolutes we now consider impossible. He didn't do that because he was unintelligent - he did that because he was working within the aesthetics of his time, which wanted strong, concrete answers to its questions. He was a good philosopher because he created very satisfactory, influential work for his time. We do not find his writings purely satisfactory today because of his absolutism, and we instead read him because of how influential his work was. His work helps us put our own contemporary philosophy into proper context.

But Kant would not find our philosophies satisfactory either. He would likely assert that our contemporary philosophies say nothing at all.

What makes philosophy so beautiful is that it has no clear direction in its progress. As long as reality does not change, science will more or less continue marching in the same direction it always has. Philosophy has the freedom to wander, and any given philosophy is only as good as how many people with burning questions it manages to satisfy.

My point, basically, is that one philosopher's satisfactory answers can never be counted on to work forever. But any given scientific method of prediction can be counted on to work as well one thousand years from now as it does today, so long as the prediction of the future is done within the same conditions it was done in today.

In short, Philosophy is culture's bitch and will be affected by culture without question - that's what it's supposed to do, really. But if we take it too seriously, or think the meanings that philosophy generates are more concrete than they are, we're likely to wind up looking very foolish.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby sixes_and_sevens » Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:55 pm UTC

Innocent wrote:The claim wasn't that philosophy is a science or philosophy is the same as science. The claim was that philosophy will remain relevant to science, in a similar way to the way that language and math remain relevant to science. No amount of scientific discovery will make obsolete the philosophy of science, any more than scientific discovery could make math obsolete. Scientists will still require math to do science and they'll still require the philosophy of science to do science.


Well, I can't disagree with that, but "non-science" is still an appropriate term. There are areas considered to be part of philosophy which science is increasingly equipped to study. The philosophy of mind example was, to my mind, a particularly good example of a field which did not exist as a discrete science but is now rapidly coming under greater and deeper scientific scrutiny. The mind is, after all, an observable phenomenon against which experiments can be carried out and conclusions drawn, unlike, say, ethics, which is beyond the scope of such analysis at this point in time.

There will always be some epistemic (hence philosophical) underpinning to any effort to gain knowledge, but whereas in the past we may have responded to a question about how our minds operate with a shrug and gone "that's one for the philosophers", we are now in a position to devise and test hypotheses to help us draw conclusions one way or another.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby phlip » Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:20 pm UTC

ram1024 wrote:special relativity is bunk, light travels at C relative to you when emitted from your own stationary frame of reference. for everyone else observing in a different inertial frame, it's travelling a different speed.

Incorrect. If you and I are both inertial, but moving relative to each other, and I shine a light, you will still measure the wavefront as moving at c relative to yourself. I will also measure it as moving at c relative to myself.

This has been verified by experiment, and is predicted by the theory (Maxwell and such).

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby folkhero » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:29 am UTC

phlip wrote:
ram1024 wrote:special relativity is bunk, light travels at C relative to you when emitted from your own stationary frame of reference. for everyone else observing in a different inertial frame, it's travelling a different speed.

Incorrect. If you and I are both inertial, but moving relative to each other, and I shine a light, you will still measure the wavefront as moving at c relative to yourself. I will also measure it as moving at c relative to myself.

This has been verified by experiment, and is predicted by the theory (Maxwell and such).

No, didn't you read his post? All those experiments fall under what he calls "bad math," and are thus wrong and irrelevant. It's just like throwing up a ball in a train. I'm sure he wouldn't have said this unless he had mountains of evidence that outweighs previous experiments. I'm sure he's not a crank, or a troll pretending to be a crank...

Wait, I've been informed that he almost certainly is one of those things. Relativity is safe for now
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jakovasaur
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby jakovasaur » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:39 am UTC

ReinSeiun wrote:
jakovasaur wrote:There is absolutely no realm of knowledge or thought to which philosophy doesn't have a strong claim. I have grave doubts that psychologists, neuroscientists or any other branch of "hard science" will render philosophy of mind anywhere near obsolete.


If psychologists ever develop the tools to expertly analyze and dissect the processes of the human mind, with the ability to predict how an individual will react to certain stimuli, philosophy of mind will, if not be made obsolete, have its sphere of influence greatly diminished, as it should.

If you think such tools are impossible (which they very well might be), I'll grant you your point.

I wasn't trying to make such a controversial statement by saying that Philosophy of Mind would be made obsolete - I probably just chose a poor example to illustrate how science can "take over" a philosophical field.

jakovasaur wrote:I was reading Putnam today, discussing the "ready-made world", and the tension between metaphysical realism and non-essentialism, due to the fact that making any claim about the truth of the world based solely on mind-independent data is impossible.
*snip*
No amount of data, technology, or experimentation can yield satisfactory answers to the most fundamental questions like philosophy can.


I don't disagree with you, but those "satisfactory answers" philosophy gives us are still based as much on opinion and aesthetics as they are on observation. Like science, Philosophy has no end point, but philosophy's change over time is a lot muddier than science's changes ever will be. The philosophical thoughts of today will fall out of style and be replaced to fit the aesthetics of future cultures.

Kant, for instance, dealt in philosophical absolutes we now consider impossible. He didn't do that because he was unintelligent - he did that because he was working within the aesthetics of his time, which wanted strong, concrete answers to its questions. He was a good philosopher because he created very satisfactory, influential work for his time. We do not find his writings purely satisfactory today because of his absolutism, and we instead read him because of how influential his work was. His work helps us put our own contemporary philosophy into proper context.

But Kant would not find our philosophies satisfactory either. He would likely assert that our contemporary philosophies say nothing at all.

What makes philosophy so beautiful is that it has no clear direction in its progress. As long as reality does not change, science will more or less continue marching in the same direction it always has. Philosophy has the freedom to wander, and any given philosophy is only as good as how many people with burning questions it manages to satisfy.

My point, basically, is that one philosopher's satisfactory answers can never be counted on to work forever. But any given scientific method of prediction can be counted on to work as well one thousand years from now as it does today, so long as the prediction of the future is done within the same conditions it was done in today.

In short, Philosophy is culture's bitch and will be affected by culture without question - that's what it's supposed to do, really. But if we take it too seriously, or think the meanings that philosophy generates are more concrete than they are, we're likely to wind up looking very foolish.

This is just poorly done meta-philosophy. You realize that you are attempting to define philosophy, with little to no education of it (from what I gather), in exactly the same way the guy in the comic was trying to do science without a science background. And I would argue that philosophy shapes culture, and the science follows.

Kant was a great philosopher because he was right about a lot of things, and helped us gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. You say that science is dependent on "reality not changing", but I would say that our conception of reality is constantly changing because of philosophy.I fail to see how anyone can say philosophy has no direction to progress toward. If it doesn't, then science can't, because any goal of science must be grounded in philosophy.

Philosophy is almost the opposite of "aesthetics". It has nothing to do with beauty or its subjective value to a person. It has to do with sound logic, original ideas and conceptual thought. Just as our current scientific endeavors still bear the influence of centuries-old scientific conjecture, so too is our modern philosophy "but a series of footnotes to Plato".

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Innocent » Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:48 am UTC

jakovasaur wrote:Kant was a great philosopher because he was right about a lot of things, and helped us gain a better understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. You say that science is dependent on "reality not changing", but I would say that our conception of reality is constantly changing because of philosophy.I fail to see how anyone can say philosophy has no direction to progress toward. If it doesn't, then science can't, because any goal of science must be grounded in philosophy.

Philosophy is almost the opposite of "aesthetics". It has nothing to do with beauty or its subjective value to a person. It has to do with sound logic, original ideas and conceptual thought. Just as our current scientific endeavors still bear the influence of centuries-old scientific conjecture, so too is our modern philosophy "but a series of footnotes to Plato".


To be fair, it's certainly a philosophical question as to what beauty and its value is. It's also a philosophical question whether or not subjective value is worth pursuing. Plato is indeed a highly important foundation to Western philosophy but I think I'd be safe in saying that I disagree with just about everything he sets forth in one way or another. That's not to say I don't consider it important; one of the first things I do when considering the role of the state in anything is go back to Plato just to refresh myself on what he has to say. Also, aesthetics is usually considered a branch of philosophy.

I agree with what you're saying here insofar as the philosophy of philosophy (or metaphilosophy) isn't at all like aesthetics. I'm just posting this because I think your post could be misinterpreted rather easily.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ReinSeiun » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:00 am UTC

jakovasaur wrote:You realize that you are attempting to define philosophy, with little to no education of it (from what I gather), in exactly the same way the guy in the comic was trying to do science without a science background. And I would argue that philosophy shapes culture, and the science follows.


I beg your pardon - as mentioned earlier in the thread, I have a Bachelor's Degree in philosophy from Bard College, and most of the classes I took were -on- the subject of meta-philosophy, and especially on the nature of truth in general.

Philosophy cannot exist in a vacuum, and it cannot exist without context. The context which philosophy exists in is two fold - past philosophies such as Plato and Kant provide one half of the context, and the culture of the age provides the other half of the context.

You cannot truly understand Kant without learning about what his life was like in Germany (The man was so rigid in his behavior that it was said you could set your clocks to his morning walks), and what his peers were saying before Kant put pen to paper. You cannot truly understand Locke without doing the same. Or William James. Or even a contemporary philosopher like Putnam. And our interpretations of past philosophies are heavily influenced by the contexts of our own culture. I can almost guarantee you that what you take out of Kant is not the same as what one of his peers would have taken out of the work, because of said differences in culture.

Any given philosophy may shape the culture that follows (if we're lucky enough for the laypersons to pay attention to us philosophers - much easier said than done in this day and age), but philosophy is also -absolutely defined- by the culture that precedes it. Philosophers have their biases and preferences just like all other people, and no amount of logic nor reasoning can eliminate the effect our preferences have on the philosophy we create. Logic is only as good as the given premises, and reasoning is flexible enough to make nearly any idea seem rational. That's where the word "rationalization" comes from.

Continental philosophy differs from western philosophy differs from eastern philosophy because of the different cultures and aethetics of the people who produced them. And they are all different enough in what they assert, and how they assert it, that the idea of Philosophy as a whole working toward some common end-point, like science, is simply laughable.

If Kant did not want the world to have hard, concrete, universal truths, his philosophy would have been very different. And his wants were shaped by his experiences as a human being. And if Kant's age did not have a culture -receptive- to his ideas, odds are we wouldn't be talking about him right now. If a philosophy is ahead of its time, it is forgotten, and someone else will likely take credit for authoring it when the time is right.

I really hate to break it to you, but the field of Philosophy, like all human endeavors, is dominated by cliques, pecking orders, and warring factions - far more so than science is, because all we philosophers can do is reason and argue. Scientists can present hard data to support their claims. The history of philosophy is so filled with splits in factions, waxing and waning waves of popularity and literary betrayals that it is almost as interesting as the history of nations. If Philosophy as a field of study were truly as pure as you seem to claim it to be, there would be far more consensus than there is, and philosophers as a whole would act more like calculators than men.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby jakovasaur » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:57 am UTC

ReinSeiun wrote:I beg your pardon - as mentioned earlier in the thread, I have a Bachelor's Degree in philosophy from Bard College, and most of the classes I took were -on- the subject of meta-philosophy, and especially on the nature of truth in general.

Boy, was I wrong. Sorry, I misjudged. Your viewpoint just doesn't seemed to fit with how I view someone committed to and well-versed in philosophy, but I was wrong. Although Bard College is one of those "librul, intellectual-elite" type colleges, so I'm not sure it counts.

Anyways, you're dead-on about the state of Philosophy as a professional field, and academia in general, but the process works, and is necessary. Any end-point you see science reaching toward (e.g. eco-sustainability, abundance of resources, medical technology, "absolute truth") is just as embedded in our needs and goals as people, but without any attempt at understanding what those goals actually are or how we relate to them. Scientists can more clearly "support" a "claim" than philosophy, only because philosophy recognizes the inherent difficulties in the process of science itself. As I said, a scientist can gather all the data he wants about how "x causes y", but that is just a collection of facts about a relationship that he fundamentally doesn't understand. Philosophy doesn't understand it either, but it's our only hope of ever doing so.

The way I see it, philosophy is the foundation, science is the building, and culture and society constitutes the loads that the building must support (both dynamic and static). Our current place in the world sets the parameters and limits for the endeavor, philosophy establishes how we should go about constructing knowledge, and science is the realization of that plan.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ReinSeiun » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:32 am UTC

@ jakovasaur - I don't think we're really going to be going anywhere with this, but I do want to make one more comment:

jakovasaur wrote:As I said, a scientist can gather all the data he wants about how "x causes y", but that is just a collection of facts about a relationship that he fundamentally doesn't understand.


Scientists don't do that. Scientists are not so interested in causes as in prediction. You could take causation out of science entirely and it would still work. A scientists finds out "if x, then y" by repeating experiments, and building tools of prediction, not gathering data about "x causes y". Y always following X could be simple correlation - science doesn't care as long as it's repeatable and reliable. You could call that causation, you could call it truth, you could call it any number of things, but doing so would lead to misunderstandings like this.

Engineers, Scientists and Philosophers are speaking different languages when they talk about truth, causes and results, because the nature of their disciplines are so different, and the English language as a whole is not complex enough to avoid these misunderstandings. Engineers care about results, scientists care about prediction, and philosophers care about meaning. Any one of those things could be called truth, but they are different natures of truth. And all three sides tend to assume that the other two are talking about the same thing, when they're not.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby folkhero » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:17 am UTC

ReinSeiun wrote:
folkhero wrote:You realize that you are attempting to define philosophy, with little to no education of it (from what I gather), in exactly the same way the guy in the comic was trying to do science without a science background. And I would argue that philosophy shapes culture, and the science follows.


I'm pretty sure that it wasn't me who said that.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ReinSeiun » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:33 am UTC

folkhero wrote:
ReinSeiun wrote:
folkhero wrote:You realize that you are attempting to define philosophy, with little to no education of it (from what I gather), in exactly the same way the guy in the comic was trying to do science without a science background. And I would argue that philosophy shapes culture, and the science follows.


I'm pretty sure that it wasn't me who said that.


Apologies. Fixed in the post in question.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:09 am UTC

I know I'm coming into this discussion horribly late, but I'd like to reiterate a point that was made in passing a few pages ago: What you all are doing right now is philosophy. Even those of you trying to dismiss philosophy as irrelevant or inferior to science.

If ever you are engaging in an argument about why science is better in some way than something else (I'm carefully avoiding terms like 'reality', 'truth', 'knowledge', or even 'belief' here), then you are engaging in philosophy. Thus, if nothing else, the value of philosophy to science is in convincing people to adopt or support their methods and conclusions -- in other words, to listen to what you scientists are saying in the first place.

Philosophy is logically prior to, or of a higher order than, the natural sciences. I don't at all mean to say that philosophy is "better" than science; I don't mean to put them in competition at all. What I mean is that in adopting the scientific method (however you want to construe "the scientific method") you are at least implicitly adopting some philosophical stance, and the soundness of your claims within the realm of science in turn depends on the soundness of the philosophy which underlies it. Working scientists and scientifically-minded laymen for the most part don't have to care about the soundness of the philosophical principles that underlie science because they're all in rough agreement about those principles, and perhaps some aren't even aware that anybody else doubts them; they're steeped in the scientific mindset and see it as so obvious it doesn't warrant question.

I would generally tend to agree, being of a similar mindset myself, but there is nothing too incredible (in the literal sense of 'not credible') for someone out there to believe it, and so we get kooks like young-earth creationists and intelligent design fans and insert-your-favorite-antiscientific-camp-here, who do disagree with the philosophical principles underlying science. If you want to convince them that science is better in whatever way than whatever their flavor of anti-science, then you've got to do philosophy.

And this applies to every other field of inquiry as well, such as the big one that the natural sciences don't even claim to approach: what we might call "normative sciences" (ethics and its kin). A bunch of Biblical literalists arguing between each other about the morality of some act are not doing philosophy, because they're in agreement about the method of resolving their dispute: read the Bible and see what it says. Likewise if it were a bunch of social constructivists, who might agree that the obvious way to tell what's right or wrong is to put it to a vote, or observe the local customs, or read the law, or whatever their flavor of constructivism says. It's not until the Biblical literalist and the social constructivist get in an argument with each other, or with a Kantian, or someone else with a fundamentally different idea about how to answer normative questions, that they have to step outside of their paradigms and start actually doing philosophy. In this way, everything "reduces" to or depends upon philosophy on a theoretical level, even if in normal practice plenty of people never step so far out of their paradigms as to have to actually engage in philosophy per se.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Esoto » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:44 am UTC

Hey people, I have no phD or anything and I barely made a semester in philosophy (before quitting) and I think I have just found three proofs (or at least paradoxes) on how free will is wrong (granted, not every philosopher thinks free will is right)! :mrgreen:

Does that make me kinda like the 'racecar on a train' philosopher in the comic? :(

Nah...

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby ram1024 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:09 pm UTC

phlip wrote:
ram1024 wrote:special relativity is bunk, light travels at C relative to you when emitted from your own stationary frame of reference. for everyone else observing in a different inertial frame, it's travelling a different speed.

Incorrect. If you and I are both inertial, but moving relative to each other, and I shine a light, you will still measure the wavefront as moving at c relative to yourself. I will also measure it as moving at c relative to myself.

This has been verified by experiment, and is predicted by the theory (Maxwell and such).


did you check the math?

1. do the experiment
2. assume the observer is stationary
3. throw out any motion (because light is constant)
4. calculate without motion
5. lo and behold without any change in motion light is constant

i assure you, this is what they did.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby JWalker » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:11 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I know I'm coming into this discussion horribly late, but I'd like to reiterate a point that was made in passing a few pages ago: What you all are doing right now is philosophy. Even those of you trying to dismiss philosophy as irrelevant or inferior to science.

I don't think anyone here thinks philosophy is irrelevant or inferior or anything like that. It is however unimportant in science. Just because we are engaging in philosophy now does not mean it is important to science.
What I mean is that in adopting the scientific method (however you want to construe "the scientific method") you are at least implicitly adopting some philosophical stance, and the soundness of your claims within the realm of science in turn depends on the soundness of the philosophy which underlies it.

There is no "Scientific Method." There is no well defined philosophical stance that one must have to do science, or any philosophy that determines how sound whatever science you are doing is. This is a common misconception about the philosophy of science. The "Scientific Method" is ill defined to the point of being essentially meaningless. Science certainly isn't done by method. This is really the problem that makes the philosophy of science interesting; what constitutes science? Such a philosophical question has not been definitively answered and in fact cannot be. This does not get in the way of any scientist doing their job, however philosophically sound or unsound what they're doing is. Unless a philosopher of science can say something definitive and testable about science, whatever they're doing is useless to scientists. Scientists simply do not care what you have to say about science unless you can demonstrate that it has merit, no matter how rational your argument may be. The point I am trying to make here is that for something to be scientifically sound it does not need to be philosophically sound (if there is even such a thing as being philosophically sound).

Just to be clear, I love philosophy (which is why I keep reading this thread), and I also love science. It is important to separate the two, however close they may be related. The philosophy of science by no means defines science itself, no matter how much a philosopher wants it to, science will do its own thing. So please, philosophers, don't tell scientists how to do science; when you level objections towards it, you are objecting to it on grounds that are only relevant to other philosophers.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby justingerard » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:19 pm UTC

Zenexer wrote:
sje46 wrote:
Zenexer wrote:
(12:06:03 AM) Justin Gerard: IF you've got a train moving at the speed of light, then you go faster in the race car

Ah. :P

Who is this? Is this just some nobody on an IRC channel or something? Because Google's not helping.

Anyways, I don't understand why people don't get the joke. He's poking fun at those egotistical foolish people who think they're much smarter than they actually are, able to solve problems that the experts in the field know inside out.

Something I actually did a lot, as a young philosophy. I used to think that I was the only one who realized that maybe all this is a dream, and I am the only person who exists. Or thought that I could use magnets as a reusable resource to move trains (not realizing that perpetual machines are impossible).


That is Justin Gerard. Yes, he is just some nobody on an IRC channel or something. No, Google will not help you stalk him.

I don't understand why people don't get the joke, either; the explanation is right in the first post. Yes, he is poking fun at people like my 8th grade Social Studies teacher.

Everyone does that, not just philosophers. Everyone wonders if this is just a dream (see: Matrix). Yes, everyone thinks of the magnets-make-it-move-forever thing, and eventually the more complex motor-and-transformer thing. Then we realize that makes no sense, along with all other perpetual machines.


Why thank you very much for quoting our IM conversation, zenexer....

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:46 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:
What I mean is that in adopting the scientific method (however you want to construe "the scientific method") you are at least implicitly adopting some philosophical stance, and the soundness of your claims within the realm of science in turn depends on the soundness of the philosophy which underlies it.

There is no "Scientific Method." There is no well defined philosophical stance that one must have to do science, or any philosophy that determines how sound whatever science you are doing is.

That is precisely why I said things like "(however you want to construe 'the scientific method')", and qualified my statements such as "you are at least implicitly adopting some philosophical stance" and in "[scientists are] in rough agreement about [their] principles" (emphasis added). I know very well that most working scientists don't give a second thought as to exactly what philosophical assumptions they are making in adopting the methods they use, or even give those methods themselves much analysis or scrutiny. They don't have to, because everyone they're mainly concerned about convincing -- namely, other scientists -- have roughly the same understanding of what constitutes valid methodology as they do, so things don't have to get philosophical between them.

Certainly, they have enough philosophical ground in common between each other to be able to criticise each other of doing "bad science", even if none of them can articulate or agree upon exactly what "good science" is. If there weren't at least that much, peer review would be nothing more than a vote on whether the reviewers agree with the conclusions, instead of a review of the process leading up to those conclusions, such things as whether the evidence was properly collected and whether the inferences drawn from it are logically or mathematically valid (e.g. statistical significance, not just blatant calculation errors).

Such a philosophical question has not been definitively answered and in fact cannot be.

That's a philosophical position right there :-)

This does not get in the way of any scientist doing their job, however philosophically sound or unsound what they're doing is. Unless a philosopher of science can say something definitive and testable about science, whatever they're doing is useless to scientists.

But it might get in the way of any scientists having jobs to begin with. If nobody cared what results scientists came up with, what use would science be to anyone? Who would do it? If everyone believed, as the so-called "Christian Scientists" do, that modern empirical medicine was bunk, who would do medical research anymore?

I agree that scientists don't need philosophy to do science, but science needs philosophy in order for anyone to care about it. From science's point of view (if I may anthropomorphize for a moment), the job of philosophy is to direct people to science for answers to questions about the physical world, and defend science from those who would attack it. Which I'd say is pretty useful to science, and thus to the scientists who practice it.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Amaroq » Wed Dec 16, 2009 2:53 pm UTC

Late argument joiner myself. Usually I just look at the comic and go on my merry way without venturing to the forum. But here I am now.

I probably should have taken the quip against philosophers as just poking fun. But considering this was shown to me by my roommate, who regularly uses science to (unsuccessfully, though he thinks otherwise) attack my philosophy, it's easy for me to take at least a dislike to the message here, if not offense.

I'm not a physics guy or a math guy. I'm arguably not even a philosophy guy, so much as a single-philosophy guy. (Objectivist.) So I'll just put that out there and get it out of the way.

Science does rely on philosophy. Everything we do does. You have answers to questions like "Is this real?" "Are my senses valid?" "Does reality exist independent of my consciousness, or does my consciousness determine reality?" (Primacy of existence vs primacy of consciousness) "Can man have knowledge of the universe?" "Can his knowledge be valid?" etc. Those answers determine how you think about everything else.

Scientists don't have to explicitly know what a philosophy is, but they have an underlying philosophy whether they know it or not, and that philosophy influences how they do science.

When it comes to accepting an underlying philosophy, you really only have two choices. One, the ideas you're exposed to in your journey through life will integrate into some random philosophy without your explicit choice in the matter. Two, you can study different philosophies, defined by philosophers, and choose whichever one makes most sense to you.

Philosophy not only influences science, but it influences culture as well. The culture of the time may or may not influence the philosopher. But the philosopher can choose whether to define their philosophy as rationally as they can, or pick an end goal and work their way to it however they can. Ultimately, the mindset of the culture is influenced by the dominant philosophy of the time.

My roommate is a math/science guy. You'd think that would qualify him for being rational, but to me, it appears he is quite the opposite. He believes in a lot of weird shit. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, our senses are invalid because they can't see the quarks (which is the level at which the universe REALLY operates), everything above the level of quarks doesn't exist/is subjective, consciousness and free will are illusions and aren't real... Pretty much every destructive conclusion an irrational philosophy can lead you to. And he uses high level science to try to force this bullshit down my throat, in contradiction to obvious reality, on a regular basis.

As if his metaphysics and epistemology aren't screwed up enough, his ethics and politics are completely monstrous. Utilitarianism, egalitarianism, complete and utter unconditional nonviolence. His standard for judging value is not his own life, but an unbiased, neutral perspective of the universe from outside himself in which the judgment is simple: One human life < two or more human lives. His ethics proclaims that any one person should be willing to die before defending himself against any other person.

That may not sound so bad, but you must consider that this kind of thinking leads to collectives sacrificing individuals to themselves. And individuals willing to sacrifice themselves to a collective.

Like the other stuff he tries to force down my throat, he tries to use "science" to justify this too. "Look at Gandhi! Nonviolence works!" "The data shows a trend in which the human race is becoming more and more nonviolent!" (A trend in the behavior of the entire human race means that the direction it's moving in is an advancement and anything you say contradictory to it is in disagreement with advancement.)

I agree that philosophers shouldn't intrude into fields they don't understand. But outright dishonest "scientists" need to mind their own business too.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby JWalker » Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:42 pm UTC

Amaroq wrote:Science does rely on philosophy. Everything we do does. You have answers to questions like "Is this real?" "Are my senses valid?" "Does reality exist independent of my consciousness, or does my consciousness determine reality?" (Primacy of existence vs primacy of consciousness) "Can man have knowledge of the universe?" "Can his knowledge be valid?" etc. Those answers determine how you think about everything else.

Do any of these questions have answers which are not entirely subjective?
Pfhorrest wrote:That is precisely why I said things like "(however you want to construe 'the scientific method')", and qualified my statements such as "you are at least implicitly adopting some philosophical stance" and in "[scientists are] in rough agreement about [their] principles" (emphasis added). I know very well that most working scientists don't give a second thought as to exactly what philosophical assumptions they are making in adopting the methods they use, or even give those methods themselves much analysis or scrutiny. They don't have to, because everyone they're mainly concerned about convincing -- namely, other scientists -- have roughly the same understanding of what constitutes valid methodology as they do, so things don't have to get philosophical between them.

I suppose this is where I disagree with you. I look around at my science colleagues and I see people who have (knowingly or otherwise) adopted an astonishingly varied philosophy of science, on which there is frequently very little common ground. The only reason scientific discussions don't devolve into a heated philosophy debate is because we have mathematics to fall back on (please don't start telling me about the philosophy of math). I wonder how the field of philosophy is relevant to science when those who practice science pay no attention to it and do not need to. You may say that all of these people are using philosophy themselves, and you would be right, but I do not see how that makes philosophy relevant to science.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby schrodingasdawg » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

Amaroq wrote:He believes in a lot of weird shit. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, ...


How is MWI weird shit?

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Leerax » Wed Dec 16, 2009 4:58 pm UTC

I feel like the alt text of this comic could best be applied to Randall himself after he wrote this comic:

http://xkcd.com/451/

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Innocent » Wed Dec 16, 2009 5:36 pm UTC

Amaroq wrote:My roommate is a math/science guy. You'd think that would qualify him for being rational, but to me, it appears he is quite the opposite. He believes in a lot of weird shit. The many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, our senses are invalid because they can't see the quarks (which is the level at which the universe REALLY operates), everything above the level of quarks doesn't exist/is subjective, consciousness and free will are illusions and aren't real... Pretty much every destructive conclusion an irrational philosophy can lead you to. And he uses high level science to try to force this bullshit down my throat, in contradiction to obvious reality, on a regular basis.


Whoa whoa whoa. This started out as a decent defense of philosophy in general and now this? The Many Worlds interpretation doesn't have piles of evidence going for it but it's far from weird and there are some decent reasons to believe it. Our senses being invalid is a pretty damn common philosophical position, considering it was most famously defended by Plato. It ought to be obvious to you that your senses lie to you at some points anyway. Have you never seen an illusion or had a dream? Although I have to say that "not seeing quarks" is a pretty shitty justification for distrusting the senses. There are many better arguments out there. Consciousness and free will may well be illusions. I've been doing a good deal of reading on the subject and the funny thing is that even if the universe is not deterministic,(and I'm not inclined to believe that it is but there is a great deal of evidence pointing to it being that way) it doesn't guarantee free will. The universe could be deterministic or it could be random but neither one necessarily implies free will. Now I like free will because I like ethics and you can't have ethics without responsibility, but I'm forced to admit that I can't just assume free will if that were to come under debate.

As if his metaphysics and epistemology aren't screwed up enough, his ethics and politics are completely monstrous. Utilitarianism, egalitarianism, complete and utter unconditional nonviolence. His standard for judging value is not his own life, but an unbiased, neutral perspective of the universe from outside himself in which the judgment is simple: One human life < two or more human lives. His ethics proclaims that any one person should be willing to die before defending himself against any other person.


Utilitarianism is also a well-known and well-defended philosophy of ethics. You dismiss it out of hand here without really understanding what it is. If this guy has only given you "mathematical" or "scientific" arguments in favor of it that is perhaps understandable, but nevertheless Utilitarianism has some powerful justifications on its side, and I think it is on the whole better defended than Objectivism. I'm not a Utilitarian myself either, or at least, I'm certainly not a strict Utilitarian. I lean more towards Kant these days but I'm enrolled in an ethics class this coming semester so that could well change as I learn more about other systems. Regardless, the philosophical (not mathematical) arguments for Utilitarianism are quite powerful. I don't think this is the time or the place to have an argument over specific ethical systems but if you've only been dismissing Utilitarianism because its defense has been poorly argued, you owe it to yourself to do some reading and have a conversation with someone who really knows what they're talking about. As for justifications for self-defense, there are plenty, but killing in self-defense, especially when it's your property that's in danger, not your life, is rather difficult to justify. We can argue this later.

That may not sound so bad, but you must consider that this kind of thinking leads to collectives sacrificing individuals to themselves. And individuals willing to sacrifice themselves to a collective.


This already happens here and now in modern American society, but not for the reasons you think.

Like the other stuff he tries to force down my throat, he tries to use "science" to justify this too. "Look at Gandhi! Nonviolence works!" "The data shows a trend in which the human race is becoming more and more nonviolent!" (A trend in the behavior of the entire human race means that the direction it's moving in is an advancement and anything you say contradictory to it is in disagreement with advancement.)


That is the worst argument for nonviolence I have ever heard. It just makes no sense. On the other hand, there are lots of powerful arguments for nonviolence. From Kant, violence violates the categorical imperative, thus rendering the violent person damaged as well. It is better to allow violence to happen to you than to protect your physical body at the expense of your own morality. From Mill, violence against many to achieve the ends of few results in more suffering and less happiness all around. From Singer (extrapolated), whenever we have the opportunity not to do violence, we have the duty not to do violence. These arguments are based around internally consistent rational perspectives on morality, which certainly could not be said to be less valid than Objectivism. Before deciding that Objectivism is the only philosophy with solid justification, investigate Utilitarian and Kantian ethics (not that Kant or Mill are at all easy to read, but hey, I'm guessing you made it through The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged). Including the work that's been done on them since the original ideas came up in the 18th century, they have by now very powerful justification. I haven't done much reading of Rand's works (I haven't made it through either The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged although I have read Anthem and some other works by various people that discuss Objectivism) but from what I can see the ethical system of her philosophy is the weakest part. The epistemological and metaphysical aspects are pretty noncontroversial but "rational self-interest" is in no way necessitated by believing in an objective reality. One could easily enough substitute "rational group-interest" where the group is the entire human species, and you end up pretty damn close to traditional Utilitarianism. To clarify, I'm not saying you need to dump all Objectivist beliefs now, but you should consider replacing one section of Objectivist ethics, that being the necessity of rational-self interest and rejection of altruism, with something that is better justified, such as weak Utilitarianism. As far as I can tell, both of those stances are equally compatible with Objectivist epistemology and metaphysics.

I agree that philosophers shouldn't intrude into fields they don't understand. But outright dishonest "scientists" need to mind their own business too.


Your roommate doesn't strike me as dishonest so much as a poor debater. Both of you believe things and don't know why they're true. Since you apparently can't participate in a useful dialectic with this guy, you should seek out someone who you can learn something from. Perhaps someone with a degree in ethics, although you'd likely get schooled by this person. Then again, isn't that a good thing? :P

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Makri » Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:26 pm UTC

Consciousness and free will may well be illusions.


I just can't resist the urge to point out that consciousness being an illusion strikes me as a completely incoherent idea. ;)
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby drewster1829 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:14 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I agree that scientists don't need philosophy to do science, but science needs philosophy in order for anyone to care about it. From science's point of view (if I may anthropomorphize for a moment), the job of philosophy is to direct people to science for answers to questions about the physical world, and defend science from those who would attack it. Which I'd say is pretty useful to science, and thus to the scientists who practice it.


I agree with this, but I must add something to it...not only does science need philosophy in order for anyone to care about it and to direct people to science for answers to questions about the physical world as you say, but philosophy is also needed to know which questions to ask in the first place. We use philosophy to give our individual lives and society meaning and goals, then use science to help accomplish those goals or various sub-goals.

I would argue that science wasn't nearly as important to individuals prior to the Industrial Revolution than it has been since because the idea of progress wasn't nearly as widely accepted before then as it is now. People believed in cycles and seasons (my opinion, anyway) and didn't care as much about technological or societal progress as we do now, at least in Western civilization. To me, this has led to an increasing emphasis and focus on science (which accelerates technological progress recursively) and very rapid changes in our daily lives, as compared to prior to the Industrial Revolution.

Amaroq wrote:As if his metaphysics and epistemology aren't screwed up enough, his ethics and politics are completely monstrous. Utilitarianism, egalitarianism, complete and utter unconditional nonviolence. His standard for judging value is not his own life, but an unbiased, neutral perspective of the universe from outside himself in which the judgment is simple: One human life < two or more human lives. His ethics proclaims that any one person should be willing to die before defending himself against any other person.


Objectivism certainly does have some strong points, but I wouldn't argue against utilitarianism. Rather, what your roommate describes ("strict" utilitarianism?) I find rather distasteful because not only does it justify hurting or killing some for the sake of saving a greater number of others, it also corresponds across time-scales: i.e., it's better to kill 100,000 people now if it saves 10,000,000 people in the future. I find rule utilitarianism, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is the same as utilitarianism, but with rules such as no killing any innocent person, regardless of the justification, a bit easier to swallow.

I never did like Kant, as he seemed too absolute and strict in the way he viewed duty, and I honestly think that someone doing their duty will get something out of it (i.e., I don't think there's a such thing as "duty for duty's sake," as Kant did...I think that any motivation to do one's duty benefits the individual, even if that individual has a gun to his head...the motivation is to avoid death, in that case. No one does anything without motivation, including duty, IMO). One major flaw I see with any sort of utilitarianism, though, is the measure of utility. How do we measure utility/happiness? Even individuals are very unlikely to do what makes them happy. Look at how people try to do things to make themselves happy, then end up unhappy in spite of, or even due to, there actions? Anyway, I digress...



Makri wrote:I just can't resist the urge to point out that consciousness being an illusion strikes me as a completely incoherent idea. ;)


Don't worry, I find the non-existence concept of after death (in other words, assume there is no afterlife or soul or anything after death) equally incoherent. :P
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Makri » Wed Dec 16, 2009 8:13 pm UTC

drewster1928 wrote:I find rule utilitarianism, which I think (correct me if I'm wrong) is the same as utilitarianism, but with rules such as no killing any innocent person, regardless of the justification, a bit easier to swallow.


Act utilitarianism looks at the effect of individual actions. Rule utilitarianism looks at the effects of a rule's being followed and tells you to follow a utility-maximizing rule set. I'm not sure whether that's what you meant to say.
The problem is that rule utilitarianism, on a closer look, comes at least very close to act utilitarianism: your rules can be stated disjunctively, and thus in effect have exceptions. And on what basis could one exclude such formulations? Also, it's not clear at which level of abstractions the rules have to be states (this, by the way, is also a serious problems with Kant's maxims).

Don't worry, I find the non-existence concept of after death (in other words, assume there is no afterlife or soul or anything after death) equally incoherent.


How's that incoherent... ?
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby enjoyeverysandwich42 » Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:38 pm UTC

There's no such thing as free will.

Objective reality is a myth.

The problem of induction has not been solved to any acceptable degree. All empirical observations are fundamentally unsound.


Some things that wouldn't be clear without having studied philosophy - and some things that in no way affect the day to day operations of anything. :)

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby jakovasaur » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:06 pm UTC

enjoyeverysandwich42 wrote:There's no such thing as free will.

Objective reality is a myth.

The problem of induction has not been solved to any acceptable degree. All empirical observations are fundamentally unsound.


Some things that wouldn't be clear without having studied philosophy - and some things that in no way affect the day to day operations of anything. :)

By god, man, publish the arguments you used to support these conclusions, because you are the greatest philosopher ever! To have settled these matters is a truly momentous achievement. Alas, if only lesser intellects like Plato, Locke, Descartes, Kant, and Hume had possessed your formidable skill and discerning eye, we could have been freed from philosophical uncertainty far sooner! Try not to look down on them too much, though, because this stuff is confusing for such simpletons.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Shackleton » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:29 pm UTC

Ok, a little history:
Philosophy=====>Philosophy ===============>Philosophy
.....................Natural Philosophy=========>Science

You're our myopic child.

Respect your elders and betters.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby JWalker » Wed Dec 16, 2009 10:34 pm UTC

Shackleton wrote:Respect your elders and betters.


Respect the ones with the nuclear weapons.

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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:38 pm UTC

JWalker wrote:I suppose this is where I disagree with you. I look around at my science colleagues and I see people who have (knowingly or otherwise) adopted an astonishingly varied philosophy of science, on which there is frequently very little common ground. The only reason scientific discussions don't devolve into a heated philosophy debate is because we have mathematics to fall back on (please don't start telling me about the philosophy of math).

That attitude of "lets fall back on mathematics [or observation, etc] to resolve this dispute" is exactly the common ground I speak of. A young-earth creationist or someone else similarly anti-scientific would not just agree "oh right, yeah, lets just do an experiment/calculate/etc and that'll tell us the answer". You'd first have to convince him that that is the correct way of finding the answer, and in doing that, you'd be doing philosophy. This is why I say philosophy is not so useful to scientists as such, since they're dealing primarily with other scientists and any philosophical differences between them are trivial enough to ignore since they all agree enough to at least all be doing science together. But in the interface between scientists and the rest of the world, philosophy is indispensable.

I wonder how the field of philosophy is relevant to science when those who practice science pay no attention to it and do not need to. You may say that all of these people are using philosophy themselves, and you would be right, but I do not see how that makes philosophy relevant to science.

Philosophy is relevant to science the same way that science is relevant to engineering. Engineers don't need to be scientists per se, they (usually) don't need to care about the ongoing debate about the minutia of this or that scientific theory, because there's enough consensus between the competing scientific positions for the engineers to get their work done. If I'm building a bridge, I don't need to worry about whether Newtonian physics accurately predicts the orbit of Mercury; it accurately predicts whether this bridge will stand or fall and that's all that matters to me. Nevertheless, engineers are still building off of groundwork laid by science. Likewise, scientists don't need to be philosophers per se, they (usually) don't need to care about the ongoing debate about the minutia of this or that philosophical theory, because there's enough consensus (amongst the science-minded at least) between the competing philosophical positions for the scientists to get their work done. Nevertheless, scientists are still building off of groundwork laid by philosophy.
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Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby phlip » Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:56 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Philosophy is relevant to science the same way that science is relevant to engineering. Engineers don't need to be scientists per se, they (usually) don't need to care about the ongoing debate about the minutia of this or that scientific theory, because there's enough consensus between the competing scientific positions for the engineers to get their work done. If I'm building a bridge, I don't need to worry about whether Newtonian physics accurately predicts the orbit of Mercury; it accurately predicts whether this bridge will stand or fall and that's all that matters to me. Nevertheless, engineers are still building off of groundwork laid by science.
Likewise, scientists don't need to be philosophers per se, they (usually) don't need to care about the ongoing debate about the minutia of this or that philosophical theory, because there's enough consensus (amongst the science-minded at least) between the competing philosophical positions for the scientists to get their work done. Nevertheless, scientists are still building off of groundwork laid by philosophy.

Best analogy ever.

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fractal
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Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 11:59 pm UTC

Re: "Revolutionary" Discussion

Postby fractal » Thu Dec 17, 2009 12:09 am UTC

This comic motivated me to register and post, as well.

Anyway, here's a question for the Philosopher/Scientist/Engineer analogy. It seems clear that as Science makes "progress", better engineering will be possible (faster computers, cleaner energy, etc - real tangible benefits for living humans, that couldn't be done without that improved Science). So, Philosophy-people, can Philosophy claim the same thing? Clearly our current Philosophy of Science is important for how Science operates, but is there room for Philosophy to progress, allowing for better Science in the future, that wouldn't be possible otherwise?

I don't really know what better Science would look like, but we can certainly find worse Science (advancements shelved because the existing religion didn't like them, that sort of thing). So maybe better Science "progresses" more quickly for a given amount of effort/manpower. Maybe better Science could also allow us to apply scientific techniques to more fields of study (thus in turn allowing the engineers to get to work).

I'm a PhD student in Economics, btw.


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