Author Topic: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?  (Read 2850 times)

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Offline relativetruth

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Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« on: September 16, 2012, 01:20:57 PM »
The link below is for a debate between philosopher Julian Baggini and theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/sep/09/science-philosophy-debate-julian-baggini-lawrence-krauss

Some quotes I find interesting.
All bolding in quotes is my bolding.

Quote from: Julian Baggini
I do wonder whether science hasn't suffered from a little mission creep of late.

The role of science as I see it is to explain (as best as possible) how nature works. And by 'nature' I mean everything that is conceivable AND that which is not.

Philosophy can ONLY cover that which is conceivable.

In the 'Treatise of Human Nature' Hume spoke on the indivisibility of space and time. Planck explored some of the same topics and even though they came to similar conclusions I find the science explanation more appealing.

Quote from: Julian Baggini
But there are some issues of human existence that just aren't scientific. I cannot see how mere facts could ever settle the issue of what is morally right or wrong, for example.


Yes but what are 'morals'. Science works with what is definable and then a testing methodology which should be largely independent of individual human bias.

Quote from: Lawrence Krauss
Take homosexuality, for example. Iron age scriptures might argue that homosexuality is "wrong", but scientific discoveries about the frequency of homosexual behaviour in a variety of species tell us that it is completely natural in a rather fixed fraction of populations and that it has no apparent negative evolutionary impacts. This surely tells us that it is biologically based, not harmful and not innately "wrong".

Again what are 'morals'. What are the priorities? Should an individual do firstly what is best for himself then his family, his town , his country, his religion, humanity, all living creatures, the universe, etc. Or is there some other order for these.

It is not that Science has NO answers to these questions it is just that Science has a different way, compared to philosophy or religion, of explaining the conclusions.

Quote from: Lawrence Krauss
I admit I am pleased that you agree that "why is there something rather than nothing" is a question best addressed by scientists. But I claim more generally that the only meaningful "why" questions are really "how" questions. Do you agree?

Philosophy uses human language to observe, define, describe, analyse and resolve events.
Science can use technology to 'observe' nature and then use logic to explain what is seen. A model is then produced with which a theory can be tested.
Philosophy produces no predictions which can be tested independently.

Science can answer the question "Why do we have morals?" by showing HOW evolution selected individuals with our values (do not kill people like us etc..) which meant the group survived long enough to breed.

I don't know how philosophy answers that question.

Also how does philosophy explain Quantum Mechanics?
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 01:24:07 PM by relativetruth »
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Offline Dominic

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 01:41:58 PM »

My 2 cents worth -

They don't need to be opponents (philosophy and science).

Science deals with the objective.  Philosophy deals more with the subjective.

So for example people's thoughts, feelings and wishes will be dealt with best by philosophy because these things are personal to one human and cannot be verified in any detail by science.

Both science and philosophy can attempt to answer some of the big questions.


Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 02:10:55 PM »
The BIG QUESTION is "why"?

Neither philosophy nor science can answer that to everyone's satisfaction.
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Offline relativetruth

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2012, 02:16:36 PM »

They don't need to be opponents (philosophy and science).


I am not saying that they are opponents. Philosophy and Mathematics use a similar approach in that they both start with a few assumptions/axioms  (the base facts) and then use logic as proof to derive further facts.

Science uses observations (machine based or otherwise) and then uses Mathematics to reverse-engineer and explain how those observations may have come about.

It is not that Philosophy is wrong it is just that it has been largely superseded by science as a means to explain our world.

Just because Einstein's theories superseded those of Newton does not mean that Newton was wrong.
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Offline relativetruth

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2012, 02:18:02 PM »
The BIG QUESTION is "why"?

Neither philosophy nor science can answer that to everyone's satisfaction.

Why does there have to be a "why"?
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Online One Above All

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2012, 02:18:17 PM »
The BIG QUESTION is "why"?

Neither philosophy nor science can answer that to everyone's satisfaction.

Why what? Without proper context, that's an incomplete question.
Also, just because neither can answer it to everyone's satisfaction doesn't mean neither can answer it. Just pointing that out.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 02:23:11 PM by One Above All »
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Offline none

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2012, 02:18:37 PM »
There was an Australian philosopher in this century, and I forget his name, that said science is just as equally valid as theology and meta-physics and what not.
I couldn't find a logical argument against it.
I am looking for the link to the wiki article.

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2012, 02:20:59 PM »
<snip>
I couldn't find a logical argument against it.

Science produces results.
Science is based on reality.
Science works using the scientific method, which is one of the best if not the best method known to man.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline none

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2012, 02:25:00 PM »
<snip>
I couldn't find a logical argument against it.

Science produces results.
Science is based on reality.
Science works using the scientific method, which is one of the best if not the best method known to man.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
yeah well, I am looking for the link.

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Offline Shandi

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2012, 03:01:06 PM »
"Why" means having a purpose. What purpose does a universe have? Why is not the right question, it should be how. People have purposes that lead their actions, there´s no purpose in a rock, he´s just there.
It´s an easier approach to ask how we did come to existence then why we did.
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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2012, 03:12:42 PM »
Science produces results.
Philosophy produces results e.g. ethical systems.

Quote
Science is based on reality.
Philosophy (ontology) provides the definition of reality. Or realities. Epistemology defines the extent we can know reality. Or realities. Once philosophy has defined these limits, science can get to work.   

Quote
Science works using the scientific method, which is one of the best if not the best method known to man.
1. The scientific method is defined by philosophers. 
2. The scientific method relies heavily on the use of logic, which is a branch of philosophy.

Quote
I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
I hope I've made mine. Science and philosophy are interlinked and  complementary, both necessary to understanding life, the universe and everything.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 04:15:17 PM by Gnu Ordure »

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2012, 03:15:07 PM »
<snip>
I hope I've made mine. Science and philosophy are interlinked and  complementary, both necessary to understanding life, the universe and everything.

You have. However, if you read the part I snipped (my mistake for not including it), you'll see that the philosopher spoke of theology and meta-physics, both of which produce no results[1], are incredibly flawed, et cetera.
 1. AFAIK.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 03:34:25 PM by One Above All »
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

A.K.A.: Blaziken/Lucifer/All In One/Orion.

Offline none

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2012, 03:33:47 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemological_anarchism
Quote
Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.[1]

The use of the term anarchism in the name reflected the methodological pluralism prescription of the theory; as the purported scientific method does not have a monopoly on truth or useful results, the pragmatic approach is a Dadaistic "anything goes" attitude toward methodologies.[1] The theory advocates treating science as an ideology alongside others such as religion, magic and mythology, and considers the dominance of science in society authoritarian and unjustified.[1] Promulgation of the theory earned Feyerabend the title of “the worst enemy of science” from his detractors.[2]
there.

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2012, 04:46:23 PM »
I hope I've made mine. Science and philosophy are interlinked and  complementary, both necessary to understanding life, the universe and everything.
You have. However, if you read the part I snipped (my mistake for not including it), you'll see that the philosopher spoke of theology and meta-physics, both of which produce no results (AFAIK), are incredibly flawed, et cetera.

Well, theology also produces results, with respect to ethical systems. And since religion is ubiquitous in human history, it's reasonable to conclude that it was adaptive in our evolution. We wouldn't be here without it. Don't knock it.  :)

As regards metaphysics, I guess it would depend on your definition - some people regard metaphysical as synonymous with supernatural. But Wiki says it's a branch of philosophy (and it mentions ontology, as I did, yay):
Quote
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. <snip>

The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e.g., existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to each other. Another central branch of metaphysics is cosmology, the study of the totality of all phenomena within the universe.

So metaphysics, by that definition, produces results too.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 04:49:26 PM by Gnu Ordure »

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2012, 04:53:27 PM »
Well, theology also produces results, with respect to ethical systems. And since religion is ubiquitous in human history, it's reasonable to conclude that it was adaptive in our evolution. We wouldn't be here without it. Don't knock it.  :)

We have very different understandings of the word "results". Creating an ethical system out of thin air[1] isn't results.

As regards metaphysics, I guess it would depend on your definition - some people regard metaphysical as synonymous with supernatural. But Wiki says it's a branch of philosophy (and it mentions ontology, as I did, yay):
<snip>
So metaphysics, by that definition, produces results too.

My definition of metaphysics is based on my analysis of the term: meta (beyond) physics. AKA supernatural, as you mentioned. By the definition provided on Wikipedia, it does indeed produce results, although by that definition we might as well call it science AFAIC.
 1. Not literally, but I hope you get the point.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline none

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2012, 05:00:31 PM »
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemological_anarchism
Quote
Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.[1]

The use of the term anarchism in the name reflected the methodological pluralism prescription of the theory; as the purported scientific method does not have a monopoly on truth or useful results, the pragmatic approach is a Dadaistic "anything goes" attitude toward methodologies.[1] The theory advocates treating science as an ideology alongside others such as religion, magic and mythology, and considers the dominance of science in society authoritarian and unjustified.[1] Promulgation of the theory earned Feyerabend the title of “the worst enemy of science” from his detractors.[2]
there.
hell I don't know, but I can say that religion and I would guess that means meta-physics goes along with the reality that both are harmful to society and that doesn't disprove the argument.
does it?

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2012, 05:08:52 PM »
Well, theology also produces results, with respect to ethical systems. And since religion is ubiquitous in human history, it's reasonable to conclude that it was adaptive in our evolution. We wouldn't be here without it. Don't knock it.  :)
We have very different understandings of the word "results". Creating an ethical system out of thin air, isn't results.

Sure it is. Religions such as Christianity and Islam focus on the difference between good and evil. God vs the Devil. They are morality plays. The practical result of the drama is a code of conduct, an ethical system for society.

And history reveals that societies benefitted from having a religion-based ethical system, even though that system may have been built on nonsense. Any system of right and wrong was better than no system.

As regards metaphysics, I guess it would depend on your definition - some people regard metaphysical as synonymous with supernatural. But Wiki says it's a branch of philosophy (and it mentions ontology, as I just did, yay):

Quote
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world,[1] although the term is not easily defined. <snip>

The metaphysician attempts to clarify the fundamental notions by which people understand the world, e.g., existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. A central branch of metaphysics is ontology, the investigation into the basic categories of being and how they relate to each other. Another central branch of metaphysics is cosmology, the study of the totality of all phenomena within the universe.

So metaphysics, by that definition, produces results too.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 05:28:58 PM by Gnu Ordure »

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2012, 05:12:36 PM »
Sure it is. Religions such as Christianity and Islam focus on the difference between good and evil. God vs the Devil. They are morality plays. The practical result of the drama is a code of conduct, an ethical system for society.

And history reveals that societies benefitted from having a religion-based ethical system, even though that system may have been built on nonsense. Any system of right and wrong was better than no system.

I know I suck at history, but I'm fairly certain most, if not all, the major atrocities in history happened because of religion. Once again, we have a different definition of a term. In this case it's the term "better".
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #19 on: September 16, 2012, 05:26:39 PM »
Sure it is. Religions such as Christianity and Islam focus on the difference between good and evil. God vs the Devil. They are morality plays. The practical result of the drama is a code of conduct, an ethical system for society.

And history reveals that societies benefitted from having a religion-based ethical system, even though that system may have been built on nonsense. Any system of right and wrong was better than no system.

I know I suck at history, but I'm fairly certain most, if not all, the major atrocities in history happened because of religion.

And without religion, we'd still be living in the jungle with our primate cousins.

Quote
Once again, we have a different definition of a term. In this case it's the term "better".
You'd prefer to live in the jungle?  :)

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #20 on: September 16, 2012, 05:33:15 PM »
Sure it is. Religions such as Christianity and Islam focus on the difference between good and evil. God vs the Devil. They are morality plays. The practical result of the drama is a code of conduct, an ethical system for society.

And history reveals that societies benefitted from having a religion-based ethical system, even though that system may have been built on nonsense. Any system of right and wrong was better than no system.

I know I suck at history, but I'm fairly certain most, if not all, the major atrocities in history happened because of religion.

And without religion, we'd still be living in the jungle with our primate cousins.

Quote
Once again, we have a different definition of a term. In this case it's the term "better".
You'd prefer to live in the jungle?  :)
where does the jungle end?

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2012, 05:54:05 PM »
And without religion, we'd still be living in the jungle with our primate cousins.

What are you saying here? Are you claiming that our technological progress would not have been possible without religion? Are you claiming that a belief in the supernatural is more responsible for our technological progress than practical experimentation and reason?

Offline Gnu Ordure

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2012, 07:06:39 PM »
And without religion, we'd still be living in the jungle with our primate cousins.

What are you saying here? Are you claiming that our technological progress would not have been possible without religion?
Sure. In the sense that religion was necessary for our development from 40,000 years ago. It kept us going; it was adaptive. It was the foundation for the recent development of technology and science in the last two thousand years.

Why do you ask? 
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 08:30:52 PM by Gnu Ordure »

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2012, 08:44:29 PM »
I ask because I find it difficult to believe that our technological development was based on a belief in the supernatural rather than reason, observation of the natural world and practical experimentation. Are you claiming this as a fact or is it just your opinion? If you are claiming this as a fact then please prove it. Please show me some sound evidence to prove that religion was necessary for us to advance technologically and wasn’t just a coincident, natural by-product of the evolution of our brains. Please show me that religion was the foundation for our technological development more so than reason, practical experimentation or the scientific method.

Offline Mr. Blackwell

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2012, 09:32:20 PM »
Man's first attempt at explaining what they observed around them gave birth to Religion. Our first hypothesis. It was a necessary first step on our journey.
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Offline relativetruth

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2012, 04:16:24 AM »
Man's first attempt at explaining what they observed around them gave birth to Religion. Our first hypothesis. It was a necessary first step on our journey.

Religion meant that larger groups of individuals could be established and that the leader of the tribe did not have to be the biggest and the strongest.
 
The older and wiser of the community could claim links to higher powers which gave them the authority to assert more control.
As society became larger and more complex it needed more rules to govern behavior.

Religion provided the infra-structure for compliance.
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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #26 on: September 17, 2012, 04:21:01 AM »
Man's first attempt at explaining what they observed around them gave birth to Religion. Our first hypothesis. It was a necessary first step on our journey.

Religion meant that larger groups of individuals could be established and that the leader of the tribe did not have to be the biggest and the strongest.
 
The older and wiser of the community could claim links to higher powers which gave them the authority to assert more control.
As society became larger and more complex it needed more rules to govern behavior.

Religion provided the infra-structure for compliance.
this works in a society that needs superiors and subordinates.

Offline relativetruth

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #27 on: September 17, 2012, 04:23:24 AM »
^^^^
What other society exists?
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Offline none

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Re: Philosophy v science: which can answer the big questions of life?
« Reply #28 on: September 17, 2012, 04:25:32 AM »
^^^^
What other society exists?
The society that exists between two human beings like you and I.