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Old 25th August 2019, 04:47 PM   #523
Penultimate Amazing
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 12,473
Let's recap first.

My initial rather modest claim was that the philosophy of science could at least have a peripheral role that when scientists with to discuss things like reductionism with respect to their scientific work then philosophy can help define terms and suggest provisional hypotheses with respect to them. I gave two examples of this.

Some suggested that scientists never discuss things like reductionism so I gave an example of two significant scientists, Ernst Mayr and Steven Weinberg debating reductionism in the pages of Nature. I also gave other examples of Steven Weinberg discussing reductionism and saying that it was an important concept in science.

So I think it is safe to say that my first claim is reasonably supported. Note that if you are going to say that Weinberg and Mayr are wrong and that the concept of reductionism has no importance to science, then you are also engaging in a discussion about reductionism and science and you would also be in need of a definition of a term which has a wide range of meanings.

My second claim was that the philosophy of science is part and parcel of the scientific method and I was asked to expand.

I chose to give the example of the debate between the major physicists involved in the development of quantum physics - Einstein, Schrodinger, Bohr and others. I showed that this was a) a philosophical debate in the strictest sense of the word and b) was influential in the way the theory developed.

Again I think the case has been reasonably made for my second claim, I haven't heard any substantial objections to that argument.

Finally I was asked to substantiate a claim that I hadn't made, which is slightly unusual but since I know of at least one hypothesis where the scientist who formulated them explicitly says that an alteration in an accepted definition in the philosophy of science was necessary for this to happen, so I will do that in my next post.
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
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