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Old 25th August 2019, 12:04 AM   #521
David Mo
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post

So show me how #1 and #2 are true. Please tell me:

1. What part of the discussion did philosophy make a key contribution to, and what was that contribution?

2. In what way exactly did this subset of that discussion, this contribution of philosophy, contribute to QM, and to what within QM?
Question 1 has been answered more than twice: opening up the possibility of changing the principles of classical physics. The same scientists who did it say so.

The second question is wrong: why should philosophy provide any knowledge in quantum mechanics? Are we talking about knowledge or interepretations? If this distinction is not clarified, you will continue to raise the question badly.
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Old 25th August 2019, 04:00 PM   #522
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I've started a thread on Donald Huffman's "Interface Theory of Perception," which proposes that our perceptions do not construct reality in any way accurately, because such veridical perception cannot evolve. That implies that the reality we perceive isn't real, and that actual reality could be something completely different. Our perceptions and mental models don't "reconstruct" real objects, space, and time, but instead "constructs" them. Objects may or may not even exist when we're not looking at them.

That allows me to make a point relevant to this thread: Huffman's theory could be just another in a long succession of navel-gazing "reality isn't real" philosophical speculations. It might seem that this would be an example of a philosophy of science potentially contributing to our understanding of nature.

But it's really the other way around. What makes Huffman's work interesting is not his speculations about reality, but the fact that he actually tested a testable proposition: that (simulated) evolution of (simulated) perception would lead to veridical (simulated) perception because that would be a competitive advantage. The results of that experiment suggests otherwise: that veridical perception is selected against. If the results hold generally (I don't think they will, but that's not the point), it would instead be the next in a long line of scientific findings that have greatly contributed to our understanding of philosophy.

The point of my earlier question about quantum mechanics and the nature of reality is that yes, sure, philosophers can speculate and argue about the answers to such questions. But they have no process for coming to any agreement, so they can't produce reliable answers to those questions. Where we have been able to agree on answers, it's because scientists have been able to do experiments and make observations.
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Old 25th August 2019, 04:47 PM   #523
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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.
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Old 25th August 2019, 04:49 PM   #524
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So the question was:
Quote:
Can you point to any actual instance, in recent times, where the philosophy of science has led to the formulation and/or the acceptance (or rejection) of some hypothesis, in a way that wouldn't have been possible without bringing in philosophy of science? Some concrete example of the utility of the philosophy of science, not just general opinions of individual scientists?
And Chanakya concedes that I never claimed there were any such examples. However here is an example I know of:

Background, Ernst May in his 1961 essay "Cause and effect in biology" in Science pointed out that the conceptions of causality found in mainstream philosophy and he set out the ways that causality operates in biology, in particular that biology describes two kinds of causes, the proximate and the ultimate and that research will focus on one or the other and that it is a mistake to conflate the two.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/77a...da3618c22a.pdf

Kevin Laland wrote a paper in 2011, also in Science called "Cause and Effect in Biology Revisited: Is Mayrís Proximate-Ultimate Dichotomy Still Useful?"

https://lalandlab.st-andrews.ac.uk/f...uller_2011.pdf
In this he points out that this distinction does not necessary hold for certain kinds of research:
Quote:
Mayrís unidirectional characterization of causation encourages focus on single cause/effect relations within systems rather than on broader trends, feedback cycles, or the tracing of causal influences throughout systems (8, 9, 17).It may also hinder the empirical investigation of evolutionary causes if the role of proximate processes goes unrecognized. This has consequences not only for biologistsí ability to break new ground and integrate subfields within biology, but also influences biologistsí view on how their discipline is connected to other sciences, including the humanities. The fact that humans (and other animals) learn culturally is indeed part of their proximate biology, but it is also an aspect of our evolutionary biology. The biological sciences might now be better served by a new ďreciprocalĒ conception of causation.
Cultural learning is the focus of one of his own hypotheses and he has described this and the series of experiments he undertook to support it in his book "Darwin's Unfinished Symphony".

Briefly his hypothesis is that the cultural behaviours of teaching and learning influenced the late stage human evolution and that these evolved from earlier copying behaviours in which the copying had evolved to become more and more precise. He has also hypothesised that the difference between human teaching and learning behaviour and that of our closest relatives is that we can successfully employ co-operation in learning.

So here we have a case where a scientist has argued the need for a science philosophic concept to be updated in order for certain kinds of hypotheses to be made and also has been the author of one such hypothesis.
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Old 25th August 2019, 05:08 PM   #525
Robin
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
The point of my earlier question about quantum mechanics and the nature of reality is that yes, sure, philosophers can speculate and argue about the answers to such questions. But they have no process for coming to any agreement, so they can't produce reliable answers to those questions.
At the time quantum theory was being developed the majority of philosophers of science also felt that speculations about "reality" were meaningless philosophic navel-gazing. They called these "pseudo-problems".

It wasn't the full-time philsophers who were worrying about whether physics really was describing reality.

The "philosophers" who had these "navel gazing" discussions of which you disapprove were the same scientists that developed the theory, Planck, Einstein, Schrodinger, Bohr and others and these discussion had real implications about the way the theory developed.
Quote:
Where we have been able to agree on answers, it's because scientists have been able to do experiments and make observations.
And why do you think that this is a point against the philosophy of science? The "navel-gazing" by the major scientists of the 20th century was the process that led to the design of many of those experiments.

But if you do not care whether or not physics is describing "reality" then the Copenhagen Interpretation is fine. As Bohr said, who cares if the Moon is there or not when no-one is observing it, you couldn't possibly test that anyway.

Spooky action at a distance is only "spooky" if you have in intuition that physics is describing "reality" or some version of it that you are expected there to be. Otherwise it is quite uncontroversial.

There is no measurement problem unless you are making the assumption that there really is a Universe.

But physicists like to think that they really are describing reality. Hence the continuing discomfort with the Copenhagen Interpretation.
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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"

Last edited by Robin; 25th August 2019 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 25th August 2019, 09:24 PM   #526
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Basically Hoffman's theory is a prime example of science which seems to follow the scientific method but is basically nonsense because he hasn't thought clearly about whether the hypothesis is meaningful in the first place.
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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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Old 3rd September 2019, 09:41 PM   #527
ehhz
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
It would make happy a subjectivist like Feyerabend who defended the lack of definition between science and pseudoscience. But I doubt very much that it will be accepted by all scientists.
Where may I read up on this Feyerabend, outside of an encyclopedia? Why is he regarded as a subjectivist?
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Old 9th September 2019, 12:26 PM   #528
David Mo
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Originally Posted by ehhz View Post
Where may I read up on this Feyerabend, outside of an encyclopedia? Why is he regarded as a subjectivist?
Try this one:

https://www.marxists.org/reference/s...e/feyerabe.htm

Don't be frightened by the page. It's a good summary
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