Science and Philosophy

For the serious discussion of weighty matters and worldly issues. No off-topic posts allowed.

Moderators: Azrael, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 10, 2014 12:17 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:You pointed out how the identity of bricks is irrelevant, and lumped songs in with them. I pointed out that the identity of songs is relevant because IP law is a thing.
I think songs may have been a not great example then, as the individual identity of individual songs, as individual bricks, is irrelevant. The value of the song I buy for a buck is a buck. The value of the same song you've downloaded illegally is a buck. For the purposes of ascertaining their value, my song and your song are identical. That's why I pointed out they were fungible. But...
gmalivuk wrote:I never claimed that questions about song identity should be answered in the same way as questions about personal identity. I'm only claiming that questions about both cannot be answered empirically, and that questions about both are quite relevant to our lives.

How much, and in what ways, can two things differ before they should be considered differrent songs or different persons?

That is a philosophical and legal question, not a scientific one.
Sure, agreed. I consider consciousness to be a good starting place to start claiming individuality between two different clones. I agree with you that it is, however, largely a philosophical and legal question.
gmalivuk wrote:Again, we don't care about which brick is the original because we don't care about bricks in the first place. I could send the original to its destruction before cloning it with no more objection than if I do that to one copy afterwards. What if instead of a brick it was the Mona Lisa, though? Or something else with historical or sentimental value? I'd wager people would have pretty strong opinions in that case.
I find that curious; my initial sentiment is you could make a million clones of the Mona Lisa and send all of them into an incinerator for all I care; they aren't suffering, and the net result is still a copy of the Mona Lisa. I think the point you were trying to make is that there is an object(s) for which the sentimental value is high enough that people wouldn't want even the clones destroyed? Personally, I can't think of any objects for which this holds true. Since objects can't feel pain, as long as there is one such object remaining, do whatever you want to the duplicates. Which is why I feel consciousness is the important thing here; the ability to feel is what's at stake, as the 'object' is then an active participant in the thought experiment.

Take for example, a clone-o-matic; you place an object in the machine and push a button. The door closes, and 5 minutes later, opens, revealing a single version of the object, perhaps moved around a bit. Which hypothetical to you take issue with;
1 ) The machine closes the door, jiggles the object a bit, then opens the door.
2 ) The machine closes the door, makes a clone of the object, violently destroys the clone, then opens the door and reveals the original.
3 ) The machine closes the door, makes a clone of the object, violently destroys the original, then opens the door and reveals the clone.

Personally, I'm equally indifferent to all three scenarios. Replace 'object' with 'conscious being', and scenario 2 and 3 are suddenly extremely cringeworthy.

But I'm not sure why you're pointing out that these questions still exist when you remove consciousness from the equation. Of course they still exist, they just cease being particularly interesting questions. And yes, the answers are still to be had primarily via ethics/philosophy/law. I've largely agreed with you that these are philosophical/ethical/legal questions, not scientific ones.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 10, 2014 1:33 pm UTC

Forget about digitally identical copies of the song. IP law also covers things like parodies and covers and new performances of copyrighted sheet music. Some of those things are "the same song" and others aren't. And different artists performing of Beethoven's 9th are not fungible.

And my point about the Mona Lisa or sentimental objects is that many people would start to place great i portance on whether the clone or the original is destroyed. It may not be relevant *to you*, but it would be to many people.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 10, 2014 2:47 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:It isn't a guarantee that science will answer it. As mentioned before, making perfect duplicates of people may not even be possible in the real world. But people are eager to proclaim that science cannot answer it. In fact, people are eager to carve out domains where science cannot go, so they think. Religion is perhaps the most notable of these. Really, though, what is there to prevent a religion from being tested scientifically? So it goes with basically anything else.

Well, one criterion that you see a lot is that scientific theories ought to be verifiable or falsifiable by empirical evidence. If a claim doesn't imply any empirical predictions, that's often seen as reason to dismiss it as a scientific theory. Given that things are dismissed as scientific for this reason, I don't know why we should think that "basically anything" can be tested scientifically. Especially when gmal has several times failed to get even the vaguest outline of an answer to how scientific results could settle the teleporter identity question.


I have, in fact, just given potential results. They may be rather disappointing, but we do not know that the hypothetical situation is even possible. If it is, though, certainly we can test the process and results scientifically.

Tyndmyr wrote:Science, however, has fundamentally produced progress and useful knowledge by the bucketload. I see no reason to expect this to suddenly stop. Nor do I think it reasonable to expect that modern day people can predict all scientific developments in the far future.

Nobody here expects that scientific progress will stop or thinks that we can predict all scientific developments in the far future.


And obviously, this is a hinderance on our ability to predict the limits of science, yes?

Tyndmyr wrote:"You can't actually do it" would be a rather concrete potential answer that makes it...not an actual paradox. See also, travelling faster than C. If you assume that an individual is travelling faster than C, you get some wonky results...but in practice, it appears that doing this is simply not possible, so no paradox arises.

The teleporter question is not a paradox (i.e. a set of jointly contradictory, but individually highly plausible claims) nor does "You can't actually do it" answer it.


Pedantry aside, it would render the discussion practically meaningless, right? Well, as meaningless as it is today.

Tyndmyr wrote:In other words, Science gives us fairly concrete, fact based information, not fuzzy, subjective summaries akin to 'good' or 'bad'. This is not a bug, it is a feature.

You are simply assuming, without argument, that topics not investigated by science are "fuzzy," "subjective," and not "fact based."


No. That is not a necessary part of the argument. Science has not investigated all topics it can potentially investigate. Obviously.

Tyndmyr wrote:Nobody really seems to have a problem with any of these scenarios when they are not about a human. It's the whole "you" that seems to throw them for a loop somehow. The intrinsic belief that they are special somehow. Nobody worries about "which is the real chicken" if you have a hypothetical chicken duplication machine. They are both chickens. They are identical, save for location. They are both real. And now, we dine like kings. Why should people be any different?

Because humans, unlikely anything else we've come across, are persons, and personal identity raises philosophical questions that do not apply to chickens. gmal has already noted some of the ethical issues in this area, such as ownership. Since chickens don't own things, philosophical problems about ownership do not apply to them.


How about a monkey? Or a dog? Or whatever?

It seems to have one obvious outcome(two dogs that are identical except for location, but are seperate entities). And, conciousness is merely a result of an arrangement of physical things. It's not different from replicating a computer or a dog or anything else. Hell, conciousness is not even entirely binary. And replicating a sleeping person would be little different than replicating an awake one.

What about conciousness makes us special? I suspect this really gets down to a need in humanity to feel special. Which, probably, is a reason why people are bothered by the idea of identical copies of themselves.

As for how we should handle such a scenario legally, well...legality is not solely the domain of philosophy. Hardly. And legal issues can certainly exist for the duplication of things without even a hint of conciousness.

gmalivuk wrote:Tyn and Iz: Surely you don't object to the fact that, when a religion or pseudoscience makes claims that aren't empirically testable, we exclude those claims from the realm of science, right?


Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. Claims that DO influence the real world(prayer heals people!) can be tested. All of them, at least in principle. People go to heaven? Sure. This corpse is rotting here after death. Nope. Oh, you mean just PART of a human? Which part? A made up part that does not exist? Greaaaat. Then we're back to discussing things that do not actually exist. There's a word for this, and it's fiction.

Why then, when I ask a philosophical question which is by design every bit as empirically untestable, do you backpedal and assure me that I shouldn' t rule it out of the realm of science just yet?


Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**. There is nothing else. I cannot, obviously, state which it will be, because I cannot predict the future developments of science to this degree. However, the mere trend of progress is a very safe bet, and seems likely to continue, eventually revealing which it is, and if testable, it seems likely that folks will be interested in testing everything they can about teleportation/duplication.

*Consider the old philosophical stumper "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"...can you seriously imagine devoting significant time to such a question? The discovery of "To our best evidence, there are no angels" renders it meaningless, does it not?

**Obviously, there is a vast, vast gulf between what is testable in principle and what can be tested in practice. Stellar formation theories are testable in principle, if you have, yknow, giant clouds of gas and a lot of time, but practical limitations are significant. Unfortunately, not being able to predict future scientific developments means we are unable to predict which things exactly will transition from testable only in theory to testable in practice.

I'll ask again, is the sentence I'm writing the same sentence as the one you're reading? Is that a question science can answer? What empirical characteristics should we look for, in sentences, to determine whether one of them is the same as another? Is location important? Is medium?


Science can precisely describe the way in which the idea is communicated from you to me. There is no confusion there. The confusion only exists because you are simplifying to "the same", without defining what "the same" is. If we both understand "the same" to mean "the same concept", then yes. If it's "the same configuration of atoms", then no.

Ambiguity because of terms is not some unsolvable mystery, it's merely poor communication.

Izawwlgood wrote:Asking a scientist 'What is beauty?' should not surprisingly net you a non-scientific answer. Also not surprisingly, if the scientist says "I cannot answer that scientifically", you shouldn't conclude that science is a failed enterprise that needs artists/philosophers to conduct it's science. Which isn't to suggest is a trend that's wholly happening here, but then, it's certainly a trend I've seen elsewhere.


We could, of course, study what a given population finds beautiful, etc. I realize your point is tangental to this, but I think it's important to clarify that even this example only exists because people are looking for some etherial property underlying things that...isn't scientific at all. There is no property tagging a thing as beautiful or not beautiful. Beauty is an description by observers.

firechicago wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:But when someone insists that the Evil Demon does exist without any supporting evidence? When people declare that the hypothetical evil genius has us all hooked up to machines that feed us false information, and outside the vats is a magical fantasy land of physics we have no means of comprehending? That everything including our memories poofed into existence last Thursday? Science gets to call bullshit.

On what possible grounds?

This is a serious question. By definition we can not offer empirical evidence for the proposition that empirical evidence is reliable. Sure, we can rely on things like Occam's razor to insist that the proposition that our experiences are real is in some sense epistemically superior to the proposition that we are in the Matrix. But Occam's Razor isn't really an argument supported by science, it's more an axiom that science is based on.

Answering the radical epistemic skeptic ("how can we know anything?") is a whole sub-field of philosophy in its own right. Obviously no one really takes the radical skeptic's argument seriously, but how you answer that argument has important implications for how you think knowledge works, and insofar as science is a knowledge-generating enterprise, it has important implications for how science ought to work. And this is not a discussion that science really has anything to say about, because science itself is an important subject of the conversation, and using science to support science is inevitably circular.


Because science works. That's it, really. You can replicate it, and bam, as far as you can tell, it works. Oh sure, maybe it doesn't actually work, and some OTHER force is making everything react as if it does, but really, what difference exists between those theories? Nothing testable. In real terms, it doesn't matter. If we're all in a simulation, and gravity only works the way it does because someone coded it to...so what? Our knowledge still has predictive power, and is exactly as useful.

gmalivuk wrote:
CorruptUser wrote:But when someone insists that the Evil Demon does exist without any supporting evidence? When people declare that the hypothetical evil genius has us all hooked up to machines that feed us false information, and outside the vats is a magical fantasy land of physics we have no means of comprehending? That everything including our memories poofed into existence last Thursday? Science gets to call bullshit.
No, it doesn't.

Scientists may criticize that person for believing in useless untestable things with no practical bearing on the human experience, but the judgment that someone shouldn't believe such things is a fundamentally philosophical one.


Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?

Certainly not.

Izawwlgood wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:You're missing the fact that both bodies are still in comas. Duplicating a comatose body doesn't de-coma it, after all, unless location was the only reason it was in a coma in the first place.
I did indeed misunderstand then. The family can pull the plug on both comatose bodies. As should be no surprise to you, I feel consciousness is of the utmost relevance in discussions on individuality/self. Indefinitely not conscious, no self.


I note that this has interesting implications for unconciousness, sleeping, etc. I don't disagree, mind, but this leads rather inexoriably to self being a perception of your mind, which can be scientifically supported by rare disorders where this functionality is broken or damaged.

Obviously, if you duplicate a body, both bodies will have a sense of self, in the same way that they both have a left arm.

The fact that they are identical save for location does not mean they are the same. Seriously, this philosophical argument is like a holdover from sympathetic magic or something. It's like talking about if twins share a soul.

gmalivuk wrote:
morriswalters wrote:The problem is one of semantics and law, not philosophy.
"The problem is one of addition and subtraction, not arithmetic."


This may be the source of confusion and disagreement, now that I think about it. I do not view law as a subset of philosophy. Surely, philosophies influence law, but so do many, many other things. Most overtly, laws are about power and force and naked self interest. Not always, maybe, but quite a lot of the time.

I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 10, 2014 4:18 pm UTC

Can we stop with these sort of gotchas where we equate comas to taking a nap?
gmalivuk wrote:Forget about digitally identical copies of the song. IP law also covers things like parodies and covers and new performances of copyrighted sheet music. Some of those things are "the same song" and others aren't. And different artists performing of Beethoven's 9th are not fungible.

And my point about the Mona Lisa or sentimental objects is that many people would start to place great i portance on whether the clone or the original is destroyed. It may not be relevant *to you*, but it would be to many people.
You'll have to explain to me then what you're getting at with IP law and songs. Are you suggesting that individuality is intrinsic to the individual, and that when copied, the individual still has some kind of... sovereignty over those clones? Or that all clones of an individual have some kind of sovereignty over one another?

I directly addressed why consciousness is still important to this matter. Since you chided me for not responding properly to your posts, I think it's a little unreasonable that you've repeatedly ignored this portion of our conversation. Your point was that consciousness is not integral to the discussion of cloning, and I'm arguing it is. I concur that there may exist objects for which sentimentality changes the mental calculus of their importance for some people, but hold that A ) the sentimentality perhaps only applies to the 'original', or B ) I personally cannot apply such sentimentality to any object, for reasons I have previously listed.

As an aside, the teleporter/clone problem is interesting, and I enjoy discussing it, but it mostly stands as an underline to how philosophy problems cannot be solved scientifically. I don't think that's particularly compelling, other than to agree that philosophical issues are philosophical in nature, and scientific issues are scientific in nature.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 10, 2014 5:05 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Nobody here expects that scientific progress will stop or thinks that we can predict all scientific developments in the far future.
And obviously, this is a hinderance on our ability to predict the limits of science, yes?
No. Being unable to predict everything science will investigate in the future isn't the same as being unable to demonstrate that certain things are outside its purview.

Similarly, I have no idea what future problems will be addressed or solved using computers, but I can say with absolute certainty that there will never be a Turing-equivalent solution to the general Halting Problem.

What about conciousness makes us special? I suspect this really gets down to a need in humanity to feel special. Which, probably, is a reason why people are bothered by the idea of identical copies of themselves.

As for how we should handle such a scenario legally, well...legality is not solely the domain of philosophy. Hardly. And legal issues can certainly exist for the duplication of things without even a hint of conciousness.
Yes, that is the point I'm making. Together with the point that the definitional and ethical sides of legal issues are most definitely philosophical in nature.

Claims that DO influence the real world(prayer heals people!) can be tested. All of them, at least in principle.
What empirical test would you suggest for the claim, "The song you're playing is the one to which I own the copyright"?

Surely that claim is both meaningful and capable of influencing the real world, but I don't see how that makes it scientifically testable.


Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**. There is nothing else.
Except, of course, for all those moral, ethical, legal, and aesthetic claims people spend a lot of their time making.

There is no confusion there. The confusion only exists because you are simplifying to "the same", without defining what "the same" is. If we both understand "the same" to mean "the same concept", then yes. If it's "the same configuration of atoms", then no.

Ambiguity because of terms is not some unsolvable mystery, it's merely poor communication.
Then how should we define "the same" so that we have "good" communication? Whatever argument you use, you're ultimately going to be basing it on some fundamentally extrascientific value judgment.

Izawwlgood wrote:Asking a scientist 'What is beauty?' should not surprisingly net you a non-scientific answer. Also not surprisingly, if the scientist says "I cannot answer that scientifically", you shouldn't conclude that science is a failed enterprise that needs artists/philosophers to conduct it's science. Which isn't to suggest is a trend that's wholly happening here, but then, it's certainly a trend I've seen elsewhere.


We could, of course, study what a given population finds beautiful, etc. I realize your point is tangental to this, but I think it's important to clarify that even this example only exists because people are looking for some etherial property underlying things that...isn't scientific at all. There is no property tagging a thing as beautiful or not beautiful. Beauty is an description by observers.
But that doesn't mean it is literally meaningless to talk about beauty.

Oh sure, maybe it doesn't actually work, and some OTHER force is making everything react as if it does, but really, what difference exists between those theories? Nothing testable. In real terms, it doesn't matter. If we're all in a simulation, and gravity only works the way it does because someone coded it to...so what? Our knowledge still has predictive power, and is exactly as useful.
Your "so what" is a philosophical question, and people are entitled to answer it as they want, without any testable consequences one way or the other.

Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?

Certainly not.
Of course we can study the effects of a belief, but no empirical results from such a study get us the underlying value judgments about whether we should behave or believe a certain way. If you advise against some type of harm, you're implicitly judging that type of harm to be "worse" than any harm that comes from an alternate course of action.

This may be the source of confusion and disagreement, now that I think about it. I do not view law as a subset of philosophy. Surely, philosophies influence law, but so do many, many other things. Most overtly, laws are about power and force and naked self interest. Not always, maybe, but quite a lot of the time.
I mean that the questions of what laws should be or what the terms therein (should) mean are philosophical questions.

I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.
You've avoided discussing the actual philosophical question, in other words.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Wed Sep 10, 2014 6:37 pm UTC

I'll respond mainly to things that gmal has not...

Tyndmyr wrote:I have, in fact, just given potential results. They may be rather disappointing, but we do not know that the hypothetical situation is even possible. If it is, though, certainly we can test the process and results scientifically.

I'm not asking whether you could test the process and results scientifically. I'm asking whether science could answer the question "Is the person who came out of the teleporter the same person as the person who went into the teleporter?" Showing that science could say some other things about the experiment is dodging the question, not answering it.

Tyndmyr wrote:Pedantry aside, it would render the discussion practically meaningless, right? Well, as meaningless as it is today.

I'm not sure what you mean by "practically meaningless," especially since later you seem to use "meaningless" to refer to literally not having semantic meaning, as when a baby babbles. But if you're suggesting that the discussion is "practically meaningless" because there is no practical use for the results of that discussion, you're mistaken, because the conclusions we reach about personal identity are relevant to ethics, among other things.

Tyndmyr wrote:No. That is not a necessary part of the argument. Science has not investigated all topics it can potentially investigate. Obviously.

Then you are assuming without argument that topics that cannot potentially be investigated by science are "fuzzy," "subjective," and not "fact-based."

Tyndmyr wrote:Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. ... Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**.

Likewise, you simply assume without argument that claims that cannot be tested are meaningless. Why should I believe it? And isn't the claim "Your question is either meaningless or it is testable in principle" itself an untestable claim?
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:01 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:Nobody here expects that scientific progress will stop or thinks that we can predict all scientific developments in the far future.
And obviously, this is a hinderance on our ability to predict the limits of science, yes?
No. Being unable to predict everything science will investigate in the future isn't the same as being unable to demonstrate that certain things are outside its purview.

Similarly, I have no idea what future problems will be addressed or solved using computers, but I can say with absolute certainty that there will never be a Turing-equivalent solution to the general Halting Problem.


The field of science is much, much broader than Turing completeness, and thus, it is much harder to specifically exclude anything from it. But, if you include all future computer development, can you really say with confidence that no solution to the general halting problem can be found? Certainly I cannot see such an answer now, and we can prove it cannot exist within certain problem spaces, but perhaps someone in the future, working with far more information than I, can see something I cannot. This does not prove that it IS solvable, of course, merely demonstrates that we have not found a solution yet.

Claims that DO influence the real world(prayer heals people!) can be tested. All of them, at least in principle.
What empirical test would you suggest for the claim, "The song you're playing is the one to which I own the copyright"?

Surely that claim is both meaningful and capable of influencing the real world, but I don't see how that makes it scientifically testable.


The precise tests involved would depend on copyright law and it's limitations to determine if it is suitably close enough to be infringing. The law, itself, is not inherently a scientific thing. Or philosophical. In fact, it may not make any goddamned sense at all, and with respect to much of copyright, I believe this to be the case.

But similarity of songs COULD be tested scientifically.

Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**. There is nothing else.
Except, of course, for all those moral, ethical, legal, and aesthetic claims people spend a lot of their time making.

Much of the world is unscientific, yes. Hopefully this will be improved upon.

There is no confusion there. The confusion only exists because you are simplifying to "the same", without defining what "the same" is. If we both understand "the same" to mean "the same concept", then yes. If it's "the same configuration of atoms", then no.

Ambiguity because of terms is not some unsolvable mystery, it's merely poor communication.
Then how should we define "the same" so that we have "good" communication? Whatever argument you use, you're ultimately going to be basing it on some fundamentally extrascientific value judgment.[/quote]

Definitions only matter so long as both parties are using the same ones. What the definitions of different words are is fairly unimportant, but ambiguity results in miscommunication, of course, and is thus, undesirable.

As for which particular communication schema is most desirable, that is a conversation about language, and no doubt we could measure various properties of language scientifically. I do not see why you are so eager to label things "fundamentally extrascientific".

Izawwlgood wrote:Asking a scientist 'What is beauty?' should not surprisingly net you a non-scientific answer. Also not surprisingly, if the scientist says "I cannot answer that scientifically", you shouldn't conclude that science is a failed enterprise that needs artists/philosophers to conduct it's science. Which isn't to suggest is a trend that's wholly happening here, but then, it's certainly a trend I've seen elsewhere.


We could, of course, study what a given population finds beautiful, etc. I realize your point is tangental to this, but I think it's important to clarify that even this example only exists because people are looking for some etherial property underlying things that...isn't scientific at all. There is no property tagging a thing as beautiful or not beautiful. Beauty is an description by observers.
But that doesn't mean it is literally meaningless to talk about beauty.[/quote]

No...not so long as all participants are talking about beauty with the same definition in mind(or a similar enough definition that differences do not arise). But if you're arguing about a painting being beautiful or not beautiful because one person likes the colors, and one person hates anything with those colors, then yes...the discussion tends to lose value pretty quickly. Because really, the two people are perceiving the same painting, and the difference lies only within their preferences. They are not talking about the painting, but themselves.

Unfortunately, the internet has yet to realize this, and thus, we have endless conversations about if something is "good" or "bad" that boil down to nothing more than this.

Oh sure, maybe it doesn't actually work, and some OTHER force is making everything react as if it does, but really, what difference exists between those theories? Nothing testable. In real terms, it doesn't matter. If we're all in a simulation, and gravity only works the way it does because someone coded it to...so what? Our knowledge still has predictive power, and is exactly as useful.
Your "so what" is a philosophical question, and people are entitled to answer it as they want, without any testable consequences one way or the other.

So, philosophy is the discussion of things that are not useful or real. In short, no different in nature from discussing if batman could beat up superman.

I suspect a study of the latter, though, would probably not help one in pursuit of recognition in the career of philosophy, which takes on airs of importance.

Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?

Certainly not.
Of course we can study the effects of a belief, but no empirical results from such a study get us the underlying value judgments about whether we should behave or believe a certain way. If you advise against some type of harm, you're implicitly judging that type of harm to be "worse" than any harm that comes from an alternate course of action.


Why can we not measure those other sorts of harm? Is measuring not something science does? Yes, in some cases, measuring and predicting harm may present practical difficulties, but certainly there is no theoretical barrier to doing so.

This may be the source of confusion and disagreement, now that I think about it. I do not view law as a subset of philosophy. Surely, philosophies influence law, but so do many, many other things. Most overtly, laws are about power and force and naked self interest. Not always, maybe, but quite a lot of the time.
I mean that the questions of what laws should be or what the terms therein (should) mean are philosophical questions.


I dare say that if your suggestion of what the laws should be runs counter to scientific evidence, then you're out there in the realm of religion and so forth. Why is it impossible for someone to argue that we should base laws on what has been scientifically demonstrated? If policy A produces a better outcome than policy B, is that not sufficient reason to argue for it, philosophies be damned?

Yes, as before, there are practical difficulties with predicting and measuring everything, but why should the mere possibility of doing so be rejected out of hand?

I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.
You've avoided discussing the actual philosophical question, in other words.


That's not the question. The question is one of identity, and if it is an issue science can address. Discussing legal solutions for a hypothetical world with clones is an interesting tangent, but need not be discussed to answer the central question.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I have, in fact, just given potential results. They may be rather disappointing, but we do not know that the hypothetical situation is even possible. If it is, though, certainly we can test the process and results scientifically.

I'm not asking whether you could test the process and results scientifically. I'm asking whether science could answer the question "Is the person who came out of the teleporter the same person as the person who went into the teleporter?" Showing that science could say some other things about the experiment is dodging the question, not answering it.


And I'm saying that the question only seems difficult because of an ambiguity. It is like asking "What does love mean?" The latter question may seem deep as well, because you will get many different answers. However, it is simple. There is no object labeled "love". Love is an emotion. The unambiguous question is "what does love mean to you, TGB?" You answer, and then it is obvious to all what your answer is. And it is equally obvious that when someone asks "what does love mean to you, Tynd?", they are asking a different question. Because, obviously, there is not one true answer. There can't be, because you're discussing different entities.

In the case of this question, the ambiguity comes in the use of "same". The answer yes or no hinges on your definition of "same". There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.

Tyndmyr wrote:No. That is not a necessary part of the argument. Science has not investigated all topics it can potentially investigate. Obviously.

Then you are assuming without argument that topics that cannot potentially be investigated by science are "fuzzy," "subjective," and not "fact-based."


Correct. If you are stating that your topic cannot be even potentially investigated by science, you have gone beyond facts, and are discussing things that are untestable, and thus...extremely subjective. You believe in god x. Someone else believes in god y. These things are not facts. They are subjective belief.

Tyndmyr wrote:Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. ... Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**.

Likewise, you simply assume without argument that claims that cannot be tested are meaningless. Why should I believe it? And isn't the claim "Your question is either meaningless or it is testable in principle" itself an untestable claim?


Meaningless within the context of a scientific viewpoint. Someone else could, I suppose, claim to find meaning in whatever. If something is untestable even in principle, then it is outside the realms of science. However, this is an extremely broad set of parameters, and I dare say it would be difficult to demonstrate the practical value of non-scientific beliefs. You could attempt to do so using some other belief structure, but then we get back to the crux of the matter. Science works. That's why it's science. It is not merely another philosophical viewpoint.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:45 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:But, if you include all future computer development, can you really say with confidence that no solution to the general halting problem can be found? Certainly I cannot see such an answer now, and we can prove it cannot exist within certain problem spaces, but perhaps someone in the future, working with far more information than I, can see something I cannot. This does not prove that it IS solvable, of course, merely demonstrates that we have not found a solution yet.
There's a reason I specified equivalence to a Turing machine. I can say with absolute confidence that no solution of the kind I stated will ever be found.

But similarity of songs COULD be tested scientifically.
Yes, and I have acknowledged this from the beginning. My point is that there are many different ways that two song examples can be similar or different, and while science could measure the degree of similarity in each of those ways, it cannot tell us which ways are important to the question of whether something is the "same song" or not.

Definitions only matter so long as both parties are using the same ones. What the definitions of different words are is fairly unimportant, but ambiguity results in miscommunication, of course, and is thus, undesirable.

As for which particular communication schema is most desirable, that is a conversation about language, and no doubt we could measure various properties of language scientifically. I do not see why you are so eager to label things "fundamentally extrascientific".
You are making the implicit ethical assumption that some notion of "desirability" (i.e. whether some group of people (which people?) does in fact desire something) is equivalent or at least related to whether actions are "good".

That value judgment is extrascientific because science doesn't deal with questions of value.

Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?

Certainly not.
Of course we can study the effects of a belief, but no empirical results from such a study get us the underlying value judgments about whether we should behave or believe a certain way. If you advise against some type of harm, you're implicitly judging that type of harm to be "worse" than any harm that comes from an alternate course of action.
Why can we not measure those other sorts of harm? Is measuring not something science does? Yes, in some cases, measuring and predicting harm may present practical difficulties, but certainly there is no theoretical barrier to doing so.
Of course you can measure certain types of harm, but you can't measure whether we should concern ourselves more with one type or with another.

I dare say that if your suggestion of what the laws should be runs counter to scientific evidence, then you're out there in the realm of religion and so forth. Why is it impossible for someone to argue that we should base laws on what has been scientifically demonstrated? If policy A produces a better outcome than policy B, is that not sufficient reason to argue for it, philosophies be damned?
You keep sticking ethical terms into your supposedly completely scientific statements. This is either scientism or ignorance of (the complexities of) what those words actually mean.

A better outcome for whom? As judged by whom?

What is the purpose of punishment? What is a good outcome for punishment to have? Should the penal system be primarily rehabilitive, primarily preventative, or primarily retributive? Why? Sure, you can use science (which is to say, statistics) to determine how a given system measures up in each of those three ways (and others I'm sure I haven't considered). But how is science supposed to tell you how heavily each should be weighted? I might believe that rehabilitation should be the primary concern, while someone else may believe that retribution should be primary, and how is science supposed to tell us which view is the correct one?

The same issue arises with rights. It's nice to say certain rights are inalienable (though that is already a philosophical claim), but how do we decide which of those rights are more important when they come into conflict? Should laws be set up to protect your life at the possible expense of your liberty, or to protect your liberty at the possible expense of your life? How much of an impact on other people must there be before their interests outweigh your own in either case?

Two people might agree completely on the factual outcomes of a particular pair of policies, but that doesn't imply that they will necessarily agree on which one is preferable. And while science can of course help to resolve the first type of disagreement, I don't see what empirical observations could resolve the second. (Even finding out which outcome is in fact desired by the majority of the population doesn't answer the question unless you also presuppose some manner of utilitarianism.)

I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.
You've avoided discussing the actual philosophical question, in other words.
That's not the question. The question is one of identity, and if it is an issue science can address. Discussing legal solutions for a hypothetical world with clones is an interesting tangent, but need not be discussed to answer the central question.
The question is one of identity, which is relevant whether or not it can be addressed scientifically precisely because of the legal implications in a hypothetical world with clones. It's not an interesting tangent, it's the whole central part of the argument about whether (what I maintain are) extrascientific questions can nonetheless be relevant.

In the case of this question, the ambiguity comes in the use of "same". The answer yes or no hinges on your definition of "same". There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.
Yes, and whatever science can tell you about different types of similarity, it isn't the sort of thing that can resolve the question of what definition to use.

Tyndmyr wrote:Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. ... Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**.

Likewise, you simply assume without argument that claims that cannot be tested are meaningless. Why should I believe it? And isn't the claim "Your question is either meaningless or it is testable in principle" itself an untestable claim?
Meaningless within the context of a scientific viewpoint. Someone else could, I suppose, claim to find meaning in whatever. If something is untestable even in principle, then it is outside the realms of science.
Well no shit. That's why I keep calling such things "extrascientific", as in, outside the realms of science.

However, this is an extremely broad set of parameters, and I dare say it would be difficult to demonstrate the practical value of non-scientific beliefs. You could attempt to do so using some other belief structure, but then we get back to the crux of the matter. Science works. That's why it's science. It is not merely another philosophical viewpoint.
As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.

Oh, and I italicized yet another philosophical term you've used in your "scientific" claims.

What is "practical value"? Who gets to decide how "practically valuable" something is? What sorts of use does something need to have to be considered "practical" or "practically valuable"?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

Cres
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:14 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Cres » Wed Sep 10, 2014 9:03 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.


This is where we need to be careful and precise in our use of language. This is not really a question about definitions of words (which it might well be possible to stipulate in different ways) but rather about the nature of the concepts that those words denote (sameness or goodness rather than the word "same" or "good"). We could change the words (if, for example, we were speaking French) and still be having the same discussion.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:24 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.
However can Philosophy answer them? You use the same words, important, relevant, practical consequences. And they mean just as little when you say them as when anyone else does. If some questions provide no factual basis for answering them then what other basis is there?

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:56 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.
The discussion about whether science was a subset of philosophy started on the very first page.

I don't disagree that philosophical/ethical/legal questions may be best handled by philosophy, and may indeed be unanswerable by science, but that's not really the point nor purview of my original contention when making this topic.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:09 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.
However can Philosophy answer them? You use the same words, important, relevant, practical consequences. And they mean just as little when you say them as when anyone else does. If some questions provide no factual basis for answering them then what other basis is there?
In ethics, to take a specific example, I don't think philosophy can answer all these questions in any absolute sense, any more than you can have an absolute answer to the underspecified question, "What is the lowest number?" As in the mathematical case I believe it's necessary to specify some axioms and the like to start with.

And philosophy by itself often can't answer most of the interesting questions even after specifying axioms, because as previously mentioned scientific investigation is necessary for determining the (likely) consequences of a particular action or decision, and so any ethical system based at all on consequences will of course need to be informed by science.

The point I'm making here about ethics, like the point I and others tried to make in this thread about mathematics, is that there are multiple available sets of starting axioms. And by the time you start doing math and logic and science on the interesting higher-level questions, you've almost certainly already made an implicit choice of which set to use, even though other choices are available.

What I see scientism doing with philosophical issues is refusing to acknowledge that it has made such a choice or even that such a choice exists at all. "We may not need to choose axioms," they say, "because perhaps if we just keep finding lower numbers we'll eventually find the answer that way."

Izawwlgood wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.
The discussion about whether science was a subset of philosophy started on the very first page.
Okay, but as far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint".

In other words, (1) we never claimed that science was an element of the set, "philosophical viewpoints", but that's not the same as claiming it definitely isn't a subset of the set, "philosophy", and (2) it's entirely possible in any case that neither TGB nor I are presently discussing the precise contention you had in mind when you started this topic two and a half weeks ago.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:15 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:You'll have to explain to me then what you're getting at with IP law and songs.
IP law is concerned with questions like whether the song you're playing is the "same song" as the one I hold the copyright to. That's all I was getting at.

Works of music have a sort of "musical identity" that I think is akin to personal identity in the sense that two things can be "the same song" without being identical in every conceivable way just like two things can be "the same person" without being 100% identical.

Which means that the question of what makes something "the same song" or "the same person" isn't a purely empirical one.

As an aside, the teleporter/clone problem is interesting, and I enjoy discussing it, but it mostly stands as an underline to how philosophy problems cannot be solved scientifically. I don't think that's particularly compelling, other than to agree that philosophical issues are philosophical in nature, and scientific issues are scientific in nature.
The reason I haven't bothered to respond in detail to all of your posts on this page is because you end with this, which basically amounts to saying you're not terribly interested in this particular tangent.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:29 am UTC

I would add that I don't think that "philosophical viewpoint" is in any way a slur against a position; Tyndmyr says that science is "not just another philosophical viewpoint" as if philosophical viewpoints are things that one can adopt or reject for no reason at all. To the contrary: I think that scientific realism is a philosophical viewpoint which there are excellent reasons for adopting. Just as I think there are excellent reasons for adopting moral realism or the reality of a priori knowledge.

Tyndmyr, I don't see how the conversation can possibly move forward if you aren't going to defend your contention that untestable claims are "beyond facts" or "meaningless."
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:27 pm UTC

Tyn will have to chime in here, but I think he was suggesting that Science is separate from Philosophy insofar as not simply being a subset of it, and it's hypotheses being rejected or accepted based on non-philosophical means.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:37 pm UTC

I'm fine with saying that science itself (it's methodology in particular) isn't a philosophical position, but I think TGB is right that a philosophical position is implicit in believing its results.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
ahammel
My Little Cabbage
Posts: 2135
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:46 am UTC
Location: Vancouver BC
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby ahammel » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:15 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Tyn will have to chime in here, but I think he was suggesting that Science is separate from Philosophy insofar as not simply being a subset of it, and it's hypotheses being rejected or accepted based on non-philosophical means.

Depends how you define it.

I mean, I could say that philosophy is the process of determining the truth values of hypotheses by objective means (where "hypothesis" is defined very broadly to include propositions like "the speed of light in a vacuum is a constant for all observers", "abortion is morally wrong", "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", and "reality exists independent of the observer"). I think that's a semi-reasonable definition, and it clearly makes science a subset of philosophy: it's the kind of philosophy that answers questions by doing excitements and building mathematical models and the like.

Or, if you think that's too broad, you could say that philosophy deals strictly with questions that are insoluble by empirical means (like those last three up there). In that case, science is clearly not a subset of philosophy. There are, no doubt, many more reasonable definitions.

For edge cases like the gent mentioned above who works on the logical consistency of the Everett interpretation and the theoretical branches of various scientific disciplines which do not rely on experiment, you could pretty easily twerk the definitions above to make these things science, philosophy, or a little of both.

Unless there are good reasons for picking one set of definitions over the others, I don't think the question really has an answer.
He/Him/His/Alex
God damn these electric sex pants!

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7508
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Zamfir » Thu Sep 11, 2014 2:52 pm UTC

You're surely right that there is no single answer, but it can still be illuminating to discuss the pros and cos of the various possibilities.

Take for example your proposed 'broad' concept of philosophy, which would not just include science, but even browsing the TV guide. With such a broad range to cover, the philosophy of philosophers gets drowned away. It would require a new word and then the question would just resurface as to whether this new word also covers science.

I think that's a strong indication that such a concept is too broad.

mousewiz
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:50 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby mousewiz » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:14 pm UTC

Just going to chime in as someone who took a 3rd year Philosophy of Science course (taught by this guy, for the curious) to fill in the non-science credits required in my comp sci degree...

At the very beginning of the course, we were told that Philosophy of Science is really big, and we were just going to focus on trying to define 'science' rather than doing an overview of the entire topic. The reason given for this choice of topic is that a lot of stuff gets done in the name of science (whether or not this is a good thing was not discussed), so it is useful to be able to:
- Explain why theory X has nothing to do with science (or perhaps is 'bad science'), while theory Y does (or is 'good science')
- Explain why theory A is better than theory B, despite both being born of science
- Other stuff that I forget off the top of my head but sounded reasonable at the time

Basically, we want to be able to explain why evolution should be taught in science classrooms, while intelligent design should not be. And we want to explain why we prefer scientific theories that explain more stuff, without devolving to the point that 'god did it' is the best possible theory ever. We want to be able to do this as precisely as we can because "I know it when I see it" is not a great way to write laws, for example.

Some examples of issues discussed early on in the course included:
- Obviously science isn't going to claim that a drop in a barometer caused a storm, but a lot of definitions that sound reasonable at a glance allow for that sort of nonsense to be called science.
- If I stand next to some radioactive source, and then get cancer, science can't really state (at least not at the moment, afaik) whether or not standing next to said source caused the cancer. It can explain how the source might have given me cancer, and it can predict how likely I was to get cancer given that I stood next to the source, which is awesome. But if it can't say that the source caused the cancer, a lot of reasonable sounding definitions of science start to exclude a lot of science.

These two flaws in early attempts at definitions are, of course, easily remedied. But then flaws are pointed out in more complex definitions because that's what philosophers do. The course was long enough ago that I wouldn't be able to do the subtleties justice at this point without a refresher, unfortunately.

There was not a single definition of science or journal article that we looked at that included anything like 'science is a subset of philosophy'. That's probably a notion that some philosophers and some scientists hold, but I didn't get the sense that it's an important part of any definition of science that any philosopher of science holds.

I can't really comment on other things that philosophers of science might do that might rub scientists the wrong way because I don't know about the other things that said philosophers do.

User avatar
ahammel
My Little Cabbage
Posts: 2135
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:46 am UTC
Location: Vancouver BC
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby ahammel » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:19 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:You're surely right that there is no single answer, but it can still be illuminating to discuss the pros and cos of the various possibilities.

Take for example your proposed 'broad' concept of philosophy, which would not just include science, but even browsing the TV guide. With such a broad range to cover, the philosophy of philosophers gets drowned away. It would require a new word and then the question would just resurface as to whether this new word also covers science.

I think that's a strong indication that such a concept is too broad.

Well, quite, so say that both of them are activities where one makes logically consistent arguments and submits original ideas to the scrutiny of one's peers and so forth. I'm just trying to give a flavour of what definition somebody who says that science is a subset of philosophy might be using.

I kind of suspect that it's going to turn out that there aren't very compelling reasons to define philosophy to include science or not, but I've been wrong before. It happened twice last year.
He/Him/His/Alex
God damn these electric sex pants!

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 11, 2014 3:39 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:But, if you include all future computer development, can you really say with confidence that no solution to the general halting problem can be found? Certainly I cannot see such an answer now, and we can prove it cannot exist within certain problem spaces, but perhaps someone in the future, working with far more information than I, can see something I cannot. This does not prove that it IS solvable, of course, merely demonstrates that we have not found a solution yet.
There's a reason I specified equivalence to a Turing machine. I can say with absolute confidence that no solution of the kind I stated will ever be found.


Of course. But our knowledge of science is not quite so encompassing. It may, one day come to pass that we have discovered all of the things we can discover, or very close, and thus, become quite certain of what things can never be discovered by science. We're definitely not there yes.

But similarity of songs COULD be tested scientifically.
Yes, and I have acknowledged this from the beginning. My point is that there are many different ways that two song examples can be similar or different, and while science could measure the degree of similarity in each of those ways, it cannot tell us which ways are important to the question of whether something is the "same song" or not.


Certainly. Just like there are many possible acceptable margins of errors for measurement, but we don't announce that science is unable to measure things.

The only reason you have difficulty over "same", is because you are still relying on the amiguity of that word. It's not a thing that science cannot do. It's a word that you are using ambiguously.

Definitions only matter so long as both parties are using the same ones. What the definitions of different words are is fairly unimportant, but ambiguity results in miscommunication, of course, and is thus, undesirable.

As for which particular communication schema is most desirable, that is a conversation about language, and no doubt we could measure various properties of language scientifically. I do not see why you are so eager to label things "fundamentally extrascientific".
You are making the implicit ethical assumption that some notion of "desirability" (i.e. whether some group of people (which people?) does in fact desire something) is equivalent or at least related to whether actions are "good".

That value judgment is extrascientific because science doesn't deal with questions of value.


Science does so all the time. It does not generally use terms so generic as "good", unless it's a very high level summary, of course. Terms like "correlates with low rates of mortality" or "beneficial to x in y doses" are used. Valuation is part of what it does, though. It tests things to determine their value, rather than assigning them arbitrarily.

Of course, you'll no doubt point out that the overarching goals are subjective, and a short, terrible life is not inherently better or worse than a long, happy one. This is, of course, true. However, science can just as easily be used to find either path. It's simply a result of natural selection that the latter goal is far more popular, and thus, makes a more reasonable assumption of a random individual's goals.

Why? Can we not study the effects of such belief? Is it not possible to determine if beliving in a magical sky-god correlates with refusing critical medical care, or other such harmful activities? Is it strange to advise against courses of action that raise your risk of harm? Is it unscientific?

Certainly not.
Of course we can study the effects of a belief, but no empirical results from such a study get us the underlying value judgments about whether we should behave or believe a certain way. If you advise against some type of harm, you're implicitly judging that type of harm to be "worse" than any harm that comes from an alternate course of action.
Why can we not measure those other sorts of harm? Is measuring not something science does? Yes, in some cases, measuring and predicting harm may present practical difficulties, but certainly there is no theoretical barrier to doing so.
Of course you can measure certain types of harm, but you can't measure whether we should concern ourselves more with one type or with another.


Why can't we? Are you saying it is impossible, instead of merely difficult, to compare the effects of say, losing one's job to getting cancer? These are certainly different types of thing, but the effects can be measured, and, if sufficiently accurate and encompassing measurements are taken, the two could be compared.

Again, practical difficulties today, but nothing intrinsicly impossible. If the only objective to comparing things is volume of data captured and crunched, well...that's an area in which we have progressed quite rapidly.

I dare say that if your suggestion of what the laws should be runs counter to scientific evidence, then you're out there in the realm of religion and so forth. Why is it impossible for someone to argue that we should base laws on what has been scientifically demonstrated? If policy A produces a better outcome than policy B, is that not sufficient reason to argue for it, philosophies be damned?
You keep sticking ethical terms into your supposedly completely scientific statements. This is either scientism or ignorance of (the complexities of) what those words actually mean.

A better outcome for whom? As judged by whom?


Better as in, fulfills it's goals. If one can demonstrate that laws intended to say, reduce death by drug abuse, actually increase drug abuse, one can obviously rate that law as being terrible at fulfilling it's goals. This is a dramatic example, but comparing and contrasting different laws due to testing is quite possible.

What is the purpose of punishment? What is a good outcome for punishment to have? Should the penal system be primarily rehabilitive, primarily preventative, or primarily retributive? Why? Sure, you can use science (which is to say, statistics) to determine how a given system measures up in each of those three ways (and others I'm sure I haven't considered). But how is science supposed to tell you how heavily each should be weighted? I might believe that rehabilitation should be the primary concern, while someone else may believe that retribution should be primary, and how is science supposed to tell us which view is the correct one?


Does retribution provide benefits? Given adequate measurement, surely one could compare and contrast the different styles. Does capital punishment cost less or more? Does it have any deterrence effect? And so on, for each of no doubt many potential differences.

We don't need to take the goals as givens at all. If a person wants retribution, nothing prevents us from asking why, and attempting to determine what actual value that approach has, if any. Basing these laws based on belief without evidence is unnecessary and likely undesirable.

The same issue arises with rights. It's nice to say certain rights are inalienable (though that is already a philosophical claim), but how do we decide which of those rights are more important when they come into conflict? Should laws be set up to protect your life at the possible expense of your liberty, or to protect your liberty at the possible expense of your life? How much of an impact on other people must there be before their interests outweigh your own in either case?


Again, these are testable. To some degree, thanks to history, they already have been(albeit not always in the most controlled of fashions). Surely, results matter here. A policy of infringing freedom mildly to prevent suicides has effects that are, even at our current level of science, fairly unambigously identified as a net win. Suicide is costly to society, the cost of intervention is small, and it ends up being fairly strongly supported as desirable policy by the evidence. More ambiguous cases exist, of course, as there's a continnum of possibilities all the way to terminal patients refusing life support. Finding the exact point where the costs outweigh the benefits and applying this on an individual basis is probably something we lack the data for presently, but again...this is not a failing of it in principle, merely a lack of sufficient data and understanding of it.

Two people might agree completely on the factual outcomes of a particular pair of policies, but that doesn't imply that they will necessarily agree on which one is preferable. And while science can of course help to resolve the first type of disagreement, I don't see what empirical observations could resolve the second. (Even finding out which outcome is in fact desired by the majority of the population doesn't answer the question unless you also presuppose some manner of utilitarianism.)


Utilitarianism incorporates many elements of evidence replacing belief, yes.

Disagreement is possible without a disagreement on fact, but this seems to be the exception, not the norm. The vast majority of policy debate includes significant disagreement on fact. Bluntly, people are starting with a belief, and if the facts contradict it, instead of changing their belief, they attempt to change, ignore, or avoid the facts. This is exactly backwards from a scientific approach(and yes, I'm aware that similar politics do happen even in scientific domains, but eventually, experimentation tends to settle things in a way that other fields do not).

I do not, of course, propose that embracing science will solve ALL disagreements...outliers will exist, humans are imperfect, and so forth. But philosophy certainly doesn't solve all disagreements either. In fact, it seems horribly worse at solving them than science. Once scientists are agreed on the facts, it seems that the bitter disagreement between them mostly goes away. Look at global warming. A discussion between actual scientists involved with the topic is almost invariably about the facts. They may have a different interpretation of results, in some degree, due to measurement limitations, uncertainty, different models, whatever. But...as those things converge, the disagreement vanishes. On the flip side, we have the unscientific viewpoint that global warming is some kind of false conspiracy, which seems to be connected with those who fear that responding to such a thing would threaten their ideology, etc. They perpetuate disagreement, BECAUSE they are embracing axiomatic values and belief as more important than evidence, and see evidence as something only useful to support those things.

I've avoided discussing the actual issue of "what should we do with clones", because my reply is already quite long enough, but it's surely an interesting topic.
You've avoided discussing the actual philosophical question, in other words.
That's not the question. The question is one of identity, and if it is an issue science can address. Discussing legal solutions for a hypothetical world with clones is an interesting tangent, but need not be discussed to answer the central question.
The question is one of identity, which is relevant whether or not it can be addressed scientifically precisely because of the legal implications in a hypothetical world with clones. It's not an interesting tangent, it's the whole central part of the argument about whether (what I maintain are) extrascientific questions can nonetheless be relevant.


The closest modern analogy would be twins. Despite strange historical treatment of twins(which seems wildly irrational today, looking back on it), there seems to be no legal difficulty with handling them now. I imagine law will adapt.

In the case of this question, the ambiguity comes in the use of "same". The answer yes or no hinges on your definition of "same". There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.
Yes, and whatever science can tell you about different types of similarity, it isn't the sort of thing that can resolve the question of what definition to use.


Why not? Is taxonomy not scientific? Can science not define terms?

If not, you should probably notify someone, because it's already done that quite a lot.

Tyndmyr wrote:Claims about something that does not influence the real word whatsoever cannot be tested and are essentially meaningless. We also do not talk about truth or falsehood of a baby babbling, because...no coherent idea is being communicated there. ... Your question is either meaningless* or it is testable in principle**.

Likewise, you simply assume without argument that claims that cannot be tested are meaningless. Why should I believe it? And isn't the claim "Your question is either meaningless or it is testable in principle" itself an untestable claim?
Meaningless within the context of a scientific viewpoint. Someone else could, I suppose, claim to find meaning in whatever. If something is untestable even in principle, then it is outside the realms of science.
Well no shit. That's why I keep calling such things "extrascientific", as in, outside the realms of science.


Yeah. I'm not sure why people keep challenging this. It seems obviously true by definition. *shrug*

I suspect the difference here is that I don't see a particular need for an overarching philosophy in order to view things scientifically. Science isn't part of philosophy...it's a different domain. The domain of the real, the testable. Philosophy is the domain of...the other stuff. You could also call it religion. Same domain.

However, this is an extremely broad set of parameters, and I dare say it would be difficult to demonstrate the practical value of non-scientific beliefs. You could attempt to do so using some other belief structure, but then we get back to the crux of the matter. Science works. That's why it's science. It is not merely another philosophical viewpoint.
As far as I can tell, neither TGB nor I have ever claimed that science is "merely another philosophical viewpoint". What we have been claiming is that there are important and relevant questions with practical consequences in the real world which cannot be answered from within science.

Oh, and I italicized yet another philosophical term you've used in your "scientific" claims.

What is "practical value"? Who gets to decide how "practically valuable" something is? What sorts of use does something need to have to be considered "practical" or "practically valuable"?


Science answers things. Philosophy really doesn't. Or rather, you can come up with an "answer", but it's no different from answers provided by religion or what have you. If it is in the domain with which science cannot interact, it is necessarily untestable and uncertain.

Or, judging from the history of religion and philosophy, fiction. Not real.

There is no practical problem in the real world that cannot be addressed by science, but that philosophy/religion solves.

Cres wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:There is no doubt as to the facts, only the definition.


This is where we need to be careful and precise in our use of language. This is not really a question about definitions of words (which it might well be possible to stipulate in different ways) but rather about the nature of the concepts that those words denote (sameness or goodness rather than the word "same" or "good"). We could change the words (if, for example, we were speaking French) and still be having the same discussion.


If two people have a different concept in mind, and use the same word to describe it, is that not ambiguity?

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I would add that I don't think that "philosophical viewpoint" is in any way a slur against a position; Tyndmyr says that science is "not just another philosophical viewpoint" as if philosophical viewpoints are things that one can adopt or reject for no reason at all. To the contrary: I think that scientific realism is a philosophical viewpoint which there are excellent reasons for adopting. Just as I think there are excellent reasons for adopting moral realism or the reality of a priori knowledge.

Tyndmyr, I don't see how the conversation can possibly move forward if you aren't going to defend your contention that untestable claims are "beyond facts" or "meaningless."


The thing about axioms is that one does indeed adopt them without justification. If something is adopted as a logical result of x, y and z, it isn't an axiom.

Religion/philosophy is big on these things. Science, not so much. Finding reasons for things is pretty essential to the concept. As for why one adopts science instead of another viewpoint....because it works. See also, natural selection.

As for the latter, it's already been addressed, and...I do not understand why there is confusion. Something that is wholly untestable is not a fact. That seems quite clear and simple, I'm not sure where the confusion lies. Certainly, I do not see how someone could regard things as facts in lieu of evidence. That way lies madness.

Izawwlgood wrote:Tyn will have to chime in here, but I think he was suggesting that Science is separate from Philosophy insofar as not simply being a subset of it, and it's hypotheses being rejected or accepted based on non-philosophical means.


Of course.

gmalivuk wrote:I'm fine with saying that science itself (it's methodology in particular) isn't a philosophical position, but I think TGB is right that a philosophical position is implicit in believing its results.


What philosophical position? Science works because we have defined as scientific those methodologies that work. It's like natural selection, there is no lower level. The two connect, of course.

One might as well speak of a squirrel practicing philosophy because he does not cease eating food and reproducing.

Ahammel, sure, other definitions are definitely possible. I am using one fairly strict definition consistently...but I note that for those questions that can be addressed scientifically, I cannot see why a scientist would wish to use a non-scientific approach instead. So, I'm not sure what philosophy is good for there. Using belief instead of evidence would be wildly unscientific by definition. It also gets into "everything is philosophy" territory, at which point...we're in ambiguous territory again, and "philosophy" mostly loses any real meaning. So, I am using the stricter defintion for clarity.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Zcorp » Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:21 pm UTC

ahammel wrote:Depends how you define it...There are, no doubt, many more reasonable definitions.

Unless there are good reasons for picking one set of definitions over the others, I don't think the question really has an answer.

You can choose to attach any concept to a word you want, but reasonable definitions look at history, current culture and then apply logic.

Neither of the definitions you proposed above are reasonable.

For thousands of years we have use that word or similar in other languages to convey the idea of asking questions and seeking answers to fundamental aspects of existence. This is really the only reasonable definition of philosophy at a base level, although like the word 'science' the word is used to convey a few different concepts. Most often it is conflated with the concept behind ideology. Simply because you can define something as just about anything does not make those definitions reasonable. Further, reasonable definitions strive to avoid being to broad or to narrow, if you find yourself using a concept that is one of those it is also very unlikely to be reasonable.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 11, 2014 4:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I suspect the difference here is that I don't see a particular need for an overarching philosophy in order to view things scientifically. Science isn't part of philosophy...it's a different domain. The domain of the real, the testable. Philosophy is the domain of...the other stuff. You could also call it religion. Same domain.
I'm curious. A lot of this argument flies by me. But this statement is causing me some problems. Testability is a criteria for science, I'm okay with that. But Science itself assumes things not testable. Statistics quite often are used to define the success or failure of particular experiments. And statistics themselves rely on things assumed. So that certain results are true, if and only if the assumptions the mathematics rely on are correct. How do you test for that?

Man himself forms another weak link. If facts are facts then what we make of them are judgements. Peer review which I am led to believe is the foundation of good Science, is fundamentally based on trust, not fact. No one man nor any group of men can test every paper or research problem, or replicate every experiment. So we seem to rely on unmeasurables, like reputation and standing.

My last point would be based on my understanding of what Science does. Science moves from the domain of the known to the domain of the unknown. Engineering(as fact based as it can be) is rife with examples of this principle. We make leaps based on our trust of our understanding. The we build bridges like the Tacoma Narrows bridge. Is that trust fact based? Is Engineering, Science?

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, I may respond more specifically when I get home, but for now I'll point out that you simply keep refusing to acknowledge philosophical positions you've implicitly taken, and that doesn't magically mean you haven't taken those positions. (Edit: In addition, as TGB and now also morriswalters have pointed out, there are untestable assumptions made in science, such as for example the entirety of mathematics. What non-circular reasoning can lead to the premise that statistical inference is valid?)

You say science works, but what is "work" in this case? Works how? For whom? Science does stuff we like but you've gone ahead of that and equated it with "working". TGB already mentioned scientific realism, so I figured I didn't have to repeat that in order for you to be able to figure out I was talking about it.

With the "different ways to be different" issue, you seem to have completely missed the point. What do margins of error have to do with anything? Error bars exist in one dimension for one trait, but don't tell you how to compare different kinds of traits. Is a sped up version of a song more or less similar to the original than a pitch-raised version? Error bars will tell you how confident we are that it is indeed the sped-up or pitched-up version of the same song, but not which change is more important.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:33 pm UTC

I agree that science is making assumptions based on the theory/structure of knowledge, and that these assumptions are or can be philosophical in nature, and/or philosophically discussed. I don't think it has been demonstrated that because of this fact, science is a subset of philosophy, and/or that philosophy can actively contribute to ongoing science.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Zcorp » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I agree that science is making assumptions based on the theory/structure of knowledge, and that these assumptions are or can be philosophical in nature, and/or philosophically discussed. I don't think it has been demonstrated that because of this fact, science is a subset of philosophy

That's because no one is trying to demonstrate that, largely because it would be trying to demonstrate something that is obviously false.
There is nothing logical about saying 'because philosophy decides how we seek knowledge science is a subset of philosophy.'

Science is a subset of philosophy because all of science is something created to inform philosophy's fundamental questions. To answer deep questions about existence we have found we need to ask more specific questions, and a lot of them and from those answers we can start to get a better answer for the fundamental ones.

and/or that philosophy can actively contribute to ongoing science.

You don't believe formulation of theory can contribute to specific instances of using the method?
Or do you now believe that forming theory is science?

Do you believe it is not a philosophical question to ask about statistical significance and reproduction of studies?
http://xkcd.com/882/
http://www.nature.com/news/replication- ... py-1.10634
http://www.nature.com/news/weak-statist ... ty-1.14131

You talk frequently about falsification, yet failed to answer my question regarding science before Popper. Do you believe we won't find another way to improve our method for understanding truth, and as such philosophy has nothing more to add to science? That science is at a place that is so perfect we won't find ways to improve it?
Last edited by Zcorp on Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:54 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Sep 11, 2014 5:52 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:As for the latter, it's already been addressed, and...I do not understand why there is confusion. Something that is wholly untestable is not a fact. That seems quite clear and simple, I'm not sure where the confusion lies. Certainly, I do not see how someone could regard things as facts in lieu of evidence. That way lies madness.

I am not "confused." I think that you have been perfectly clear. I do, however, disagree with your persistently unargued assumption that "Something that is wholly untestable is not a fact." I think that there are lots of untestable beliefs that are facts, such as:

  1. If nothing is both red and green all over, it is metaphysically necessary that nothing is red and green all over.
  2. I shouldn't hurt people just for fun.
  3. I am not a brain in a vat.
  4. 2 + 2 = 4

This list also shows why I believe that we can regard things as facts in spite of a lack of empirical evidence. No madness necessary.
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:01 pm UTC

Spoilered because Zcorp:
Spoiler:
Izawwlgood wrote:I agree that science is making assumptions based on the theory/structure of knowledge, and that these assumptions are or can be philosophical in nature, and/or philosophically discussed. I don't think it has been demonstrated that because of this fact, science is a subset of philosophy
Zcorp wrote:That's because no one is trying to demonstrate that, largely because it would be trying to demonstrate something that is obviously false.
... Are you fucking kidding me?

Philosophy is to science as a rectangle is to a square.
Philosophy is a category of skills that contains reason (as mentioned often called science, scientific thinking, critical thinking etc), which contains the scientific method.
Basketball is a category of skills that contains shooting, which contains free throws.
Science is entirely subset of philosophy.
Everything is not philosophy, philosophy is a subset of all human activity, and science is a subset of philosophy.
Zcorp wrote:I agree that science is making assumptions based on the theory/structure of knowledge, and that these assumptions are or can be philosophical in nature, and/or philosophically discussed. I don't think it has been demonstrated that because of this fact, science is a subset of philosophy


Are you now saying science isn't a subset of philosophy?

Zcorp wrote:You don't believe formulation of theory can contribute to specific instances of using the method?
Or do you now believe that forming theory is science?
I don't believe most sciences are benefiting from the current contributions of philosophy. We've been over this, and I'd prefer to not circle around it again.
TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:This list also shows why I believe that we can regard things as facts in spite of a lack of empirical evidence. No madness necessary.
Your list is an observation that can be invalidated with sufficient observation, two philosophical/ethical positions, and one mathematical statement. If you want to claim all math is philosophy, you're free to, but once again, we've been given a definition of philosophy so broad as to be effectively meaningless.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

BattleMoose
Posts: 1993
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 8:42 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby BattleMoose » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:06 pm UTC

People's opinions of what science is or the ways to do science really do vary and that's fine. Science isn't restrictive like that. For me personally science is "understanding the way things are". Very common themes exist, testability, falsifiability and predictability.

So if our understanding of the way things are is increasing, then I would say science is working. This is fairly trivial to demonstrate, previously we didn't have an understanding of the motion of celestial bodies but now we do. We are now able to predict very precisely when the sun will rise and set, eclipses and so forth. We have a theory for this which is falsifiable and tested with very sunrise.

Strictly speaking science doesn't or shouldn't ever say things are a certain way. We could for example be in a giant computer simulation and so forth. But so what? Lets continue to understand the motion of celestial bodies within our giant computer simulation then. Descartes and so forth.

But if we can continue to develop theories which can make testable predictions then I would say science is working. And I don't think its terribly important as to how we get there, regarding peer review, statistics and trust and so forth. We have found that peer review as an example really helps in doing, science.

Statistics on the other hand is getting a bunch of attention lately. I have come across a few esteemed scientists really very aggressively criticizing our dogma attitude towards statistical significant and what that actually means. And how our dependence on statistical significance can actually hurt and limit our ability to do science.

Again personally (and as one not knowing very much at all about philosophy) I regard science as answering questions with unique answers. When will the next solar eclipse be? And Philosophy as dealing with issues of how we should or could live, behave and interact with each other and our environment.

Whether we should or how we do science is a philosophical question?

But I do think scientists who do do science generally pay almost no attention to philosophy or the interaction between science and philosophy. They just get on and do. The development of the scientific method not included.
Last edited by BattleMoose on Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:09 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
TheGrammarBolshevik
Posts: 4878
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 2:12 am UTC
Location: Going to and fro in the earth, and walking up and down in it.

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:07 pm UTC

No, I don't want to claim that. What I want to claim is precisely what I actually did claim: that all of those things are facts, none of them are testable, none of them are based on empirical evidence, and none of them involve or lead to "madness." All in contradiction of the view that Tyndmyr has continually refused to defend.

And no observation could invalidate #1. Nor is it, itself, an observation. If you think it would be disproved by finding something that is red and green all over, look again: I formulated it in order to rule out this possibility.

(That being said, I do think the hypothesis could be discarded and the statement would still be untestable: there is no sensory experience that would count as an observation of something that is red and green all over.)
Nothing rhymes with orange,
Not even sporange.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7508
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Zamfir » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:13 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: I don't think [...] that philosophy can actively contribute to ongoing science.

You keep repeating this point, and I just don't see it. There are many scientists with an interest in philosophical topics that touch on science. They think it helps them doing science, or they think it is a natural extension of their field.

If such things don't count as contribution, then I don't see much room before the statement becomes tautological. Define philosophy as fundamentally not science, then conclude that no philosophy is science.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote: I don't think [...] that philosophy can actively contribute to ongoing science.

You keep repeating this point, and I just don't see it. There are many scientists with an interest in philosophical topics that touch on science. They think it helps them doing science, or they think it is a natural extension of their field.

If such things don't count as contribution, then I don't see much room before the statement becomes tautological. Define philosophy as fundamentally not science, then conclude that no philosophy is science.
I've repeatedly provided exceptions, examples where I think philosophers are actively working with scientists to contribute to science and/or philosophy. I believe most of the places I've written what you quoted, I actually wrote 'philosophers cannot contribute to most science'

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:And no observation could invalidate #1. Nor is it, itself, an observation. If you think it would be disproved by finding something that is red and green all over, look again: I formulated it in order to rule out this possibility.
Then I admit I'm not understanding the statement. Can you clarify? particularly, what makes the statement intentionally untestable?
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:29 pm UTC

...the fact that it can't be tested, probably.

What test could possibly support or disprove #1?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:32 pm UTC

Like I said, I may be misreading it and asked for a clarification;

I am reading it as 'If there are no things that are green and red all over, then, there are no things are green and red all over'. Which is why I would expect that observing something that is green and red all over would invalidate the observation.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
rat4000
r/ratsgonewild
Posts: 451
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:51 pm UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby rat4000 » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:43 pm UTC

Yeah you're misreading it. It's saying that, if in this world there is nothing that is red and green all over, then there is no possible world containing anything which is red and green all over. The statements on the two sides of the "then" are (very!) different.

It's unfalsifiable because it's a conditional with an untestable consequent. If you find something that is red and green all over, in this world, then the conditional is true. ("If A then B" is defined as false if A is true and B false, and true otherwise.) If you find nothing in this world that is RAGAO, the conditional might still be false, but you'd have to test all possible worlds to check. So under the fairly reasonable assumption that you can't perform tests in (merely) possible worlds, there is no test that will show that the conditional is false.

FWIW, observing something that is red and green all over wouldn't invalidate your reading, either. Oh wait, EDIT: "invalidate the observation?" Not the statement?

This post has been edited many, many times. Sorry.
Last edited by rat4000 on Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:04 pm UTC, edited 5 times in total.

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Zcorp » Thu Sep 11, 2014 6:59 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Are you now saying science isn't a subset of philosophy?

No, I'm saying that science is not a subset of philosophy because "science is making assumptions based on the theory/structure of knowledge, and that these assumptions are or can be philosophical in nature, and/or philosophically discussed."

Instead, it is a subset of philosophy because of the reason I just wrote:
"Science is a subset of philosophy because all of science is something created to inform philosophy's fundamental questions. To answer deep questions about existence we have found we need to ask more specific questions, and a lot of them and from those answers we can start to get a better answer for the fundamental ones."

Zcorp wrote:You don't believe formulation of theory can contribute to specific instances of using the method?
Or do you now believe that forming theory is science?
I don't believe most sciences are benefiting from the current contributions of philosophy. We've been over this, and I'd prefer to not circle around it again.

We have been over this, you're right. I've asked you multiple times for you to make an argument and not just supply an opinion. Until you do so there is little this side of the discussion can do besides circle around it. You are preventing us from moving outside the circle. You formulating an argument for your position, accepting others or even pointing out flawed logic in our argument is inherent to breaking the circle. As you have done not done any of these three things we are stuck here until you do, or the discussion will just pass you by as has happened with much of the discussion between gmal and Tyn on this page.

BattleMoose wrote:People's opinions of what science is or the ways to do science really do vary and that's fine. Science isn't restrictive like that.

Reasonable discourse, reasonable definitions and science are actually restrictive like that.

Someone can't decide that science means a near round red fruit that comes from a tree, and I guess you could call that fine. Its just not valuable, and is in fact harmful to discussion, doing so prevents us from interacting with ideas in a meaningful way, so in that sense it is not fine.

Definitions are important so that we can all be sure we are talking about the same concepts. If we are talking about the same concepts we can then have discussion that leads us to valuable insight and conclusions. If you don't care about having discourse where people are actually discussing the same ideas then you can call it fine for people to have whatever opinion they want and define things however they want.

For those of us who want to be reasonable, who value rationality, shared definitions are the basest requirement toward that goal.

morriswalters
Posts: 7073
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:21 am UTC

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:39 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote: I think that there are lots of untestable beliefs that are facts, such as:

  1. If nothing is both red and green all over, it is metaphysically necessary that nothing is red and green all over.
  2. I shouldn't hurt people just for fun.
  3. I am not a brain in a vat.
  4. 2 + 2 = 4
Could you define fact?

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:42 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Like I said, I may be misreading it and asked for a clarification;

I am reading it as 'If there are no things that are green and red all over, then, there are no things are green and red all over'. Which is why I would expect that observing something that is green and red all over would invalidate the observation.
What do you mean by "invalidate the observation"?

Observing something red and green all over certainly wouldn't invalidate the statement, because the statement is only about if there are *no* things that are red and green all over.

(And yes, as rat4000 explained your tautological reading isn't what TGB said, either.)
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:51 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:nstead, it is a subset of philosophy because of the reason I just wrote:
"Science is a subset of philosophy because all of science is something created to inform philosophy's fundamental questions. To answer deep questions about existence we have found we need to ask more specific questions, and a lot of them and from those answers we can start to get a better answer for the fundamental ones."
Right, so, it's a matter of your personal opinion. Which we've been over.

Zcorp wrote:I've asked you multiple times for you to make an argument and not just supply an opinion. Until you do so there is little this side of the discussion can do besides circle around it.
I have provided so many examples of exceptions to this assertion, as well as brought an example of a Philosophy of Science professor into the mix as an example, that I'm once again uncertain if you're trolling or being willfully obtuse. I think you're actually confusing the way you've presented your own arguments, which have been sans numerous profound examples of philosophers contributing to science. Like I said, I've even given you fields to look into, and yet all you've done is link an xkcd comic on how the media inaccurately portrays science, and two Nature articles on issues with statistical significance in science. By all means, find some examples of philosophers contributing to science in ways I haven't considered! And before you flail at it again; yes, science was sciencing just fine before Popper.

Zcorp wrote:For those of us who want to be reasonable, who value rationality, shared definitions are the basest requirement toward that goal.
Human bodies are warm, warm things can be hot, fire is also hot, ergo, human bodies are made of fire. See! Sharing definitions in a manner so broad as to be meaningless is fun!

rat4000 wrote:It's saying that, if in this world there is nothing that is red and green all over, then there is no possible world containing anything which is red and green all over. The statements on the two sides of the "then" are (very!) different.
Observing something green and red all over in this world or another would disprove that observation, would it not? Yes, observation, not claim. But that said, sure, the statement is always valid, thus, it's a philosophical problem not a scientific one. I don't disagree that there are untestable beliefs and facts, so, this was just a misunderstanding on my part of one of the examples TGB gave.

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:And no observation could invalidate #1. Nor is it, itself, an observation. If you think it would be disproved by finding something that is red and green all over, look again: I formulated it in order to rule out this possibility.(That being said, I do think the hypothesis could be discarded and the statement would still be untestable: there is no sensory experience that would count as an observation of something that is red and green all over.)
The italicized threw me for a loop, since I missed the bolded.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26529
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: Science and Philosophy

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Sep 11, 2014 7:54 pm UTC

How do you disprove an observation, and what is the observation within the claim, "If nothing in this world is RAGAO then nothing in any possible world is RAGAO"?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)


Return to “Serious Business”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests