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Distinguishing Philosophy from Science
Posted: 16 March 2007 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]
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[quote:48b2fa170a] (taken from ‘The Totality’ thread)

[b:48b2fa170a]Cory:[/b:48b2fa170a] The totality and its relationship to time and change is mind boggling to think about.

[u:48b2fa170a]Let’s examine what empiricism tells us. [/u:48b2fa170a]

The earth, ever changing, is a large container, holding smaller constituents, ever changing.

But then again, the earth is also a small constituent, a small dot among many other small dots (planets, moons) being held in the solar system, which is kind of a large container that is ever changing.

But then again, our solar system is also a small constituent, just a small dot among many constituents, and all of these tiny star systems are held in a larger container, the galaxy, which is ever changing.

But then again, the galaxy is a small constituent, one among many, just little dots, being held in a larger container, the universe, which is ever changing. 

[b:48b2fa170a]Doug:[/b:48b2fa170a] I don’t think that "empiricism" tells us these things. Perhaps "science" does. But science is not "empiricism". 

[b:48b2fa170a]Cory:[/b:48b2fa170a] Sorry, I should have said ‘empirical observation’.  Science is based on empirical observation.

[b:48b2fa170a]Doug:[/b:48b2fa170a] Science is based on more than just observation. It is also based on theorization, on induction and inference to the best explanation. It is based on logical reasoning. One cannot reduce science to mere observation.  [/quote:48b2fa170a]

Well, I realize that there is much more to science than just empirical observation - -  I should have made it clear that by emphasizing [i:48b2fa170a]empiricism[/i:48b2fa170a] I was really just trying to emphasize the basic thing that I thought distinguished Science from Philosophy. 

Thus, it seemed appropriate to start this new thread, asking:

[b:48b2fa170a]How to distinguish Philosophy from Science[/b:48b2fa170a] :?:

I think a good place to start would be for me to address your reply regarding Newton:  (see next post)

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Posted: 16 March 2007 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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[quote author=“DougSmith”]
[quote author=“CoryDuchesne”]Infinity is a concept that we arrive at via rational thought, NOT science(empirical observation).

Do you think Newton was doing “science” when he invented the calculus?

Not really.  He was only doing science insofar as he was applying mathematics to make sense of empirical observation.

Calculus, or the concept of infininity on their own are non-empirical entities.  Doing or inventing calculus is not doing science.

To me it seems neccesary to make a distinction between a purely abstract/definitional/logical theory and an empirical theory.  The former is neither supported or negated by empirical observation, and thus is not science.  Whereas the later both requires support from and can be negated by sensory experience (empirical observation), and is thus science. 

Charles Darwin is a classic example of a pure scientist.  Whereas Newton, in my view, is not.  Newton was largely a Mathematician, not to mention a theologian, who managed to do some great science with the help of mathematics.

Newton is a scientist insofar as he provides theories to explain emprical obsevations.  But if you remove the emprical theories, then you are left with just the calculus, which is not science. 

And this I think sheds light on the essential difference between Science and Philosophy.  Science depends on emprical observation.  If you removed the empirical element, then you are left with either mathematics or the pure logic of non-empirical philosophical concepts.

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Posted: 16 March 2007 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Interesting question! Particularly with scientists such as Dawkins arguing that no question is beyond the pervue of science. Now, I’m a scientist, not a philosopher, so I’m as likely to get crushed between two philosphers as two charging rhinos when I venture outside my domain. As I understand it, science emerged from philosophy as “natural philosophy” at a time when technology and the easing of centralised institutional religious domination of intellectuals began to allow empirical investigation of questions previously only approached via thought experiments and logic or deemed inappropriate to ask for religious reasons. Science seems to have a more limitied bailiwick, focusing on the world of observable phenomena, though that world expands as our technology allows us to observe more of the universe. Science can venture slightly beyond observation and experiment (as does theoretical physics), but if it goes too far beyond what experiment can validate or disprove, it ceases to be science. Philosophy, I imagine, can be the application of human reason to any area of inquiry regardless of whether observation and experiment can be applied to aid our understanding. That makes it both more powerful than science, in that our current technology does not limit what we can investigate, and less powerful in that observation and experiment does not tie philosophical inquiry as tightly to reality as scientific inquiry. Doug’s the official philosopher here, so I’ll defer to him to define philosophy for us. But maybe even the errors in my understanding will be instructive.

As to the questions raised in the original theread, I’m not sure I exactly understand what’s being asked. It seems to be whether infinity and eternity are scientific concepts or philosophical ones, with the distinction being whether they arise from empirical observation or some less restricted exercise of reason. I suppose one could argue that science cannot directly observe either the infinite or the eternal, since the observation would have to be unending and no conclusion could ever be drawn. So, in this sense these may not be scientific concepts. Still, they have heuristic value in terms of generating testable hypotheses. One can disprove that something is infinite or eternal by finding a single example of that thing being limited in quantity or duration. And science can certainly make probability statements in the absence of absolute evidence. If no empirical evidence exists or can be generated that anything is infinite or everlasting, we can at leats say that the liklihood that anything will have these qualities seems low. Anyway, I think I’m getting in over my head here, which is why I try to avoid this topic section of the boards generally. I’ll be interested in what the more philosophically-minded and educated have to say.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Clearly science must involve empirical observation and theory testing. That is perhaps the one place where science differs from philosophy. Usually the philosophical questions do not appear to allow of empirical confirmation or disconfirmation. (However, appearances can be deceptive!)

As Brennen pointed out, this distinction between “science” and “philosophy” is very recent—not much more than a century old.

As for Newton, he was a “natural philosopher” in the classic sense. He founded the science of physics, developed mathematical methods which made it possible, got involved in biblical numerology and alchemy later in life, along with many other things.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I’m probably going to get crushed, but just to get my two cents in, it seems “it” ceases to be philosophy and becomes a science when a definite knowledge concerning the subject becomes possible.

Below I pasted the words of Bertrand Russell on “The Value of Philosophy” who phrased it much better than I ever could:

“The whole study of the heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once included in philosophy; Newton’s great work was called “the mathematical principles of natural philosophy.” Similarly, the study of the human mind, which was, until very lately, a part of philosophy, has now been separated from philosophy and has become the science of psychology. Thus, to a great extent, the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences, while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to form the residue which is called philosophy.”

More pasting but I feel it too applies to the topic:

“If Mysticism had been called upon to decide upon the truth about modern astronomy and evolution, it would have inclined to the more comfortable view that the Earth is the center of the Universe and that man is a distinct species. Even after reason and experience have shown us different truths about our Earth and ourselves, we have disquieting feelings which must be overcome by the rigorous logic of thoughts and things. Mysticism tends to make us sympathetic toward true knowledge, but cannot tell us where to find the truth or what the truth should be like when found.”

taken from Outline of Philosophy part II
Charles Shaw, Ph.D. Copyright 1929

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Posted: 17 March 2007 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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[quote author=“skepticdave”]I’m probably going to get crushed, but just to get my two cents in, it seems “it” ceases to be philosophy and becomes a science when a definite knowledge concerning the subject becomes possible.

Yes, this and the Russell quote are very well-trodden ways people have used to distinguish science and philosophy. NB: on this method, mathematics and logic are sciences.

I don’t really know that I agree with the distinction, however. The question is what we count as “definite knowledge”, or in Russell’s phrase “definite answers”. How are we to decide when answers are “definite”? I am quite definite about my belief that free will is compatible with determinism. Does that make my belief in compatibilism a “scientific” belief?

Others disagree with me about free will, of course. But other people also disagree with darwinian evolution ... so agreement or disagreement can’t be determinative as to whether an answer is “definite”.

So how then do we determine if an answer is “definite”?

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Posted: 17 March 2007 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“skepticdave”]I’m probably going to get crushed, but just to get my two cents in, it seems “it” ceases to be philosophy and becomes a science when a definite knowledge concerning the subject becomes possible.

I am quite definite about my belief that free will is compatible with determinism. Does that make my belief in compatibilism a “scientific” belief?

So how then do we determine if an answer is “definite”?

I consider the claim as well and not just the answer.
I’m at a loss to draw the boundaries of demarcation but I do think falsification is an important part.

Duhem-Quine argued that it’s not possible to prove that a statement is falsified but that falsification occurs when the scientific community agrees that the statement has been falsified.

What evidence can be discovered or what experiment could be ran to falsify the claims of compatibilism or pet psychics for that matter? Can those claims even be proven wrong or are they just staying safe by not being able to be falsified? Claims that the Earth is round and not at the center of the solar system can be falsified though unlike the claims of a pet psychic.

I tend to agree that the subject matter has to be falsifiable in order to be determined scientific. String theory is unfalsifiable as of now because physicists lack the necessary technology to falsify it but that’s the difference….....it can be, its claims can be falsified.

Then again, maybe I’m arguing for the differences between science and pseudo-science not science and philsosophy.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 11:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Yes, well, falsifiability is a different well-trodden way that people have attempted to distinguish a scientific theory from ... well, non-science.

Here “falsifiability” is being used in a technical way, whereby something is falsifiable if it is possible to come up with some experiment, the result of which would either confirm or falsify the theory. Standardly this is done by having the theory make some unusual empirical prediction, then run the experiment necessary to see if the prediction comes true or not.

There are a number of problems with this approach, which we need not get into. (One problem is the sort of Quinean worry you point out—it is always possible to reformulate a theory within a scientific context if a false prediction occurs. And a single falsified prediction may be because of a faulty experimental setup or poorly designed experiment, so really more is required than a single falsification. Exactly what more is required is something of a complex, fluid and vague matter).

It’s not clear what sort of “prediction” compatibilism about free will would make, so using the criterion of falsifiability we would say that the theory that free will is compatible with determinism is not a scientific theory. (Then, we might add, it is a philosophical theory).

Neither does mathematics or logic per se make any real sort of empirical “prediction”, at least not ones that could be falsified. However, we certainly would not want to say that that makes mathematical or logical proofs any less epistemologically sound.

But as you note this method will also distinguish scientific theories from the sort of creationism that always finds ways around any given refutation ... if there’s always going to be a “god of the gaps”, then creationism is pseudoscience. I’d hesitate to say it’s “philosophy”, since it seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between someone setting up a theory that appears to be scientific yet is not, and someone involved in standardly philosophical reasoning. The former is a sort of sleight-of-hand cheat, and the latter need not be.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Yes, well, falsifiability is a different well-trodden way that people have attempted to distinguish a scientific theory from ... well, non-science.

Here “falsifiability” is being used in a technical way, whereby something is falsifiable if it is possible to come up with some experiment, the result of which would either confirm or falsify the theory. Standardly this is done by having the theory make some unusual empirical prediction, then run the experiment necessary to see if the prediction comes true or not.

There are a number of problems with this approach, which we need not get into. (One problem is the sort of Quinean worry you point out—it is always possible to reformulate a theory within a scientific context if a false prediction occurs. And a single falsified prediction may be because of a faulty experimental setup or poorly designed experiment, so really more is required than a single falsification. Exactly what more is required is something of a complex, fluid and vague matter).

It’s not clear what sort of “prediction” compatibilism about free will would make, so using the criterion of falsifiability we would say that the theory that free will is compatible with determinism is not a scientific theory. (Then, we might add, it is a philosophical theory).

Neither does mathematics or logic per se make any real sort of empirical “prediction”, at least not ones that could be falsified. However, we certainly would not want to say that that makes mathematical or logical proofs any less epistemologically sound.

But as you note this method will also distinguish scientific theories from the sort of creationism that always finds ways around any given refutation ... if there’s always going to be a “god of the gaps”, then creationism is pseudoscience. I’d hesitate to say it’s “philosophy”, since it seems to me that there is a distinction to be made between someone setting up a theory that appears to be scientific yet is not, and someone involved in standardly philosophical reasoning. The former is a sort of sleight-of-hand cheat, and the latter need not be.

Is “well trodden” a euphemism for “old and outdated” Doug? :(
(kidding)

I do not think falsification implies anykind of confirmation. To faslify one hypothesis does not prove the other. If then the theory is reformulated that is the proper thing to do, that is doing science.  Popper noted no theory can be confirmed, only falsified.

Part of scientific methodology, as you know, is 3rd party neutral verification. The results of an experiment and how it was run must be published in a peer reviewed journal so others can duplicate the experiment. A one time go around doesn’t hold much weight and this is also a quality control procedure against “poor design” or “faulty setups” etc.

“In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.”~ S.J. Gould

I would assert that mathematics and logic do make predictions that can be falsified.  I’ve made enough mathematical predictions in my checking account that were falsified….........expensively falsified! :oops:

As far as logic goes, I’ve yet to think of a contradiction that was true. For example- Frege and his use of sets and the refutation Russell followed with.

Say through reductio ad absurdum logicians can show if a proposition is true or false even if they don’t know how to construct a proof. They simply show its negation leads to a contradiction ( QM notwithstanding, our macro world does not operate by the rules of quantum mechanics and sub-atomic particles).

Creationism, hence god, is always a slight of hand refutation as you pointed out. Afterall, god is supposed to be omnimax. Well then…..............that’s just too damn convenient for them. That’s not natural,  that’s not science….....it’s magic.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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[quote author=“skepticdave”]Is “well trodden” a euphemism for “old and outdated” Doug? :(
(kidding)

No, just that it’s nothing new ... :wink:

[quote author=“skepticdave”]I do not think falsification implies anykind of confirmation. To faslify one hypothesis does not prove the other. If then the theory is reformulated that is the proper thing to do, that is doing science.  Popper noted no theory can be confirmed, only falsified.

Well ... I’m not talking Popper precisely, but history of science. If you look at the famous observation of the 1919 eclipse by Eddington you will see this in vivid action. In one observation, Newton’s theory was considered falsified and Einstein’s confirmed. (There are of course historical complications to this story ... but this is how Einstenian relativity changed minds within the physicist community, historically speaking).

[quote author=“skepticdave”]Part of scientific methodology, as you know, is 3rd party neutral verification. The results of an experiment and how it was run must be published in a peer reviewed journal so others can duplicate the experiment. A one time go around doesn’t hold much weight and this is also a quality control procedure against “poor design” or “faulty setups” etc.

I don’t disagree, obviously. But again, Eddington’s experiment was a one-off, and had the effect of demolishing Newtonian mechanics in a single blow.

So ... there’s a certain vagueness to so-called “falsification”. Sometimes it’s cut-and-dried, other times we need extensive peer-review and experimental verification. Falsification is only possible against a certain theoretical framework, and occurs in a particular theoretical context. So I’m cautioning that we need a nuanced view. One does not falsify by pressing some button ... not usually, at any rate; and one cannot write up a precise recipe for what counts.

[quote author=“skepticdave”]I would assert that mathematics and logic do make predictions that can be falsified.  I’ve made enough mathematical predictions in my checking account that were falsified….........expensively falsified! :oops:

Not really. The falsification of a mathematical or logical proof is an inconsistency. Now, you may not be aware of this inconsistency, but that’s a separate issue ... there is no consistent theory (that is, no theory at all) that could possibly be true if mathematics or logic is inconsistent.

Here I am separating the fact of logico-mathematical truth from the epistemic matter of whether or not we are aware of it. The same problem does not come up in our physics examples: Newtonian mechanics was perfectly consistent, but falsified. There isn’t any similar sense to be made of a consistent mathematics where 1+1 = 3. So there isn’t any real sense in which mathematics could be falsified.

[quote author=“skepticdave”]As far as logic goes, I’ve yet to think of a contradiction that was true.

Right. And since mathematics reduces to logic plus set theory, mathematics is in the same basket.

[quote author=“skepticdave”]Say through reductio ad absurdum logicians can show if a proposition is true or false even if they don’t know how to construct a proof. They simply show its negation leads to a contradiction ( QM notwithstanding, our macro world does not operate by the rules of quantum mechanics and sub-atomic particles).

Right. One classical logically valid way to prove a theorem is to prove that its negation leads to a contradiction.

Not sure what that has to do with QM however. QM may be odd, but it is certainly not logically contradictory.

[quote author=“skepticdave”]Creationism, hence god, is always a slight of hand refutation as you pointed out. Afterall, god is supposed to be omnimax. Well then…..............that’s just too damn convenient for them. That’s not natural,  that’s not science….....it’s magic.

Yep.

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Posted: 17 March 2007 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Compatibilism isn’t new either.

Also, do not fail to note about the Eddington wiki entry:

“However, recent historical examinations of the case have shown that the raw data were inconclusive, and that Eddington was arbitrarily selective in choosing which results to use. For a detailed account, see predictive power.”

Eddington didn’t demolish Newton in a single blow, which is all the more reason for 3rd party neutral verification. Newton may have been wrong because he conjectured that gravity was spontaneous, but that’s just it, it was conjecture and nothing else. No mathematics or any evidence to suggest it or support it. Conjecture and theory are two wholly different paradigms. Not to mention his equations were used to put men on the moon and bring them back to Earth. That’s no coincedence.

I wont attempt to make that recipe but some things are easily falsified and some things not so. That doesn’t negate falsification altogether.

Newtonian mechanics was consistent with what when it was falsified?

“The falsification of a mathematical or logical proof is an inconsistency.
Now, you may not be aware of this inconsistency, but that’s a separate issue ... there is no consistent theory (that is, no theory at all) that could possibly be true if mathematics or logic is inconsistent. “

So then mathematics and logic are falsifiable then, right? You call it an inconsistency - I call it a contradiction yet correct logic and mathematics are consistent.

Consider your statement:
“there is no consistent theory (that is, no theory at all) that could possibly be true if mathematics or logic is inconsistent. “

The inconsistency is in the misapplication. Is natural selection or compatibilism mathematically consistent or inconsistent? That’s just it, they’re not predictable with mathematics at all so it doesn’t even apply but when mathematics are wrongly applied that doesn’t negate mathematics either.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 04:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Newtonian mechanics was self-consistent when it was falsified. Obviously it made a false prediction, in that sense it wasn’t consistent with the predicted outcome of Eddington’s experiment. But that isn’t the same as saying that Newtonian mechanics was “inconsistent”. One might say it was “inconsistent with observation”.

Certainly, mathematics can be misapplied. But it cannot be disproven or falsified in the same sense that a scientific theory can. Mathematics per se doesn’t make any empirical prediction; or insofar as it does, its prediction is simple logical consistency. (I say “mathematics per se” because obviously mathematical tools are necessary to construct scientific theories. When they are used in a particular theoretical context—making lawlike claims about certain physical objects and properties—they will of course end up making predictions).

The quote from the Wiki entry is why I said, above: “There are of course historical complications to this story ... but this is how Einstenian relativity changed minds within the physicist community, historically speaking.” His experiment historically speaking is what changed the minds of physicists worldwide about Einstein’s theory.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
As I understand it, science emerged from philosophy as “natural philosophy” at a time when technology and the easing of centralised institutional religious domination of intellectuals began to allow empirical investigation of questions previously only approached via thought experiments and logic or deemed inappropriate to ask for religious reasons.

Yes, that’s right.  The term ‘science’ didn’t even exist until shortly after people like Galileo started challenging the validity of common theories using empirical observations.  These theories that Galileo was attacking, were highly Aristotlien.  Interestingly, Aristotle had once himself made a rebelious break away from Plato’s assertion that sensory experience was merely illusionary and could not provide truth.  Aristotle disagreed and created a body of work based largely on empricial observation.  These observations, being limited interpretations(as all empirical observation is), were transmitted many centuries into the future and were gradually Christianized, creating the egg from which ‘the creature that was the scientific revolution’ hatched from.       

Galileo is a great example of one of the first philosophers to negate the common theories about the world at that time using empirical observation.  Galileo detected imperfections (sun-spots) in what was assumed to be a ‘heavenly body’ (the sun) that by definition wasn’t allowed to have physical imperfections.  Galileo’s simple empirical observation was quite a controversy. 


[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
As to the questions raised in the original theread, I’m not sure I exactly understand what’s being asked. It seems to be whether infinity and eternity are scientific concepts or philosophical ones with the distinction being whether they arise from empirical observation or some less restricted exercise of reason.

 

That’s right.  And I maintain that eternity and infinity are philosophical concepts (but infinity is also a mathematical concept). 

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
I suppose one could argue that science cannot directly observe either the infinite or the eternal, since the observation would have to be unending and no conclusion could ever be drawn. So, in this sense these may not be scientific concepts.

We can be absolutely certain that they are not scientific concepts, and this is because science can only make finite observations.  In fact, sensory observation is by definition finite. 

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
Still, they have heuristic value in terms of generating testable hypotheses. One can disprove that something is infinite or eternal by finding a single example of that thing being limited in quantity or duration.

There would be no need of running such a scientific test. A ‘thing’ is by definition finite.  Science can only test what is finite. 

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]
If no empirical evidence exists or can be generated that anything is infinite or everlasting, we can at leats say that the liklihood that anything will have these qualities seems low.

A thing or form can only ever be limited.  However, if we go by what pure logic tells us, the existence of a thing, must, by logical neccesity be the effect of infinite causes, and the totality of all things, must, by logical neccesity be infinite, meaning that it has no begining or end.  If we don’t accept this, then the only alternative is to assume that something finite can come from nothing.  Which is illogical.  Another irrational assumption is that something finite can exist without a cause.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 06:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Newton discovered the strength of gravity but had no explanation of gravity. For Newton to conjecture the force of gravity was spontaneous, hence faster than the speed of light, was incorrect yes but Newtonian mechanics at this point about gravity is incomplete rather than straight out wrong (maybe I’m being biased for Newton here- I guess wrong/incomplete could be considered one in the same). The rest of Newton’s laws still hold true to this day on the macro scale.

Although Newtonian mechanics can not explain Mercury’s odd orbit, his laws combined with Keplers laws of planetary movement explain and predict, with the use of mathematics, the orbits of the other planets. True, it took Einstein’s GR theory to solve the riddle of the orbit of Mercury but Newton was and still is right about the other aspects of astrophysics.

Would a more accurate description of the differences between science and philosophy be that science focuses on the problems of facts through the methodology of relying on sense datum and mathematics, whereas, philosophy focuses on the methodologies and conceptual analyses?

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Posted: 18 March 2007 06:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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[quote author=“skepticdave”]
I’m probably going to get crushed, but just to get my two cents in, it seems “it” ceases to be philosophy and becomes a science when a definite knowledge concerning the subject becomes possible.

‘Definite’ knowledge?  If by definite you mean knowledge that is absolutely certain, then no, science will never be able to produce such knowledge.  However, scientific data of course can produce predictions that are highly, highly probable. 


Scientific theories are distinguished in that they are always, in part, empirically based, and thus their truth depends on the support of further sensory experience (empirical observation) which is always inherently uncertain. A scientific truth is always subject to being destroyed by further sensory experience.  Philosophical and mathematical theories are distinguished in that they need not be supported or negated by empirical observation/sensory experience - they are absolutely true because they exist in a definitional construct that is based on pure logic.   

In mathematics, the number 1 can be understood purely in the context of other mathematical entities - for example, 2, 3, 4, etc. 

Whereas, it is really only in the realm of pure philosophy that we can conclude something like “all things have causes.” The reason such a conclusion is purely a philosophical one is because there isn’t a scientific experiment that can be devised which can confirm or deny this theory. Such a conclusion is the result of philosophical reasoning alone.
 
[quote author=“Scepticdave”] I would assert that mathematics and logic do make predictions that can be falsified. I’ve made enough mathematical predictions in my checking account that were falsified….........expensively falsified!

haha - yes, but the prediction was false because you assumed something about the empirical sensory world that wasn’t true.  There is nothing inherently irrational about believing that subtracting 100 from 120 = 20.

This mathematical truth does not need external support from the empirical world. 

However, if we move into the empirical world, unforseen problems will result from giving a $100 cheque to a store clerk to pay for an item, when only $50 is in your bank account.  By having logical reasons for assuming that there is $120, you are not neccesarily being illogical, but rather, you are simply unaware of other variables which, if you knew them, would change the form of your logic.  Acknowledging your check bounce and taking responsibility, is moving from one form of logic to another.  Neither mindstate was more logical then the other (unless you had absolutely no grounds for assuming the incorrect ammount to begin with, and simply believed you had $120 (when you really only had $50) because of emotional preference) 

Furthermore, if you argued with the clerk that $100 substracted from $50 = $20, then you would indeed be irrational.

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Posted: 18 March 2007 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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[quote author=“DougSmith”]
I am quite definite about my belief that free will is compatible with determinism. Does that make my belief in compatibilism a “scientific” belief?

I would say insofar as your belief rests upon empirical evidence, and insofar as you feel that your belief could be negated by further evidence you presently don’t have, then it is a scientific belief.  I assume your belief rests upon the relative sense of how things seem to you - so from my view, your belief in compatabilism is a scientific belief.   
A philosophical belief is one which, logically, can never be empirically supported or invalidated.

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