Comments/Philosophy and Science
May 23, 2010

First off, good news! The disqus comments section is finally functional. My hope is that a lot of people will take advantage of it—philosophy is a continuous dialogue or it’s barely anything.

Next: I wanted to answer in a little more detail Emily’s question from my previous post: “How do we reconcile philosophy and science?” The answer, I think, is that we don’t really have to; any philosophical theory that’s directly contradicted by empirical evidence should just be discarded. Or, at the very least, there needs to be a philosophical theory that can reasonably call into doubt the empirical evidence.

But remember, science itself is a philosophical construct. We wouldn’t have it without Aristotle or David Hume, and both of them—along with any reasonable proponent of the scientific method—recognized its limitations as well as its strengths. Just because empirical observation can lead to value-independent explanations of causality does not necessarily mean that value does not exist in some sense; it just means that discussions of “value” are outside the realm of scientific inquiry (at least for the time being; metaethical naturalists, those who believe that morality is a natural fact, would disagree).

Those moments when science seems to most undermine philosophical inquiry are when philosophers are no longer content to address the philosophy of science, and instead play at being actual scientists. For an example of why that’s never a good idea, see here.

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