The Science-Philosophy Wars (Again)

Bill Nye rocked the boat by answering the question of a philosophy student “Does Science Have All the Answers or Should We Do Philosophy Too?” in this video:

I think Massimo Pigliucci already commented on everything Bill Nye was wrong about in this video. Usually you think we are over this s**t of scientists or even pseudo-scientists talking about philosophy without even knowing an up to date philosophical paper.

Of cause there are a lot of people who try to defend Philosophy. But some do so by having a wrong picture of philosophy on their own. For example Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry in this article for The Week. He starts with some good points but then it is getting weird. First of all he is holding on on the good old destinction between philosophy and science. Of cause there are distinctions but they are not essential. There is no philosophical method that helps us to get to true believes by extra scientific methods. There are just some reliable ways to come to true believes. Philosophy is not science per se but it is not something complete different. He writes:

“After all, as a group, scientists have an obvious objective interest in experimental science being recognized as the only path to valuable knowledge, and therefore an interest in disdaining other paths to knowledge as less valid.”

So if there is not THE scientific method compared to THE philosophical method then this false dychotomie cannot be put forward neither by scientists nor by philosophers. But then comes the especially hard part:

“And then there’s another factor at play. Many, though certainly not all, of the scientists who opine loudest about the uselessness of philosophy are public atheists. The form of atheism they promote is usually known as “eliminative materialism,” or the notion that matter is the only thing that exists. This theory is motivated by “scientism,” or the notion that the only knowable things are knowable by science. Somewhat paradoxically, these propositions are essentially religious — to dismiss entire swathes of human experience and human thought requires a venture of faith. They’re also not very smart religion, since they end up simply shouting away inconvenient propositions.”

Seriously, this is just mixing things together that belong seperated. Eliminiative Materialism is not the same as saying that “matter is the only thing that exists”. Yes it is a form of materialism but it is one special kind of it. Not every form of materialism is eliminative. And Atheism is not the same as eliminative materialism, nor the same as physicalism. You can be a dualist that is still a atheist. And scientism is even another thing. (One thing that many people are just afraid of because they have a wrong picture of the relation between science, philosophy and common sense.”

So scientism is religious? Give me a pause. Scientism proper entails fallibilism which is a form of anti-foundationalism. Every believe could turn out to be wrong when we have evidence against it. And if we have good (scientific) reasons to be atheists and materialists then that is not a religious belief but scientific hyptheses.

So you see both sides of the debate have to update their views about science and philosophy otherwise this is just a polemical battle.



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