philosophy of science

Thomas Kuhn and documentary film

I just listened to the new episode of Hi-Phi Nation podcast by Barry Lam. It is called “The Ashes of Truth”. Barry Lam tries to connect story telling with philosophy and does a great job. In this Episode you hear a story about Errol Morris a oscar winning documentary filmer. Before his career as film director he was a pupil of Thomas Kuhn.

Thomas Kuhn vs. Errol Morristhomas_kuhn

I always like hearing about big names and what kind of person they were. As it seems, Thomas Kuhn was not a very kind person. Even though he was well known for this sceptical arguments about the progress of science, he was a very dogmatic person, Morris says. Morris quit his career as a philosopher because of some trouble with Kuhn and became a film director.

The episode is interesting, not only because you can hear some stories about Kuhn as a person and about his theory, but also because it shows that a documentary film director has some problems of a similar kind as a philosopher of sciene. Do our scientific theories really represent the world as it is? Or does the fact that every scientific theory has a specific perspective lead to scepticism and anti-realism.

Realism vs. anti-realism in science and other fields

When the film director of a documentary tries to tell a story about a specific event in the past where she was not part of, and the only evidence she has are the statements of the interviews she takes, does she depict the event as it really was? Or does she just represent the memories of the interviewed people? Can a documentary depict an event as it really was? Can we be realists about documentary films?

Morris think we can be realists in documentary as we can be realists in the philosophy of science. He things Kuhn was wrong and Kuhn was a bad person (he uses some more offensive description of Kuhn as I want to state here). I don’t know about Kuhn as a person, but I will try to get a good picture of his theory. ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is lying on my table right now.


Just something to read!

America has done it. They really voted trump. Now it is time for some thinking. Noam Chomsky, as always, is on the forefront. He says, the republican party is one of the most dangerous organizations on the globe, especially as they deny climate change.

Trump in the White House: An Interview With Noam Chomsky

Massimo Pigliucci answer to some articles that ask, again, what philosophy is good for, is, as always, great and I have to totally agree.

The never ending discussion: what’s philosophy good for?

I am following Rani Lill Anjum for quite some time now on twitter. As I am getting more concered with causality myself, it seems demanded to take a closer look at her work. Here is some example:

Causation in Scientific Methods | Rani Lill Anjum

Another Contribution to Ask A Philosopher

zombie1There is another contribution from me at Ask A Philosopher. This is the question:

Tomislav asked:

Are metaphysics and epistemology keys to interdisciplinary approach in science?

This is my line of reasoning. Science does experiments and experiments generate data. Data itself has no value, in the sense that to gain knowledge we need to interpret that data and see how it ‘fits’ in the existing knowledge. Also, to make an experiment we need to make some assumptions, both metaphysical and epistemological.

For example, to investigate the nature of subatomic particles, we need to make a metaphysical assumption that ‘the outer world’ exists and that such particles exist. Furthermore, we need to make an epistemological assumption that ‘the outer world’ is knowable and that experiments are a knowledge-generating method. So, philosophy can act (or acts?) as the first and the last step in scientific method.

Since philosophy can engage itself into answering a question from multiple perspectives (read multiple science disciplines) and philosophical assumptions are needed to do science can philosophy act as a glue that enables interdisciplinary approach? Also, is philosophy inherently interdisciplinary? Can we use this for better understanding of interdisciplinary?

See my full answer here. Check out all the other interesting questions and answers also.