• andrewk
    1.2k
    Why is it that when scientists make arguments against certain philosophical approaches they "pontificate", yet when people like Heidegger write what many consider to be meaningless nonsense, they are great thinkers?Pseudonym
    I haven't said anything about Heidegger. I don't really understand him, but I am open to the idea that there is something very interesting there. If one day I get the time to read him seriously, I might find out.

    As to scientists pontificating, the reason I'm happy to use such a term is partly that they are unremarkable scientists, like Krauss or Hawking. Most really great scientists, like Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohm and Newton, realised the significance of philosophy and how it was complementary to science, and made that known in their public comments. I only know of one great scientist that has said silly, dismissive things about philosophy, and he hasn't been mentioned in this thread yet, so I won't mention him (and in any case the thing he said was much less dogmatic and generalising than the sort of thing Hawking or Krauss have said).
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    I understand that such a position exists, but it is not proven to be the case, its a meta-ethical position, a matter for debate, and has been for thousands of years.

    Are there people within "Scientism" who are actually claiming that science proves morality is objective, certainly Sam Harris hasn't claimed that (to my knowledge). His claim is that morality seems to be objective (a meta-ethical argument), and therefore, science can tell us what is moral. You might not agree, but I don't see what is wrong with the position such as to justify a pejorative use of the term. I just sounds like an old, well-travelled philosophical position to me.
    Pseudonym
    Like I said, science can tell us what morality is. Morality is the subjective perspective of another's influence on one's personal and group goals. Are you saying that science can tell us what is right or wrong? Aren't those value judgments? How can science make a value judgment? It makes observations and simply tries to explain those observations in a consistent way.
  • Pseudonym
    878
    As to scientists pontificating, the reason I'm happy to use such a term is partly that they are unremarkable scientists, like Krauss or Hawking.andrewk

    That seems like a really odd way of assessing the value of their contribution to the debate. I think both Kraus and Hawking, though unremarkable (I might disagree about Hawking) have both shown themselves, by their work, to be eminently capable of reaching ration conclusions and considering complex ideas. I don't see anything in their failure to produce groundbreaking physics that justifies dismissing their ideas as pontification. That quite a high bar you've set yourself. Are we only to talk about the ideas of those who have made earth-shattering advances in their field?

    Your justifications, however, are your own, of course. What's more pertinent to the question are the first two elements of my response which you have yet to answer.

    Claiming that science can investigate a range of problems typically covered by philosophy is not unreasonable simply by virtue of being a claim in the future tense, we make many such claims based on current knowledge.

    Ethical naturalism does indeed propose a method by which science can answer questions about a field typically covered by philosophy.

    So your contention that it's claims are wrong because no such answers have been forthcoming, and that a belief in the possibility of future answers is pointless because no method had been proposed, are both still wrong.
  • Pseudonym
    878
    Morality is the subjective perspective of another's influence on one's personal and group goals.Harry Hindu

    How do you know this?

    How can science make a value judgment? It makes observations and simply tries to explain those observations in a consistent way.Harry Hindu

    The 'how' is, like many theories, complicated and is not easily expressed in a short post, but I will do my best.

    Physicalism requires either determinism or randomness because there is no physical means by which free-will can make un-caused alterations to the physical universe without dualism.

    If there is no free-will then the matter of what a person 'ought' to do (the value judgement about behaviour) becomes irrelevant. There is only what a person will do.

    This way science can make predictions about what people will do in response to certain behaviours together with how they will feel.
  • Harry Hindu
    1.2k
    How do you know this?Pseudonym
    What is a moral dilemma, and why is it a dilemma?

    Let me ask you this: Did Sam Harris provide the name of the scientific field that studies what is right or wrong? What about any falsifiable theories of what is moral and immoral - did he provide any of that?
  • Pseudonym
    878
    What is a moral dilemma, and why is it a dilemma?Harry Hindu

    In ethical naturalism, a moral dilemma is the rational weighing of two possible methods for achieving the 'right' outcome to see which is most 'right'. Our genetics, coupled with our environment produces the concept of what is 'right', so that can be considered a brute fact, scientific investigation can determine what course of action is most likely to bring it about.

    I'm not seeing what your problem is with this approach, you just keep reiterating that morality is subjective. Perhaps you could explain why you think it must be?

    Did Sam Harris provide the name of the scientific field that studies what is right or wrong?Harry Hindu

    No, meta-ethics is the name of the field which studies what is right or wrong. As far as I know the term was coined by GE Moore.

    What about any falsifiable theories on what if moral - did he provide any of that?Harry Hindu

    He would probably like to say he did, but personally I don't read anything very new in his work. It's really just some further justification for theories already put forward by philosophers like Williams and Foot.
  • andrewk
    1.2k
    Are we only to talk about the ideas of those who have made earth-shattering advances in their field?Pseudonym
    Certainly not. But with so many ideas around, we need to use some filter to decide which ideas to discuss. When we see somebody putting about an idea about a topic (philosophy) which they have not taken the time to investigate and of which they are patently ignorant, it fails the filter.
  • Pseudonym
    878


    I sympathise with the desire to filter new ideas by some heuristic, and if that rules out unremarkable physicists who wish to contribute to philosophical questions then so be it.

    I'm really not sure though that philosophy is the sort of subject one could reasonably be asked to have 'investigated' prior to comment. The history of philosophy is so blindly aimless that to suggest there is some canon of work leading incrementally up to the positions held nowadays in some subject is stretching the point.
  • andrewk
    1.2k
    The history of philosophy is so blindly aimless that to suggest there is some canon of work leading incrementally up to the positions held nowadays in some subject is stretching the point.Pseudonym
    Yes, and so is the history of art, literature and most worthwhile human endeavours. Yet when celebrities that know little of art or literature say ignorant things about them, they are reported because they were said by a celebrity, then disregarded (I am reminded of when Elle MacPherson said she didn't think people should read books they haven't written themself). Nobody proposes to establish a research project to investigate the 'ideas' of the celebrity.

    The same is true when celebrities like Hawking say ignorant things about philosophy. The statements are noteworthy solely because of Hawking's celebrity. It has been noted, and now can be disregarded, being of as little value as Elle MacPherson's thought bubbles.
  • Caldwell
    132
    The one we experience. Why would we have any cause to describe any other?Pseudonym

    But when you first experience anything, where did that come from? As a young child, what did you experience and how did you articulate it?
  • Pseudonym
    878


    I'm not sure what point you are trying to make by that comparison. If Elle MacPherson said she didn't think people should read books they haven't written themself, that's no less an opinion than the Professor of English Literature at Cambridge. No knowledge of literature provides anyone with an answer to the question of what books people 'should' read.

    This is something which crops up a lot on philosophy, the constant switching between objectivity and subjectivity depending on convenience. Philosophy is about providing convincing arguments, it is entirely subjective, in the same way as English literature. If a philosophy professor wanted to offer their opinion as to what they thought the speed of light might be, they would, quite rightly, be told to shut up, but it is not the same the other way round. There is no 'right' way to think about morality, there are just more or less persuasive arguments. No one's comments can be said to be 'ignorant' because there is no body of knowledge to be aware of, only a body of opinion. If I wish to voice an opinion about the beauty of a sunset is it necessary for me to have first read what everyone else has said about sunsets?
  • Wayfarer
    6k
    Would we be right in saying that you think that everything other than science is ‘entirely subjective’, but that science itself is ‘entirely objective’? Would that be a fair gloss?
  • Pseudonym
    878
    But when you first experience anything, where did that come from?Caldwell

    My senses, translated into thoughts by my brain.

    As a young child, what did you experience and how did you articulate it?Caldwell

    The world; and I didn’t articulate it because I hadn't learned how to talk.

    I'm not sure where you're going with this.
  • Pseudonym
    878


    Roughly speaking I think that's true by definition. Science is the investigation of that which is objective. I think the only grey area might be, as Quine has already pointed out, the classification of objectively measurable objects (and the classification of those classes, and so on). Thus mathematics is potentially objective, insofar as it is set theory based. But even to this point Quine was adamant that further excesses of mathematics were subjective, and issues like Russell's Paradox raised problems even for the objectivity of mathematics as we currently know it.

    Personally, and I think it is the information, not the objects which are objective, uniting both mathematics and quantum physics, but that's far from a falsifiable theory as yet.

    What can be said with some certainty, I think, is that no other field has a better claim to objectivity than science.
  • Noble Dust
    2.9k


    You seem to have answered you own question; "what is scientism"? It's your own belief system.
  • Pseudonym
    878


    Well, the headline question maybe. The main bulk of the investigation though was why the term was used pejoratively. I don't yet have a clear understanding of that.
  • Noble Dust
    2.9k


    I guess it's pejorative because a religious belief in science is no better than a religious belief in religion. And science, of course, can't lead you to that conclusion.
  • Pseudonym
    878


    That raises two questions ;

    Why do you think a belief that science can answer questions about, for example, morality is religious, but a belief that it cannot is not?

    Do you think, then, that the pejorative use of the term is something which should be admonished, or that it's OK to treat any religious belief within derision. Or maybe for some reason a religious belief in science is reprehensible but a religious belief in God is OK?
  • Nop
    25
    Why is it that when scientists make arguments against certain philosophical approaches they "pontificate", yet when people like Heidegger write what many consider to be meaningless nonsense, they are great thinkers?Pseudonym

    What do you mean by meaningless nonsense? Heidegger is a key figure in the history of philosophy, and is still one of the most influential philosophers today, as is exemplified by his relevance for contemporary cognitive science (cognitive science on skillful behavior, for example).

    When you say meaningless nonsense, it sounds like you subscribe to a Logical Positivist view of linguistics and meaning. If this does not characterize your view, Iam interested in what you mean by meaningless nonsense.
  • Wayfarer
    6k
    I don't yet have a clear understanding of that.Pseudonym

    I appreciate your frankness.

    maybe for some reason a religious belief in science is reprehensible but a religious belief in God is OK?Pseudonym

    Where is there in science a commitment to the sacredness of every individual life, that is basic to Christianity, for example?

    Do you think there are scientific reasons why one ought to treat people equally, or care for the poor and sick?

    Personally, I don’t think science has any such principles or commitments. But nor do i think that this reflects poorly on science. It’s simply not the kind of thing that science is concerned with.

    Or is it? What do you say?
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