Science and Philosophy: A Love-Hate Relationship

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Sebastian de Haro
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preprint description
In this paper I review the problematic relationship between science and philosophy; in particular, I will address the question of whether science needs philosophy, and I will offer some positive (if incomplete) perspectives that should be helpful in developing a synergetic relationship between the two. I will review three lines of reasoning often employed in arguing that philosophy is useless for science: a) philosophy’s death diagnosis (‘philosophy is dead’) and what follows from it; b) the historic-agnostic argument/challenge “show me examples where philosophy has been useful for science, for I don’t know of any”; c) the division of property argument (or: philosophy and science have different subject matters, therefore philosophy is useless for science). These arguments will be countered with three contentions to the effect that the natural sciences need philosophy. I will: a) point to the fallacy of anti-philosophicalism (or: ‘in order to deny the need for philosophy, one must do philosophy’) and examine the role of paradigms and presuppositions (or: why science can’t live without philosophy); b) point out why the historical argument fails (in an example from quantum mechanics, alive and kicking); c) briefly sketch some domains of intersection of science and philosophy and how the two can have mutual synergy. I will conclude with some implications of this synergetic relationship between science and philosophy for the liberal arts and sciences.

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