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Thread: What useful stuff has philosophy accomplished for man-kind?

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    Elder Contributor Underseer's Avatar
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    In his opening statements, this scientist openly questions how he could have ever functioned without studying a branch of philosophy called the philosophy of science.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Yeah. Its a convenient cathbag for all those scientists who answered questions about how to do science as they came upon them. the scientist could, just as easily and practically more effectively, searched through history of science finding scientists who made advances in methodology them read them without having to decouple empirical naturalism from rationalism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Yeah. Its a convenient cathbag for all those scientists who answered questions about how to do science as they came upon them. the scientist could, just as easily and practically more effectively, searched through history of science finding scientists who made advances in methodology them read them without having to decouple empirical naturalism from rationalism.
    How would you tell whether those historical scientists had made a mistake?

    You don't need to study statistics to do science, since there are several computer-based statistical packages that will do all the math for you. But the quality of your work will be better if you understand why things are done in a certain way, and under what circumstances the assumptions you're relying on might change. Similarly for philosophy of science. For some areas of science, these really aren't big concerns, so a lot depends on what area you're working in.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Togo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Yeah. Its a convenient cathbag for all those scientists who answered questions about how to do science as they came upon them. the scientist could, just as easily and practically more effectively, searched through history of science finding scientists who made advances in methodology them read them without having to decouple empirical naturalism from rationalism.
    How would you tell whether those historical scientists had made a mistake?

    You don't need to study statistics to do science, since there are several computer-based statistical packages that will do all the math for you. But the quality of your work will be better if you understand why things are done in a certain way, and under what circumstances the assumptions you're relying on might change. Similarly for philosophy of science. For some areas of science, these really aren't big concerns, so a lot depends on what area you're working in.
    Other than you did a better job of writing your post there is nothing relevant to my thesis in your post.

    Just in case the problem is with my presentation I'm going to repeat my thesis. My point was that scientists solve problems particular to their problem and time. New procedures are usually contrasted with those who conducted similar kinds of research, by topic, process, or both. The test of methodology is continued successful outcomes just as it is the test of theory. My understanding of the problems with philosopher generated theories of science are based on the use of rational method in developing theory for empirical methodology and by scientists then misreading these theories then interpreting them in rational rather than empirical terms.

    Confounding these processes with opinions based on rational analysis by those who aren't invested in the practice where the methodology was developed is, in my opinion (I insert an assumption forcing one to find ways to discount appeal to authority as an example of what I'm getting at) not very helpful since there are issues with assumptions resident in rational analysis that detract from analysis and test methodology.

    I use Operationalism developed by Percy Williams Bridgman as a case in point. The initial paragraph of Stanford Encyclopedia's article on Operationalism ( http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/operationalism/ ) makes my points very clear.

    First is the taking of the substance of a Physicist and contorting it into a policio-philosophical theory

    The operationalist point of view, first expounded at length in that book, initially found many advocates among practicing physicists and those inspired by the tradition of American pragmatism or the new philosophy of logical positivism. It is highly doubtful that Bridgman intended to advance a precise and universal theory of meaning, or any systematic philosophical theory at all. His writings were primarily “reflections of a physicist”[i] rooted in experimental practice and aimed at articulating the scientific method from a first-person point of view. However, as Bridgman's ideas gained currency they were shaped into a general philosophical doctrine of “operationalism” or “operationism”, and in that form became very influential in many areas, especially in methodological debates in psychology.
    Connecting to American Pragmatism and logical positivism are rational representations designed to frame Operationalism within a philosophical theory of science construct leads one from the first person illustrations to erroneous doctrinal statements

    Second this construction was a spirit of the times (zeitgeist) perfect for those who weren't as rigorously trained or experienced in empirical methods as Bridgman to jump to philosophical texts as justification for such as radical behaviorism and the like. Even SS Stevens, who should have known better, apparently agreed that one could conduct meaningful interval and ratio scales without really every having a physical dimension already proved in place. One need only look at the titles of succeeding paragraphs in the article to realize there was real consideration that private operations were useful or relevant.

    Finally I agree
    the quality of your work will be better if you understand why things are done in a certain way, and under what circumstances the assumptions you're relying on might change.
    Its just I prefer a first person approach to doing so. Using intermediaries who may have agendas or disciplines which are juggling competing theories misrepresenting what one does or says for whatever reason is not to be preferred over data from those in the field who are actually doing the work. the test about whether they are successful is wrapped up in the success (utility) of their work.

    We've been here before and we'll be here again.

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