Category Archives: philosophy of science

Duck beaks, Umwelt and Kantian a prioris

by Matthew Cobb This article from the scientific journal Cell Reports, by Eve Schneider and colleagues from Yale, popped into my inbox this evening. I could see that it was about ducks and evolution, so I thought it would interest Jerry. It turns out to be pretty fascinating, and it tells us something important about […]

The University of Edinburgh and the John Templeton Foundation royally screw up evolution and science (and tell arrant lies) in an online course

Reader Simon sent me this video, which is a short (8-minute) lecture that’s apparently part of an online Coursera course on Science and Philosophy sponsored by the University of Edinburgh, the EIDYN Research Center run by Edinburgh’s Department of Philosophy, and the John Templeton Foundation. The presenter of this talk on creationism and evolutionary biology, S. […]

Aeon: A physicist claims that materialism is dead because it can’t explain consciousness

Quantum mechanics is deeply weird, and I can’t grasp it in the sense of trying to understand how it works using my own experience as a reference. But of course that’s true for physicists as well, and I think it’s what Feynman meant when he said “Nobody understands quantum mechanics” (see the short video below): That is, […]

Is falsifiability essential to science?

The two articles I want to discuss today are fascinating, for they raise a problem that’s now vexing many scientists (especially physicists)—the problem of testability. (Thanks to reader Mark H. for calling my attention to them.) It all goes back to the philosopher Karl Popper (1902-1994). Popper’s views about what made a theory “scientific” were immensely influential. They’re summed […]

Accommodationism from a physicist

On his Scientific American website Cross-Check, John Horgan interviews Carlo Rovelli, a physicist well known for his work on quantum gravity. They cover a number of topics, including whether there will soon be a “theory of everything” (Rovelli says no), the role of philosophy in physics, and the compatibility of science and religion.  You can […]

Pigliucci pwns Neil deGrasse Tyson; SMBC teases Pigliucci

Neil DeGrasse Tyson has criticized philosophy quite a bit recently, and so has Lawrence Krauss, though Krauss apologized for some of his more egregious statements. Tyson, however, remains obdurately anti-philosophy, and that has angered Massimo Pigliucci. Over at his new website Scientia Salon, Pigliucci takes out after Tyson in a post called “Neil DeGrasse Tyson and […]

What is “science”?

I’m not sure who writes the website The Barefoot Bum (he appears to be named “Larry” in his website cartoon), but I’m sorry I didn’t run across it a while back, for he’s written two great posts in a row (the other one, which I may discuss later, is on the dreadful dialogue between Gary Gutting […]

Philosophy of the gaps?

Humanist, poet, ex-scientist, ex-physician, philosopher, prolific writer —the list goes on—Raymond Tallis is the only person I’ve seen whose profession is described as “polymath” on Wikipedia.  But being a polymath doesn’t always guarantee you’re right.  In his column at the Guardian yesterday, “Philosophy isn’t dead yet, Tallis claims that philosophy—metaphysical philosophy—is the only way physics […]

A few words in favor of philosophy

by Greg Mayer Having just read of Jerry’s lamentable indisposition (get well!), I thought I’d write something brief that at least might get discussion going among WEIT readers till he can post again. (And in passing I note that perhaps encountering the greatness of salamanders in the wild for the first time caused a sensory […]

Must we assume naturalism to do science?

Yonatan Fishman sent me a paper  (free online) that he’s just published with Maarten Boudry (they’re both philosophers, and we’ve discussed Boudry’s work before; see here and here).  The topic is of interest to both secularists and scientists: the claim that science can study only “natural” phenomena, and is powerless before supernatural ones. If you’ve […]