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Go to: Philosophy is junk

Tom Morris's Avatar Jump to comment 221 by Tom Morris

Comment 220 by bliszs :

how can it make any creative or useful content regarding physics, when it is not considered science, neither is it written by physicists. so what even is it, the views are as meaningless as religious views. concepts that have been squeezed dry of any bearing in reality, or even any meaning at all.

Why do you think that the success criteria of metaphysics is its contribution to physics? Is the success criteria of geology its contribution to forensic pathology?

I'm sure your response to my question is just lost in the ether.

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 22:36:29 UTC | #481506

Go to: Philosophy is junk

Tom Morris's Avatar Jump to comment 219 by Tom Morris

Comment 218 by bliszs :

"The people who do work on philosophy of computing tend to have had experience in computer science, and many of them have worked in computer science departments." what is this, sample size 1?

No, the sample size is - as I said - the authors of a reasonably-sized stack of papers I've read on the subject and some books.

i don't understand why i need to argue metaphysics is junk, if its not science, then what is it?

You said metaphysics is "philosophy mak[ing] guesses about physics". I'd like to know why you think that. What books or papers in contemporary metaphysics you've read such that you can derive such a broad conclusion?

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 20:37:45 UTC | #481486

Go to: Philosophy is junk

Tom Morris's Avatar Jump to comment 217 by Tom Morris

Comment 215 by bliszs :

everything is a subset of physics, except maths.

"Can a computer think?"

completely the kind of crap a philosopher would ask. a philosopher tries to answer if a computer can think, with no understanding of computers. How can you expect to integrate areas of knowledge together, when you have no long working knowledge of an area. You will never have new ideas, you have only to work with the basic level of "computer science" that you are taught in philosophy.

How the hell do you know that people working on philosophy of computing have no training in computer science? Not that "Can a computer think?" is really a question about computers - it's a question about minds. Not even that: it's a sort of Socratic incitement to clarify theories about minds. A sort of boiled-down prompt to clarifying one's positions on mind. It's got about as much to do with computing as the question "Why did Adolf Hitler die?" has to do with human biology - below the surface level of the question is the real question (something like "given the particular theory you've espoused about mind, what else beyond human beings exhibit the particular properties you've said belong to minds?").

Take an equivalent question: "do thermometers know things?" This is not a question about thermometers. It's a question about externalist theories of knowledge. The reason one might ask the question "do thermometers know things?" is because it is widely held that to know something one ought to have available to them some reasons for that belief. If we meet someone and they say that they know God exists, and you say 'why?' and they can provide you no reasons at all, you've got a pretty good justification for thinking they don't actually know God exists. But if we meet someone who is in a coma, and someone suggests that the person knows that the earth is round, we can hardly say it's false - even though due to their comatose state they can't express to us why it is that they think the earth is round (they don't have to be a scientist or anything: "my school science teacher told me so and I have no reason to think s/he was lying to me" is a perfectly good answer) - given that we think that people who cannot express the reasons for their knowledge can still have knowledge, why not push that question a little further and question why the knowledge-bearer needs to be conscious at all? If a comatose person can know things, why not a thermometer?

Under the "philosophers need to know more about science!" line of argument, this kind of speculation is not possible unless the person knows the chemical makeup of the thermometer. It makes no difference at all, of course. This doesn't mean that the question about knowledge is interesting or relevant or worth asking - it may be, it may not be - that's sort of a matter of taste. But in wondering about the question, lack of a degree in chemistry isn't really the issue. The same seems to be true with the computing question - I know a fair bit of computer science, although I admit I'm not a low-level whiz. And nothing I know about computer science really helps illuminate the question "Can computers think?" because - as I said - that is really a question about minds, not computers.

The people who do work on philosophy of computing tend to have had experience in computer science, and many of them have worked in computer science departments. I've read a fair few papers in philosophy of computing and although I think one of them was a bit wackadoodle (it was on the metaphysics of Haskell monads), none of them demonstrated anything particular objectionable in their understanding of computer science.

Well done on answering my point on metaphysics (comment 208) btw.

Fri, 18 Jun 2010 18:36:33 UTC | #481454

Go to: Philosophy is junk

Tom Morris's Avatar Jump to comment 208 by Tom Morris

Comment 74 by Bonzai :

It is not that there are no bad science and bad scientists (cold fusion anyone?) Point is, in science you do know it is bad science. Bad sciences don't get pass peer review,--with perhaps some odd oversights within the margin of error of any review system. There is a standard. No physics department would teach an undergraduate course in cold fusion, peroid. In philosophy what you think is bad someone else would consider great and vice versa. You think Post Modernism is bull shit? But Pomo philosophers hold positions in some of the most prestigeous philosophy dedpartments. It is all fashion and opinions. Shits do get published in peer reviewed literature because the peers are equally shitty.

You do know of the existence of peer-reviwed philosophy journals, right? I assure you that if you get the top 10 philosophy journals, you will find almost no postmodern bullshit in them because of... the peer review process.

Just like if you get the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Homeopathy journal, you'll find that the sort of papers that end up in the latter don't end up in the former.

Comment 52 by bliszs :

"his thorough knowledge of history, theology (and its refutation), ethics, metaphysics...(the list goes on) " metaphysics. lol. philosophy makes guesses about physics. philosophy is just a human concept, its not universal, the universe has no philosophy. sciencegeek, science doesn't make assumptions, but it speculates. that is not philosophy, for it has logical underpinning. astrobiology is very very speculative, it is not a question of philosophy though. neither is philosophy needed at all to take creative leaps.

Yeah, if you think metaphysics is philosophers "guessing" about physics, you evidently haven't actually read much contemporary metaphysics. If you are working on the metaphysics of properties or modality or time or mind or whatever, incompatibility with the findings of current empirical science is a very good reason why such a theory would be rejected. If you have two theories in metaphysics and some people find one intuitively implausible, that's a discussion that'll go on just fine. But if the theory can be shown to be incompatible with a well-attested fact in physics or another physical science, most philosophers will see that as a good reason to drop or modify such a theory. And if they don't, you can bet someone is going to be submitting a paper in response that knocks a few great big punches through the theory.

Tue, 15 Jun 2010 15:50:03 UTC | #480649

Go to: Is Christianity a White Man's Religion?

Tom Morris's Avatar Jump to comment 32 by Tom Morris

Standard religious line: Christianity is a universal religion.

Now, the interesting question is whether Christianity ought to be taken up by black people. Some African-American humanists like Norm Allen Jr have asked why people are buying into the religion of their slave-owners.

See: Norm Allen Jr. interview on Point of Inquiry

I'm not sure what I think - I can see the argument about church as community and so on, and despite being an atheist and a white guy living in Britain, I really enjoy gospel music - but I'd like to think that if I had come out of hundreds of years of slavery and oppression, I wouldn't buy into the religion of the slave-owners and the oppressors. I look at liberation theology of all kinds - whether it is the Guttierez-style Catholicism of Latin America or queer theology or black theology and all I see is religion being used as an empty vessel for the righteous grievances of oppressed minorities. This is great - at least religion is serving some useful purpose - but why bother with the religion? It's a huge chunk of what causes the problem in the first place.

Tue, 08 Jun 2010 12:09:40 UTC | #478011

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