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Natural sciences and metaphysics

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  • Natural sciences and metaphysics

    Hello everyone.

    I think that it isn't outreagous to say that in both the normal people and scientist haven't a good opinion of metaphysics. The impression probably being that it doesn't give us knowledge, or worse, that it couldn't give any. (Well, that's probably the case for philosophy in general too.)

    Now, that's not a good opinion, obviously. (Or it is? I dare to say it isnt.)

    That said, the most philosophically-inclined know that whatever they are, there is metaphysical presuppositions to scientific method. But given that, I can't fail to ask myself what it implies on sciences and metaphysics relations. So, here is my currents questions on the matters:

    - Can we do a part of metaphysics regardless of scientific knowledge? (I would say yes, but I'm not sure.)
    - Can we have a complete metaphysical worldview regardless of scienctific knowledge? (I would say no, but not sure either.)
    - Can we do a part of science regardless of metaphysics? (I would say no, with good confidence. Given that, the next question, which would be the same as above with science and metaphysics switched, is pretty straightforward.)

    Sometimees, it makes me wonder how much of metaphysics is actually sciences but speculative only, and how much of science is actually unassumed metaphysics. Maybe it is because there isn't always a clear-cut difference beetween those two endeavors?
    For example, when Enstein "created" general relativity, how much metaphysical was his theory? If metaphysics and interpretation of empirical data partially, or even completly, overlapped, could there be tension beetween philosophers and scientist? Are philosophers, sometimes, bad scientist? Same question, but with the opposite?
    How much truthfull C.D. Broad was when he said "the nonsense written by philosophers on scientific matters is exceeded only by the nonsense written by scientists on philosophy"?

    Is there some proper articulation beetwen them out there? That's a lot of questions, but I would be interested to hear everyone who have something to say on that.

  • #2
    This is an interesting thread (probably a few too many questions at once). I'm going to revive it. I see that I saved part of a reply to it a while ago, so maybe I'll reply to it later.

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    • #3
      I'll answer the first two:

      Can we do a part of metaphysics regardless of scientific knowledge?
      Yes. We can do formal ontology, which leaves figuring out what, specifically, the properties or substances in the world are to empirical disciplines. This was David Malet Armstrong and many of the Sydney empiricists' approach. It's also in line with some contemporary Aristotelians' approaches.

      Can we have a complete metaphysical worldview regardless of scienctific knowledge? (I would say no, but not sure either.)
      That depends on what a complete metaphysical worldview is. If a complete metaphysical worldview is an inventory of everything that exists, then we probably need at least some of the empirical sciences for some of that.
      Last edited by John West; 05-22-2019, 03:21 PM.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by John West View Post
        I'll answer the first two:
        That depends on what a complete metaphysical worldview is. If a complete metaphysical worldview is an inventory of everything that exists, then we probably need at least some of the empirical sciences for some of that.
        What about a inventory of everyhing that could exists? I would say that an someone who tends toward to be an ideal observer would be able to do that.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ouros View Post

          What about a inventory of everyhing that could exists? I would say that an someone who tends toward to be an ideal observer would be able to do that.
          That depends. If empirical sciences tell us what properties there are in the world (cf. Armstrong's scientific realism), then the shift to possible beings makes no difference. If not, how do we discover what properties are in the world? Not by reading them off predicates. (Some Neo-Aristotelians give replies similar to Armstrong's.)

          As usual, I have no position.
          Last edited by John West; 06-09-2019, 09:36 PM.

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