TheInfoList

Introduction

Defining science

Observation inseparable from theory

thumb|right|Seen through a telescope, the Einstein_cross_seems_to_provide_evidence_for_five_different_objects,_but_this_observation_is_theory-laden._If_we_assume_the_theory_of_[[general_relativity,_the_image_only_provides_evidence_for_two_objects..html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="eneral_relativity.html" style="text-decoration: none;"class="mw-redirect" title="Einstein cross seems to provide evidence for five different objects, but this observation is theory-laden. If we assume the theory of [[general relativity">Einstein cross seems to provide evidence for five different objects, but this observation is theory-laden. If we assume the theory of [[general relativity, the image only provides evidence for two objects.">alt=Five balls of light are arranged in a cross shape. When making observations, scientists look through telescopes, study images on electronic screens, record meter readings, and so on. Generally, on a basic level, they can agree on what they see, e.g., the thermometer shows 37.9 degrees C. But, if these scientists have different ideas about the theories that have been developed to explain these basic observations, they may disagree about what they are observing. For example, before [[Albert Einstein]]'s [[General relativity|general theory of relativity]], observers would have likely interpreted an image of the [[Einstein cross]] as five different objects in space. In light of that theory, however, astronomers will tell you that there are actually only two objects, one in the center and four different images of a second object around the sides. Alternatively, if other scientists suspect that something is wrong with the telescope and only one object is actually being observed, they are operating under yet another theory. Observations that cannot be separated from theoretical interpretation are said to be theory-laden. All observation involves both perception and cognition. That is, one does not make an observation passively, but rather is actively engaged in distinguishing the phenomenon being observed from surrounding sensory data. Therefore, observations are affected by one's underlying understanding of the way in which the world functions, and that understanding may influence what is perceived, noticed, or deemed worthy of consideration. In this sense, it can be argued that all observation is theory-laden.

The purpose of science

Should science aim to determine ultimate truth, or are there questions that science cannot answer? ''Scientific realists'' claim that science aims at truth and that one ought to regard scientific theories as true, approximately true, or likely true. Conversely, ''scientific anti-realists'' argue that science does not aim (or at least does not succeed) at truth, especially truth about unobservables like electrons or other universes. Instrumentalists argue that scientific theories should only be evaluated on whether they are useful. In their view, whether theories are true or not is beside the point, because the purpose of science is to make predictions and enable effective technology. Realists often point to the success of recent scientific theories as evidence for the truth (or near truth) of current theories. Antirealists point to either the many false theories in the history of science, epistemic morals, the success of false modeling assumptions, or widely termed postmodern criticisms of objectivity as evidence against scientific realism. Antirealists attempt to explain the success of scientific theories without reference to truth. Some antirealists claim that scientific theories aim at being accurate only about observable objects and argue that their success is primarily judged by that criterion.

Values and science

Values intersect with science in different ways. There are epistemic values that mainly guide the scientific research. The scientific enterprise is embedded in particular culture and values through individual practitioners. Values emerge from science, both as product and process and can be distributed among several cultures in the society. If it is unclear what counts as science, how the process of confirming theories works, and what the purpose of science is, there is considerable scope for values and other social influences to shape science. Indeed, values can play a role ranging from determining which research gets funded to influencing which theories achieve scientific consensus. For example, in the 19th century, cultural values held by scientists about race shaped research on evolution, and values concerning social class influenced debates on phrenology (considered scientific at the time). Feminist philosophers of science, sociologists of science, and others explore how social values affect science.

History

Pre-modern

The origins of philosophy of science trace back to Plato and Aristotle who distinguished the forms of approximate and exact reasoning, set out the threefold scheme of abductive, deductive, and inductive inference, and also analyzed reasoning by analogy. The eleventh century Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham (known in Latin as Alhazen) conducted his research in optics by way of controlled experimental testing and applied geometry, especially in his investigations into the images resulting from the reflection and refraction of light. Roger Bacon (1214–1294), an English thinker and experimenter heavily influenced by al-Haytham, is recognized by many to be the father of modern scientific method. His view that mathematics was essential to a correct understanding of natural philosophy was considered to be 400 years ahead of its time.Clegg, Brian
"The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon"
. Carroll and Graf Publishers, NY, 2003, p. 2.

Modern

Francis Bacon (no direct relation to Roger, who lived 300 years earlier) was a seminal figure in philosophy of science at the time of the Scientific Revolution. In his work ''Novum Organum'' (1620)—an allusion to Aristotle's ''Organon''—Bacon outlined a new system of logic to improve upon the old philosophical process of syllogism. Bacon's method relied on experimental ''histories'' to eliminate alternative theories. In 1637, René Descartes established a new framework for grounding scientific knowledge in his treatise, ''Discourse on Method'', advocating the central role of reason as opposed to sensory experience. By contrast, in 1713, the 2nd edition of Isaac Newton's ''Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica'' argued that "... hypotheses ... have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophypropositions are deduced from the phenomena and rendered general by induction. " This passage influenced a "later generation of philosophically-inclined readers to pronounce a ban on causal hypotheses in natural philosophy." In particular, later in the 18th century, David Hume would famously articulate skepticism about the ability of science to determine causality and gave a definitive formulation of the problem of induction. The 19th century writings of John Stuart Mill are also considered important in the formation of current conceptions of the scientific method, as well as anticipating later accounts of scientific explanation.

Logical positivism

Instrumentalism became popular among physicists around the turn of the 20th century, after which logical positivism defined the field for several decades. Logical positivism accepts only testable statements as meaningful, rejects metaphysical interpretations, and embraces verificationism (a set of theories of knowledge that combines logicism, empiricism, and linguistics to ground philosophy on a basis consistent with examples from the empirical sciences). Seeking to overhaul all of philosophy and convert it to a new ''scientific philosophy'',Michael Friedman, ''Reconsidering Logical Positivism'' (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
p. xiv
.
the Berlin Circle and the Vienna Circle propounded logical positivism in the late 1920s. Interpreting Ludwig Wittgenstein's early philosophy of language, logical positivists identified a verifiability principle or criterion of cognitive meaningfulness. From Bertrand Russell's logicism they sought reduction of mathematics to logic. They also embraced Russell's logical atomism, Ernst Mach's phenomenalism—whereby the mind knows only actual or potential sensory experience, which is the content of all sciences, whether physics or psychology—and Percy Bridgman's operationalism. Thereby, only the ''verifiable'' was scientific and ''cognitively meaningful'', whereas the unverifiable was unscientific, cognitively meaningless "pseudostatements"—metaphysical, emotive, or such—not worthy of further review by philosophers, who were newly tasked to organize knowledge rather than develop new knowledge. Logical positivism is commonly portrayed as taking the extreme position that scientific language should never refer to anything unobservable—even the seemingly core notions of causality, mechanism, and principles—but that is an exaggeration. Talk of such unobservables could be allowed as metaphorical—direct observations viewed in the abstract—or at worst metaphysical or emotional. ''Theoretical laws'' would be reduced to ''empirical laws'', while ''theoretical terms'' would garner meaning from ''observational terms'' via ''correspondence rules''. Mathematics in physics would reduce to symbolic logic via logicism, while rational reconstruction would convert ordinary language into standardized equivalents, all networked and united by a logical syntax. A scientific theory would be stated with its method of verification, whereby a logical calculus or empirical operation could verify its falsity or truth. In the late 1930s, logical positivists fled Germany and Austria for Britain and America. By then, many had replaced Mach's phenomenalism with Otto Neurath's physicalism, and Rudolf Carnap had sought to replace ''verification'' with simply ''confirmation''. With World War II's close in 1945, logical positivism became milder, ''logical empiricism'', led largely by Carl Hempel, in America, who expounded the covering law model of scientific explanation as a way of identifying the logical form of explanations without any reference to the suspect notion of "causation". The logical positivist movement became a major underpinning of analytic philosophy,Se
"Vienna Circle"
in ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''.
and dominated Anglosphere philosophy, including philosophy of science, while influencing sciences, into the 1960s. Yet the movement failed to resolve its central problems, and its doctrines were increasingly assaulted. Nevertheless, it brought about the establishment of philosophy of science as a distinct subdiscipline of philosophy, with Carl Hempel playing a key role.Friedman, ''Reconsidering Logical Positivism'' (Cambridge U P, 1999)
p. xii
.

Thomas Kuhn

Current approaches

Naturalism's axiomatic assumptions

All scientific study inescapably builds on at least some essential assumptions that are untested by scientific processes. Kuhn concurs that all science is based on an approved agenda of unprovable assumptions about the character of the universe, rather than merely on empirical facts. These assumptions—a paradigm—comprise a collection of beliefs, values and techniques that are held by a given scientific community, which legitimize their systems and set the limitations to their investigation. For naturalists, nature is the only reality, the only paradigm. There is no such thing as 'supernatural'. The scientific method is to be used to investigate all reality, and Naturalism is the implicit philosophy of working scientists. The following basic assumptions are needed to justify the scientific method. # ''that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers''. "The basis for rationality is acceptance of an external objective reality." "Objective reality is clearly an essential thing if we are to develop a meaningful perspective of the world. Nevertheless its very existence is assumed." "Our belief that objective reality exist is an assumption that it arises from a real world outside of ourselves. As infants we made this assumption unconsciously. People are happy to make this assumption that adds meaning to our sensations and feelings, than live with solipsism." Without this assumption, there would be only the thoughts and images in our own mind (which would be the only existing mind) and there would be no need of science, or anything else." # ''that this objective reality is governed by natural laws''; "Science, at least today, assumes that the universe obeys to knoweable principles that don't depend on time or place, nor on subjective parameters such as what we think, know or how we behave." Hugh Gauch argues that science presupposes that "the physical world is orderly and comprehensible." # ''that reality can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.'' Stanley Sobottka said, "The assumption of external reality is necessary for science to function and to flourish. For the most part, science is the discovering and explaining of the external world." "Science attempts to produce knowledge that is as universal and objective as possible within the realm of human understanding." # ''that Nature has uniformity of laws and most if not all things in nature must have at least a natural cause.'' Biologist Stephen Jay Gould referred to these two closely related propositions as the constancy of nature's laws and the operation of known processes. Simpson agrees that the axiom of uniformity of law, an unprovable postulate, is necessary in order for scientists to extrapolate inductive inference into the unobservable past in order to meaningfully study it. # ''that experimental procedures will be done satisfactorily without any deliberate or unintentional mistakes that will influence the results''. # ''that experimenters won't be significantly biased by their presumptions.'' # ''that random sampling is representative of the entire population.'' A simple random sample (SRS) is the most basic probabilistic option used for creating a sample from a population. The benefit of SRS is that the investigator is guaranteed to choose a sample that represents the population that ensures statistically valid conclusions.

Coherentism

In contrast to the view that science rests on foundational assumptions, coherentism asserts that statements are justified by being a part of a coherent system. Or, rather, individual statements cannot be validated on their own: only coherent systems can be justified. A prediction of a transit of Venus is justified by its being coherent with broader beliefs about celestial mechanics and earlier observations. As explained above, observation is a cognitive act. That is, it relies on a pre-existing understanding, a systematic set of beliefs. An observation of a transit of Venus requires a huge range of auxiliary beliefs, such as those that describe the optics of telescopes, the mechanics of the telescope mount, and an understanding of celestial mechanics. If the prediction fails and a transit is not observed, that is likely to occasion an adjustment in the system, a change in some auxiliary assumption, rather than a rejection of the theoretical system. In fact, according to the Duhem–Quine thesis, after Pierre Duhem and W.V. Quine, it is impossible to test a theory in isolation. One must always add auxiliary hypotheses in order to make testable predictions. For example, to test Newton's Law of Gravitation in the solar system, one needs information about the masses and positions of the Sun and all the planets. Famously, the failure to predict the orbit of Uranus in the 19th century led not to the rejection of Newton's Law but rather to the rejection of the hypothesis that the solar system comprises only seven planets. The investigations that followed led to the discovery of an eighth planet, Neptune. If a test fails, something is wrong. But there is a problem in figuring out what that something is: a missing planet, badly calibrated test equipment, an unsuspected curvature of space, or something else. One consequence of the Duhem–Quine thesis is that one can make any theory compatible with any empirical observation by the addition of a sufficient number of suitable ''ad hoc'' hypotheses. Karl Popper accepted this thesis, leading him to reject naïve falsification. Instead, he favored a "survival of the fittest" view in which the most falsifiable scientific theories are to be preferred.

Anything goes methodology

Paul Feyerabend (1924–1994) argued that no description of scientific method could possibly be broad enough to include all the approaches and methods used by scientists, and that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science. He argued that "the only principle that does not inhibit progress is: ''anything goes''".Paul Feyerabend, ''Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge'' (1975), Feyerabend said that science started as a liberating movement, but that over time it had become increasingly dogmatic and rigid and had some oppressive features, and thus had become increasingly an ideology. Because of this, he said it was impossible to come up with an unambiguous way to distinguish science from religion, magic, or mythology. He saw the exclusive dominance of science as a means of directing society as authoritarian and ungrounded. Promulgation of this epistemological anarchism earned Feyerabend the title of "the worst enemy of science" from his detractors.

Sociology of scientific knowledge methodology

According to Kuhn, science is an inherently communal activity which can only be done as part of a community. For him, the fundamental difference between science and other disciplines is the way in which the communities function. Others, especially Feyerabend and some post-modernist thinkers, have argued that there is insufficient difference between social practices in science and other disciplines to maintain this distinction. For them, social factors play an important and direct role in scientific method, but they do not serve to differentiate science from other disciplines. On this account, science is socially constructed, though this does not necessarily imply the more radical notion that reality itself is a social construct. However, some (such as Quine) do maintain that scientific reality is a social construct:
Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer ... For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing, the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conceptions only as ''cultural posits''.
The public backlash of scientists against such views, particularly in the 1990s, became known as the science wars. A major development in recent decades has been the study of the formation, structure, and evolution of scientific communities by sociologists and anthropologists – including David Bloor, Harry Collins, Bruno Latour, Ian Hacking and Anselm Strauss. Concepts and methods (such as rational choice, social choice or game theory) from economics have also been applied for understanding the efficiency of scientific communities in the production of knowledge. This interdisciplinary field has come to be known as science and technology studies. Here the approach to the philosophy of science is to study how scientific communities actually operate.

Continental philosophy

Philosophers in the continental philosophical tradition are not traditionally categorized as philosophers of science. However, they have much to say about science, some of which has anticipated themes in the analytical tradition. For example, Friedrich Nietzsche advanced the thesis in his ''The Genealogy of Morals'' (1887) that the motive for the search for truth in sciences is a kind of ascetic ideal. In general, continental philosophy views science from a world-historical perspective. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) became one of the first philosophers to support this view. Philosophers such as Pierre Duhem (1861-1916) and Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) also wrote their works with this world-historical approach to science, predating Kuhn' 1962 work by a generation or more. All of these approaches involve a historical and sociological turn to science, with a priority on lived experience (a kind of Husserlian "life-world"), rather than a progress-based or anti-historical approach as emphasised in the analytic tradition. One can trace this continental strand of thought through the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), the late works of Merleau-Ponty (''Nature: Course Notes from the Collège de France'', 1956–1960), and the hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).Gutting, Gary (2004), ''Continental Philosophy of Science'', Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, MA. The largest effect on the continental tradition with respect to science came from Martin Heidegger's critique of the theoretical attitude in general, which of course includes the scientific attitude. For this reason, the continental tradition has remained much more skeptical of the importance of science in human life and in philosophical inquiry. Nonetheless, there have been a number of important works: especially those of a Kuhnian precursor, Alexandre Koyré (1892-1964). Another important development was that of Michel Foucault's analysis of historical and scientific thought in ''The Order of Things'' (1966) and his study of power and corruption within the "science" of madness. Post-Heideggerian authors contributing to continental philosophy of science in the second half of the 20th century include Jürgen Habermas (e.g., ''Truth and Justification'', 1998), Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (''The Unity of Nature'', 1980; de | Die Einheit der Natur (1971)), and Wolfgang Stegmüller (''Probleme und Resultate der Wissenschafttheorie und Analytischen Philosophie'', 1973–1986).

Other topics

Reductionism

Analysis involves breaking an observation or theory down into simpler concepts in order to understand it. Reductionism can refer to one of several philosophical positions related to this approach. One type of reductionism suggests that phenomena are amenable to scientific explanation at lower levels of analysis and inquiry. Perhaps a historical event might be explained in sociological and psychological terms, which in turn might be described in terms of human physiology, which in turn might be described in terms of chemistry and physics. Daniel Dennett distinguishes legitimate reductionism from what he calls ''greedy reductionism,'' which denies real complexities and leaps too quickly to sweeping generalizations.

Social accountability

A broad issue affecting the neutrality of science concerns the areas which science chooses to explore, that is, what part of the world and of humankind are studied by science. Philip Kitcher in his ''Science, Truth, and Democracy'' argues that scientific studies that attempt to show one segment of the population as being less intelligent, successful or emotionally backward compared to others have a political feedback effect which further excludes such groups from access to science. Thus such studies undermine the broad consensus required for good science by excluding certain people, and so proving themselves in the end to be unscientific.

Philosophy of particular sciences

In addition to addressing the general questions regarding science and induction, many philosophers of science are occupied by investigating foundational problems in particular sciences. They also examine the implications of particular sciences for broader philosophical questions. The late 20th and early 21st century has seen a rise in the number of practitioners of philosophy of a particular science.

Philosophy of statistics

The problem of induction discussed above is seen in another form in debates over the foundations of statistics. The standard approach to statistical hypothesis testing avoids claims about whether evidence supports a hypothesis or makes it more probable. Instead, the typical test yields a p-value, which is the probability of the ''evidence'' being such as it is, under the assumption that the hypothesis being tested is true. If the ''p''-value is too low, the hypothesis is rejected, in a way analogous to falsification. In contrast, Bayesian inference seeks to assign probabilities to hypotheses. Related topics in philosophy of statistics include probability interpretations, overfitting, and the difference between correlation and causation.

Philosophy of mathematics

Philosophy of mathematics is concerned with the philosophical foundations and implications of mathematics. The central questions are whether numbers, triangles, and other mathematical entities exist independently of the human mind and what is the nature of mathematical propositions. Is asking whether "1+1=2" is true fundamentally different from asking whether a ball is red? Was calculus invented or discovered? A related question is whether learning mathematics requires experience or reason alone. What does it mean to prove a mathematical theorem and how does one know whether a mathematical proof is correct? Philosophers of mathematics also aim to clarify the relationships between mathematics and logic, human capabilities such as intuition, and the material universe.

Philosophy of physics

Philosophy of physics is the study of the fundamental, philosophical questions underlying modern physics, the study of matter and energy and how they interact. The main questions concern the nature of space and time, atoms and atomism. Also included are the predictions of cosmology, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the foundations of statistical mechanics, causality, determinism, and the nature of physical laws. Classically, several of these questions were studied as part of metaphysics (for example, those about causality, determinism, and space and time).

Philosophy of chemistry

Philosophy of chemistry is the philosophical study of the methodology and content of the science of chemistry. It is explored by philosophers, chemists, and philosopher-chemist teams. It includes research on general philosophy of science issues as applied to chemistry. For example, can all chemical phenomena be explained by quantum mechanics or is it not possible to reduce chemistry to physics? For another example, chemists have discussed the philosophy of how theories are confirmed in the context of confirming reaction mechanisms. Determining reaction mechanisms is difficult because they cannot be observed directly. Chemists can use a number of indirect measures as evidence to rule out certain mechanisms, but they are often unsure if the remaining mechanism is correct because there are many other possible mechanisms that they have not tested or even thought of. Philosophers have also sought to clarify the meaning of chemical concepts which do not refer to specific physical entities, such as chemical bonds.

Philosophy of astronomy

The philosophy of astronomy seeks to understand and analyze the methodologies and technologies utilized by experts in the discipline, focusing on how observations made about space and astrophysical phenomena can be studied. Given that astronomers rely and utilize theories and formulas from other scientific disciplines, such as chemistry and physics, the pursuit of understanding how knowledge can be obtained about the cosmos, as well as the relation in which our planet and Solar System have within our personal views of our place in the universe, philosophical insights into how facts about space can be scientifically analyzed and configure with other established knowledge is a main point of inquiry.

Philosophy of Earth sciences

The philosophy of Earth science is concerned with how humans obtain and verify knowledge of the workings of the Earth system, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere (solid earth). Earth scientists’ ways of knowing and habits of mind share important commonalities with other sciences, but also have distinctive attributes that emerge from the complex, heterogeneous, unique, long-lived, and non-manipulatable nature of the Earth system.

Philosophy of biology

Philosophy of biology deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and ethical issues in the biological and biomedical sciences. Although philosophers of science and philosophers generally have long been interested in biology (e.g., Aristotle, Descartes, Leibniz and even Kant), philosophy of biology only emerged as an independent field of philosophy in the 1960s and 1970s. Philosophers of science began to pay increasing attention to developments in biology, from the rise of the modern synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s to the discovery of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in 1953 to more recent advances in genetic engineering. Other key ideas such as the reduction of all life processes to biochemical reactions as well as the incorporation of psychology into a broader neuroscience are also addressed. Research in current philosophy of biology includes investigation of the foundations of evolutionary theory (such as Peter Godfrey-Smith's work), and the role of viruses as persistent symbionts in host genomes. As a consequence, the evolution of genetic content order is seen as the result of competent genome editors in contrast to former narratives in which error replication events (mutations) dominated.

Philosophy of medicine

Beyond medical ethics and bioethics, the philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy that includes the epistemology and ontology/metaphysics of medicine. Within the epistemology of medicine, evidence-based medicine (EBM) (or evidence-based practice (EBP)) has attracted attention, most notably the roles of randomisation, blinding and placebo controls. Related to these areas of investigation, ontologies of specific interest to the philosophy of medicine include Cartesian dualism, the monogenetic conception of diseaseLee, K., 2012. ''The Philosophical Foundations of Modern Medicine'', London/New York, Palgrave/Macmillan. and the conceptualization of 'placebos' and 'placebo effects'.Nunn, R., 2009. It's time to put the placebo out of our misery" ''British Medical Journal'' 338, b1568. There is also a growing interest in the metaphysics of medicine, particularly the idea of causation. Philosophers of medicine might not only be interested in how medical knowledge is generated, but also in the nature of such phenomena. Causation is of interest because the purpose of much medical research is to establish causal relationships, e.g. what causes disease, or what causes people to get better.

Philosophy of psychiatry

Philosophy of psychiatry explores philosophical questions relating to psychiatry and mental illness. The philosopher of science and medicine Dominic Murphy identifies three areas of exploration in the philosophy of psychiatry. The first concerns the examination of psychiatry as a science, using the tools of the philosophy of science more broadly. The second entails the examination of the concepts employed in discussion of mental illness, including the experience of mental illness, and the normative questions it raises. The third area concerns the links and discontinuities between the philosophy of mind and psychopathology.

Philosophy of psychology

Philosophy of psychology refers to issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology. Some of these issues are epistemological concerns about the methodology of psychological investigation. For example, is the best method for studying psychology to focus only on the response of behavior to external stimuli or should psychologists focus on mental perception and thought processes? If the latter, an important question is how the internal experiences of others can be measured. Self-reports of feelings and beliefs may not be reliable because, even in cases in which there is no apparent incentive for subjects to intentionally deceive in their answers, self-deception or selective memory may affect their responses. Then even in the case of accurate self-reports, how can responses be compared across individuals? Even if two individuals respond with the same answer on a Likert scale, they may be experiencing very different things. Other issues in philosophy of psychology are philosophical questions about the nature of mind, brain, and cognition, and are perhaps more commonly thought of as part of cognitive science, or philosophy of mind. For example, are humans rational creatures? Is there any sense in which they have free will, and how does that relate to the experience of making choices? Philosophy of psychology also closely monitors contemporary work conducted in cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and artificial intelligence, questioning what they can and cannot explain in psychology. Philosophy of psychology is a relatively young field, because psychology only became a discipline of its own in the late 1800s. In particular, neurophilosophy has just recently become its own field with the works of Paul Churchland and Patricia Churchland. Philosophy of mind, by contrast, has been a well-established discipline since before psychology was a field of study at all. It is concerned with questions about the very nature of mind, the qualities of experience, and particular issues like the debate between dualism and monism.

Philosophy of archaeology

The philosophy of archaeology seeks to investigate the foundations, methods and implications of the discipline of archaeology in order to further understanding of the human past and present. Central questions include what is archaeology? What is the theoretical basis of archaeology? How should archaeology conceive of time? Why, and for who, is archaeology practiced. What is the nature and reality of the objects and processes of archaeological study? Analytic philosophy of archaeology investigates the logic behind concepts such as artefact, site, the archaeological record and archaeological cultures. These are just some examples of the metaphysical, aesthetic, epistemological, ethical and theoretical concerns at the heart of the practice of archaeology.

Philosophy of anthropology

The philosophy of anthropology is a branch of philosophy dealing with questions of metaphysics and phenomenology of the human person. By analyzing the philosophical factors of what it means to be human, such as cultural, biological, historical, and linguistic variables, the pursuit of trying to understand the question of what it means to be human is viewed in a holistic manner.

Philosophy of geography

The philosophy of geography is a subfield of the philosophy of science which deals with epistemological, metaphysical, and axiological issues in geography, with geographic methodology in general, and with more broadly related issues such as the perception and representation of space and place.

Philosophy of linguistics

The philosophy of linguistics is a branch of the philosophy of science that seeks to comprehend and analyze matters of meaning and reference within languages and dialects. Specific topics within this discipline include issues in language learnability, language change, the competence-performance distinction, and the expressive power of linguistic theories.

Philosophy of economics

Philosophy of economics is the branch of philosophy which studies philosophical issues relating to economics. It can also be defined as the branch of economics which studies its own foundations and morality. It can be categorized into three central topics. The first concerns the definition and scope of economics and by what methods it should be studied and whether these methods rise to the level of epistemic reliability associated with the other special sciences. For example, is it possible to research economics in such a way that it is value-free, establishing facts that are independent of the normative views of the researcher? The second topic is the meaning and implications of rationality. For example, can buying lottery tickets (increasing the riskiness of your income) at the same time as buying insurance (decreasing the riskiness of your income) be rational? The third topic is the normative evaluation of economic policies and outcomes. What criteria should be used to determine whether a given public policy is beneficial for society?

Philosophy of social science

The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic and method of the social sciences, such as sociology and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontological significance of structure and agency. The French philosopher, Auguste Comte (1798–1857), established the epistemological perspective of positivism in ''The Course in Positivist Philosophy'', a series of texts published between 1830 and 1842. The first three volumes of the ''Course'' dealt chiefly with the natural sciences already in existence (geoscience, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology), whereas the latter two emphasised the inevitable coming of social science: "''sociologie''". For Comte, the physical sciences had necessarily to arrive first, before humanity could adequately channel its efforts into the most challenging and complex "Queen science" of human society itself. Comte offers an evolutionary system proposing that society undergoes three phases in its quest for the truth according to a general 'law of three stages'. These are (1) the ''theological'', (2) the ''metaphysical'', and (3) the ''positive''. Comte's positivism established the initial philosophical foundations for formal sociology and social research. Durkheim, Marx, and Weber are more typically cited as the fathers of contemporary social science. In psychology, a positivistic approach has historically been favoured in behaviourism. Positivism has also been espoused by 'technocrats' who believe in the inevitability of social progress through science and technology. The positivist perspective has been associated with 'scientism'; the view that the methods of the natural sciences may be applied to all areas of investigation, be it philosophical, social scientific, or otherwise. Among most social scientists and historians, orthodox positivism has long since lost popular support. Today, practitioners of both social and physical sciences instead take into account the distorting effect of observer bias and structural limitations. This scepticism has been facilitated by a general weakening of deductivist accounts of science by philosophers such as Thomas Kuhn, and new philosophical movements such as critical realism and neopragmatism. The philosopher-sociologist Jürgen Habermas has critiqued pure instrumental rationality as meaning that scientific-thinking becomes something akin to ideology itself.Outhwaite, William, 1988 ''Habermas: Key Contemporary Thinkers'', Polity Press (Second Edition 2009), p. 68

Philosophy of technology

The philosophy of technology is a sub-field of philosophy that studies the nature of technology. Specific research topics include study of the role of tacit and explicit knowledge in creating and using technology, the nature of functions in technological artifacts, the role of values in design, and ethics related to technology. Technology and engineering can both involve the application of scientific knowledge. The philosophy of engineering is an emerging sub-field of the broader philosophy of technology.

* Bayesian epistemology * Criticism of science * History and philosophy of science * List of philosophers of science * Metaphysical naturalism * Metascience * Objectivity (philosophy) * Philosophy of engineering * Science policy

Footnotes

Sources

* * * * * * * * * * *