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Do philosophers consider psychology to be a science? If not, do they think

Do philosophers consider psychology to be a science? If not, do they think philosophy should inform personal life values or psychiatric treatment?

Interesting question! The field of psychology emerged in the 19th and early 20th century as a science; at least the early self-described psychologists first described themselves as developing a science of the mind, and later changed this to the science of behavior. In any case, I suggest that whether psychology is a science, it is difficult to avoid philosophy when addressing one's personal life or engaged in psychiatric treatment. Presumably, one's personal life will include some kind of philosophy of values or some ideas about what is good and healthy, bad and ill, what is kind or cruel, and so on. Some of the therapeutic communities I know in which persons seek recovery from mental illness involve a philosophy of health, responsibility, and care (see for example, Spring Lake Ranch in Vermont). They do not employ a philosophy course from Plato to Nato, but much of the dialogue is about wellbeing, the value of community, and living a philosophy of mutual respect.

Does the principle of increased entropy support or challenge the Cosmological

Does the principle of increased entropy support or challenge the Cosmological argument? I am getting mixed messages and am unsure which if any are valid.

Good question, and undoubtedly others are better equipped to give better or deeper answers. But I'll take a quick stab. First, there are at least several different categories of Cosmological Arguments, but I'm guessing you have in mind those involving design of some sort -- increasing entropy seems to suggest the cosmos tends toward disorder, which seems to undermine the notion that there is any sort of (intrinsic) or ultimate ordering. But now, with respect to design, what's to refute the idea that the increasing disorder is PART of the design, part of its aim? (the general problem with design arguments is that no one is ever very clear on just what the purported point of God creating the universe is .... But presumably introducing human beings to contemplate the universe (and God) is part of it, and why couldn't a cosmos with increasing entropy be something good for human beings to contemplate?) ... As far as other forms of Cosmological Args go, by my understanding they tend to involve intelligibility concerns: we couldn't make sense of motion, or of causation, or of the existence of the cosmos at all, unless there were a First Mover, Cause, or Necessarily Existent Creator. As far as I can see those forms of argument are neutral on the existence of entropy. So, in short, I can see where your intuition comes in -- but seems to me a lot more work has to be done before the fact of entropy would really raise a challenge for Cosmological Arguments.

hope that's a useful start!

ap

It seems to me that today's rationality is completely irrational in a sense that

It seems to me that today's rationality is completely irrational in a sense that it attacks everything that is not rational. But who define what is rational? For example, many people like to back up their beliefs by scientific arguments or by pointing on the bad parts of religion. Yet in 19. century frenology was considered science. Today we call it pseudoscience. Is it lacking humility for most people or something else that they cannot accept that in 200 years people will laugh at our modern "science"? And, if we are so deeply influenced by beliefs of our times why wouldnt relativism allow for more open minded approach in a sense that it would allow people to believe anything they want (without the need for justification) instead of using relativism primarily for attacking "old" beliefs (example would be the view that christianity is obsolete)?

Your comment seems to be in tension with itself. You end it by suggesting that we adopt a version of relativism "that...would allow people to believe anything they want (without the need for justification)." Yet you begin your comment by apparently condemning, as "completely irrational," the beliefs of those who think pseudoscience or religion are irrational. I don't think you can have it both ways: relativism for their judgments, objectivism for your own. You ask, "Who defines what is rational?" I take it you have some definition in mind when you describe critics of pseudoscience and religion as "completely irrational."

Relativism has an undeserved reputation for being open-minded. Those who think that they can "believe anything they want (without the need for justification)" should feel no pressure to keep their minds open to any evidence or arguments against what they believe.

Are empirical questions inherently non-philosophical? If answers to those

Are empirical questions inherently non-philosophical? If answers to those questions can be determined by polling or science, should philosophers never address them?

Your question touches on a current debate within philosophy. You can find more about the debate by searching under "experimental philosophy" and "x-phi" on the web. Regardless of which side one takes, however, it's always important to know which kind of question (empirical, conceptual, logical, normative, or a mixture of those) one is trying to answer: the answer to "Which kind of question is that?" is a philosophical matter.

In my experience, philosophers too often fail to recognize that the question they're asking has empirical aspects -- aspects that, as philosophers, they're not trained to investigate. If a question can be answered by polling or some other empirical method, then any philosopher who tries to answer it had better be properly trained in the relevant empirical method. Once the empirical results are in, the implications of those results are something that philosophers, as such, are well-equipped to work on.

Is it possible to make scientific observations through armchair philosophy while

Is it possible to make scientific observations through armchair philosophy while bypassing the scientific method? For example, a caveman with a powerful brain might have been able to hypothesize and describe in detail what radio is despite not a single radio message even being sent until tens of thousands of years later. Wasn't that caveman right anyway that radio does exist even though he had no way to prove it? Isn't much of metaphysics like this too?

It is possible to dream up hypotheses in an armchair. But our imagination is limited (especially if we spend too much time in an armchair!) and of course we can't gather evidence for or against a hypothesis without doing some observation or experimentation. We might even dream up a correct hypothesis--but its correctness would be a matter of luck, and we could not know whether or not it was correct. So, the Greek philosopher Democritus, for example, was correct in thinking that there were atoms, but he just got lucky (he had no idea of the size of atoms or the nature of atoms and did not make any telling observations). Those who do metaphysics often claim that they are doing something different from science, such as exploring reason, or analysis of concepts, such that an armchair is the best place to do it. Some philosophers (e.g. W.V. Quine) think that all knowledge needs to be empirically engaged, and they reject metaphysics that is uninformed by observation or experiment.

What do people mean when they say (as when cautioning against the validity of a

What do people mean when they say (as when cautioning against the validity of a scientific study, for example) that "correlation does not imply causation"? Isn't causation just perfect correlation? And if so, doesn't that mean that the caveat in question does not concern causal claims per se, but inductive claims more generally?

Suppose there is a single type of event A that always causes two other events, B and C. Suppose, moreover, that, whenever B occurs, it is always caused by A, and similarly for C. Then B will be perfectly correlated with C, but by hypothesis is not caused by it.

This is typically what people worry about, though of course the correlation is rarely perfect, in fact. For example, people with AIDS almost always have HIV. There's a very strong correlation. We also know now that HIV does cause AIDS. But the correlation by itself does not show that HIV causes AIDS. Maybe having HIV is actually another effect of whatever it is that actually causes AIDS. Your immune system is depressed, and so you have this virus that other people do not have. Not actually true, but it might have been true.

But perhaps what is bothering you is a slightly different thought: This kind of strict correlation can't just be accidental, can it? Surely something must explain it! But, as I have said, having one cause the other is not the only possible explanation. There might be a common, third cause of both.

What does allow scientist to make moral and ethical judgements?

What does allow scientist to make moral and ethical judgements? I always thought that science is purely neutral and objective(yes I know this is an illusion, even if we destroy all bias and all string pullers(government, private/commercial sector) still even scientists unconsciousness can make the objectivity of his work biased without him even being aware of it), yet I see scientists making moral and ethical(which seem purely subjective to me[based on belief or opinion]) judgements nearly everywhere...

You ask a very good question! Much depends here on (first) how one defines 'objectivity' and (second) what objectivity might mean in the case of science and (third) the standing of moral beliefs.

Objectivity has lots of possible senses - e.g. being free from biases and prejudices, or being impartial and 'non-subjective', and so on - and it's not clear which of these senses of objectivity are defensible, and not clear either how they feature within science (for instance, perhaps scientists only need to be objective in a particular sense at a particular point in their research, such as its practical application). There is a very good history of the concept of objectivity by Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison called 'Objectivity' - beautiful but a little pricey - which explores three of the main senses of objectivity in the recent history of science.

The standing of moral beliefs - whether they are or can be 'objective' or whether they are merely belief and opinion - is both easier and harder. Easier because moral and ethical judgments and claims aren't just belief or opinion for the reason that arguments can be given for them (that's the business of moral philosophy!) and it is the provision of argument that raises a mere opinion into a substantive position, something worth taking seriously. Harder because providing philosophical arguments for our moral beliefs is, of course, difficult -- but that's not to say that our moral beliefs are just opinion.

Is the claim that all scientists believe in man made global warming and thus so

Is the claim that all scientists believe in man made global warming and thus so should you an illegitimate appeal to authority?

It is certainly an appeal to authority to argue that you should believe in anthropogenic global warming because all (or most) scientists do! Of course, the question is, why are scientists in (almost complete) agreement? It might be because the evidence is overwhelming, but it also could be for other reasons such as peer pressure, politics, intimidation etc. So the important issue is WHY the scientists agree and, to figure this out, you need to dig more deeply into the science and the politics. You might say (if you were generally trusting of scientists)--it is a legitimate appeal to authority, but authority is fallible.

Is it a contradiction to believe in God and also in science? I believe in

Is it a contradiction to believe in God and also in science? I believe in evolution and look at the Big Bang theory skeptically, but I also believe in God as the creator of everything. Many have often told me that you can't really accept these theories and also believe in God without causing a contradiction, but I always thought of it as science answering how things happen, whereas my faith in God answers why things happen. What do you think?

A wonderful, rich, and controversial question -- and there are lots of people out there thinking about it. (I happen to like Paul Davies on this subject -- but see also very recent books by Thomas Nagel and Alvin Plantinga ...) Just a quick thought for here. If someone says there's a contradiction they have to be able to state explicitly what it is. You get quick contradictions if perhaps you read the bible very literally and then listen to scientific theories of the creation of the universe, and/or the development of human beings. But lots of deeply religious people do not think the bible is to be read entirely literally, including such famous thinkers as Maimonides, Aquinas, and others. Given what you say it sounds like you're in the 'non-literal' camp ... but then to be sure you're NOT accepting contradictions you need to spell out as explicitly as you can just what science says about creation and what the Bible says, and satisfy yourself they are consistent ... As for your latter point, well -- the line between 'how' and 'why' really is not clear at all. Some read scientific claims as describing 'necessities,' laws which necessarily govern what happens -- and if something 'necessarily' happens that may well be to explain 'why' it happens. Or if you want to reserve for God (say) the explanation of 'why' things happen in the sense of 'to what end or purpose' -- well you need to look quite carefully at what science suggests about purposes and then, separately, really consider whether the empirical evidence, i.e. the course of events in the world, really does support the view that things, everything, the whole package, occurs for some purpose. (Can you say what that purpose is? If not, then why believe there is one?) Anyway this is all just the tip of the iceberg -- have a look at the authors I mentioned, and maybe my own introductory volume "The God Question: what famous thinkers have said about the divine"...)

best,

ap

Am I guilty of some kind of inconsistency if I reject scientific consensus about

Am I guilty of some kind of inconsistency if I reject scientific consensus about evolution, global warming, the big bang, etc., but still make regular use of modern technology?

No inconsistency. Your computer works whether you accept the quantum story that explains its microprocessors or not. You might run a risk of unreasonableness; the evidence for the things you mention is pretty good, and the same might hold for whatever gets included in your "etc." And if some of the things falling under your "etc." are routine parts of the science we use to produce the technologies you rely on, someone might wonder whether the success of those technologies doesn't give you good reason to accept the science. But consistency is not a very high bar, and though inconsistent views are arguably unreasonable, unreasonable views can be consistent.

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