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u/amnsisc · 8 pointsr/badphilosophy

This is definitely not a stupid question, but very quickly gets to the heart of the matter.

But, to put it this way, Feyerabend's epistemic anarchism is a form of dis-unity of method, but dis-unity of method does not reduce to epistemic anarchism.

Kuhnian Paradigms, Lakatosian research programs, Dennett's Stances, Rorty's interpretative communities, Davidson's radical interpretation, Wittgenstein's modes of life, Heidegger's readiness-to-hand (with some modification), Hegelian Geists', Quinean evolutionary epistemology & jettisoning of analytic/synthetic divide, Derrida's no outside-the-text, Habermas' spheres of communication, Luhmann's systems, Putnam's later work & so on (and forgive me for some jostling, as obviously the analogies here are not perfectly apt) are all in their own way subsets of or presuppose epistemic disunity.

Furthermore, epistemic diversity & disunity is also, in many ways,
'just a fact' to the extent such things exist, in a literal & mundane way: particle physics uses different methods than paleontology which uses different methods than astronomy which uses different methods than sociology which uses different methods than ecology which uses different methods than anthropology which uses different methods than biochemistry & so on. They use different methods, different theories, different models, different discourses, different equipment and, no less important, in my opinion, they use different career tracks, different political worldviews, different funding methods, different prestige evaluation, different funding sources, different pragmatic applications & attract different personality types.

This is basically indisputable--what the disagreement it is, several-fold.

First, to get it out of the way, most philosophers of science & scientists dismiss my second group of differences as important whatsoever, relegating these to the "sociology of science" at best & triviality at worst.

Second, and related to the first point, many dismiss the relationship between context of discovery & context of justification--most of the above, they say, applies in one camp or another, but the two are not unified. Scientific method, they assert, is the province of discovery, not justification. Whether or not a 'discovery' is justified successfully & believed, they grant is empirical, but its truth, they assert, must inhere in its discovery.

Third, we have several divides disciplinarily, in that the philosophy of science itself divides into analytic & continental camps, with the former massively having priority within science itself, even as these two camps share analogies & implications.

But, even within analytic's dominance, a time issue remains, as it is early analytic philosophy like positivism & Popperianism which holds sway within science generally as a sort of folk theory of their own work & middle-to-later analytic work--Wittgenstein's turn, Putnam's strong externalism, Davidson's radical interpretations--and so on is much less pronounced.

Some later work, like Searle & Kitcher makes odes to my points above & is read by scientists & such, though is much more mundane. That said, I've some distance with the world of analytic philosophy now, but from what I gather, cool perspectives stemming from Getier cases, Modal realism, performativity in language, presentism in metaphysics & even far afield like feminist epistemology are getting more of their due--and some of this work, I know for a fact, scientists appreciate, such as Modal realism (which I think many see, somewhat inappropriately, as an empirical proposition describing their work, but hey you can't win 'em all).

But this divide then splits outward too, as the philosophy of science has remained opposed to, though in silent dialogue with, Science & Technology Studies, which as a discipline comprises sociological, anthropological, political scientific, literary, historical, archival, rhetorical, media studies of science, with some work on the economics, cognition & 'science' of science as well. STS' assertions will often be orthogonal to much analytic philosophy (though less so today as implied above) but especially to scientists sort of spontaneous worldview, for lack of a better word.

Hence, we have the 'Science Wars' & 'Sokal Affair' of the 90s, where respectively, an arrogant straw-man of STS was used as a cudgel & an act of bad faith used to mock (and not to play point counter, but the Bogdanov's got far more over on physicists than one physicist did on STS). The word 'social construction' became fatuous or an object of scorn & mockery, a short hand for postmodern lunacy. Trotted out were accusations that 'post-modernism & STS' were relativistic Trojan horses attempting to legitimate everything from religion, to fascism to folk medicine.

Of course, the irony is that STS, was actually more scientific than the philosophy of science or the naive auto-anthropology of scientists & was, in the last instance, there to improve science, not destroy it. B. Latour's book was loved by Salk whose lab he worked in. R. Lewontin & S.J. Gould came around to the STS camp. Pinker even inadvertently cites Steven Shapin & NdGT cites Naomi Oreskes' both of whom are firmly in the STS camp--not realizing they're using ostensibly relativistic, constructivist accounts (or at the very least ones which do not distinguish between justification/discovery, epistemology/sociology).

And here's my bugbear: had the acrimony & snark been stripped away in the early 90s on both sides & STS was listened to I think a lot would be different intellectually today. STS warned scientists: do not be arrogant, do not impose, do not be so self-assured, do not use loose terms & undefined words, do not force analogy or outcome, do not worship evidence or method for its own sake, do not denigrate other epistemologies, do not denigrate other disciplines, do not assure yourself of your unity, objectivity, skepticism, freedom from bias & politics & asociality. Remember, they said, science is definitionally social & institutional, involves rhetoric from step one, involves a diversity of disciplines, methods, theories, equipment, styles & personalities, is not free from the issues plaguing the fact/value, analytic/synthetic, genesis/structure & nature/culture divides and is not assured a permanent place in the world as the queen of policy, morality, culture, media, technology & esteem.

(On the other hand, had STS not been so keen to snarkily dismiss scientists & their own accounts, things may have also been different. As Paul Churchland points out, the naive & spontaneous epistemology of scientists may be 'wrong'--inasmuch as a worldview can be wrong--but an anthropologist can't dismiss the natives, they have to understand them and precisely take their own interpretations into account. An anthro or soc who mocked an Amazonian tribe or Inner city Gang would be ruthlessly untethered from the discipline--but this was acceptable, for a long time, in STS, though not as much (Edit) now. Clearly, tacit/local/folk theories of any 'natives' have to be understood: What is the content & form of their belief? Why is that their belief, both historically & practically? What effect does that belief have on their work? Can we see the world through their eyes, as members of their tribe? Etc.).

Now, this is not to say that had they accepted these issues climate denial & creationism wouldn't exist--that would be absurd & a vast over-estimation of the importance of a. abstract concepts within disciplinary practice and b. the power of academia outside generally.

BUT, to say the least, people like Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye & even Stehen Hawking, Malcolm Gladwell, E.O. Wilson, Noam Chomsky or even further afield Bill Maher, Christopher Hitchen, Sam Harris & Stefan Molyneux have done substantially more damage to the credibility of science than they have spread its belief.

Oreskes' 97% meme has been very influential in the climate debates (

Latour foresaw the sort of 'revisionism before the fact' that would plague modern discussions of everything from climate to fascism (

Acknowledgement that observer-dependence & not-integrability may 'go all the way down', so to speak, in physics was a well trodden STS point (it's your discipline but I love this account of performativity in physics: , this account of the phil of physics: & this awesome joint work on physics & philosophy: & finally this book: ).

Furthermore, my STS advisor is doing computational STS, where he is using big data batches of ancillary discussion & discursive movement in an attempt to 'quantify' bias in scientific experimentations & then is partnering with scientists in those fields to re-run the experiments accounting for this bias metric. This may turn out to be science fiction rather than science, but if it works, it'd be extremely useful to things like medicine & tech. Another professor, from Undergrad, operationalized a Darwinian model of theory formation which automated pharmaceutical discovery. He couldn't develop it because the IP costs were too steep, so they left it at only one major confirmation & publication, but the idea is still very cool.

Anyway, I hope that helps!

u/ADefiniteDescription · 2 pointsr/badphilosophy

Awesome, thanks! And yeah, the joke is fine, given you know something about the discipline and its history, but I just dunno if it's the kind of thing I can take a chance on.

If you do end up reading some Dummett, there's a couple options. He has a collection of intro essays called The Nature and Future of Philosophy. His essay on realism in there is pretty clear on what he believes and who his opponents are.

The downside of reading Dummett is although he's brilliant, he's often seen as a really difficult writer. The majority of his important work is contained within an anthology of his papers called Truth and Other Enigmas. A more readable introduction to his main research programme, the semantic anti-realism / constructivism, is Thought and Reality. OUP has a useful summary:

> In this short, lucid, rich book Michael Dummett sets out his views about some of the deepest questions in philosophy. The fundamental question of metaphysics is: what does reality consist of? To answer this, Dummett holds, it is necessary to say what kinds of fact obtain, and what constitutes their holding good. Facts correspond with true propositions, or true thoughts: when we know which propositions, or thoughts, in general, are true, we shall know what facts there are in general. Dummett considers the relation between metaphysics, our conception of the constitution of reality, and semantics, the theory that explains how statements are determined as true or as false in terms of their composition out of their constituent expressions. He investigates the two concepts on which the bridge that connects semantics to metaphysics rests, meaning and truth, and the role of justification in a theory of meaning. He then examines the special semantic and metaphysical issues that arise with relation to time and tense.

> On this basis Dummett puts forward his controversial view of reality as indeterminate: there may be no fact of the matter about whether an object does or does not have a given property. We have to relinquish our deep-held realist understanding of language, the illusion that we know what it is for any proposition that we can frame to be true independently of our having any means of recognizing its truth, and accept that truth depends on our capacity to apprehend it. Dummett concludes with a chapter about God.

u/lapse_of_taste · 27 pointsr/badphilosophy

Also, might be worth a Deke nomination, but I'm not gonna spend the time to make sure unless I also get paid for looking at his book. Oh and he also has a blog.

Some quotes from that page:

> I think most ethical discussions are framed incorrectly. Ethics is about intention, not actions or consequences. I am drawn to ethical nihilism, with one exception: love. Nothing matters except for love

He has also written on free will and doesn't know what compatibilism is, so I don't have high hopes. Oh, and then there's this:

> In my own research, I have discovered a consistent truth: the mainstream conclusions in any field of thought are wrong. And to my surprise, a great deal of confusion comes from mathematics. Modern irrationalism – the lazy acceptance of contradictions into one’s worldview – seems to stem from mathematical errors made around the turn of the 20th century

He has also solved the liar's paradox.

Edit: Also, calls himself an Anarchist(read: Ron Paul fanboy) and is surprised that nobody takes Austrian economics seriously.

u/sensible_knave · 3 pointsr/badphilosophy

>If you have a recommendation for a book that has compiled arguments in favor of moral realism, then I'd be interested in tracking a copy down at the library.

I recommended what I think is best. Start with Shafer-Landau, move on to Enoch. The devil's in the details, and you're doing yourself a disservice looking for shortcuts.

That said, a good textbook is David Copp's (ed) The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory.

Keep your eye out for this, which looks like it'll be fantastic: The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics (forthcoming 2017, Tristram Mcpherson co-edited with David Plunkett):

>This volume surveys the terrain of contemporary metaethics in forty-five specially commissioned chapters.

u/Wegmarken · 9 pointsr/badphilosophy

I recently finished Ibram Kendi's Stamped from the Beginning, which I recommend both as an excellent book in general, and because towards the end he addresses topics like racial intelligence, and even addresses the controversy around the book The Bell Curve. He's great, and contains a few footnotes that you can follow, one of which is in my Amazon wishlist, Race Unmasked by Michael Yudell. Currently reading Adam Cohen's Imbeciles, which talks about the eugenics movement in America, which is obviously related, although it's more focused on the legal logistics rather than the science and ideology (so far!). Sitting on the shelf is James Whitman's Hitler's American Model, which I'm looking forward to.

For a more fun and accessible take on the topic, ContraPoints is wonderful.

Disclaimer: I do not normally condone the presence of Learns^TM in this sub, but this seemed like a special case. We now return to our previously scheduled programming of philosophy memes.

u/wokeupabug · 3 pointsr/badphilosophy

There's a lot of renewed interest in logical positivism these days. E.g., from David Chalmers, Michael Friedman...

It's a much more sophisticated philosophy than the caricatures suggest. There's been a polemic interest in caricaturing logical positivism since it was the movement we were supposed to be distancing ourselves from through the mid-to-late twentieth century. But as this polemic interest fades into history, there's naturally an increasing interest in more nuanced engagements with the movement.

u/lawofmurray · 1 pointr/badphilosophy

>I'll grant that it's not rock solid by any means (little in philosophy is), but there's general consensus on the matter about the overall sorting strategy. The battles are typically fought over whether certain problematic dialogues belong in one group or the other.

I don't know how analytics treat Plato, but in the Continental world there's a lot more battling going on. Which texts are authentic, for instance, is still hotly contested. That "sorting strategy" is also hotly contested. But I'm open minded. If you were to pick one source or author who best defends the merits of this division, who or what would it be?


Oh Jesus, I'll have to wade through my old college notes and get back to you. I seem to remember this old thing having some compelling information. (It also defends the claim that, contrary to what many contemporary classics professors argue, there are very few apocryphal dialogues. Which is cool.)

>Fine, granted. But then it seems misleading to me to claim that Socrates was the foremost external influence on the Church; one should claim, to be safe, that Plato was. If you're concerned with literary character then credit the author and creator, not the fiction itself.

I thought it was clear given that the Socrates in question is the Socrates of the Euthyphro, the literary Socrates. I'm not sure what we're arguing about here, we agree that it's Plato's writings that attracted early Christians and not the historic Socrates.

u/simism66 · 6 pointsr/badphilosophy

Yeah, D.Z. Phillips has some pretty interesting and influential Wittgensteinian views in philosophy of religion. He has a book with Kai Nielson called Wittgensteinian Fideism? that's quite good. Norman Malcolm and Peter Winch have also notably written some stuff on Wittgenstein and philosophy of religion, but I think it's less careful that Phillips' work. Also, William Alston has a great paper called "The Christian Language Game," which is a bit more traditional than the other stuff, but coming from a similar perspective.

u/Mongolian_Colonizer · 1 pointr/badphilosophy


He's not exactly Katy Perry albums, but anybody with a harmonious heart and a brain usually ends up finding him. Usually through Tolstoy, Proust, or Ghandi. And Penguin pulled of this rather gorgeous edition of Unto This Last.

u/ScientismForNone · 5 pointsr/badphilosophy

I follow the words of the great Prophet Harris (Peace be upon Him). But I have great respect for followers of Dawkins, for they are people of the book.

u/ofrm1 · 1 pointr/badphilosophy

There's actually a bunch of stories I could tell about him because he was so controversial of a professor within the department. I knew this because I was on pretty good terms with the other professors, and I got the impression that they weren't fans of him.

His way of thinking was just erratic. The class started with a general guide to QM, then moved to Georg Cantor's Diagonal argument for transfinites, then moved to super symmetry and string theory, and just kept going off in a ton of different directions.

Also, it was super hard. You could tell he had no clue what students he had in his class because the textbook he referred to was something like this:

We're talking about undergrad phil students that likely haven't even had a college-level physics course. Also, from the beginning of the entire course I called bullshit on him knowing string theory. There's no way he understood the material in that textbook.

Then again, this is a professor who claimed to be more well read on structural engineering than the vast majority of all engineers, so the delusion was strong in this one.

u/Proud_Bum · 1 pointr/badphilosophy

Yes and I sneak in some cooked ham bits into it sometimes. Wild mushrooms not always but I make steamed asparagus with balsamic vinegar to compliment. My cooking is limited but this I have perfected to an art. I just never have anyone to share my food stuff with. This book has helped me improve my food game.