30 December 2009

Philosophy of Science

Here is a little snippet of something I posted on the Doctors.Net.UK forum, but I thought could do with a wider airing. Agree? Disagree?

The problem is that a lot of blowhards who set themselves up as "philosophers of science" have no clue as to what science actually is and how it operates. Many pursue a decidedly post-modern (PoMo) agenda, and one can't help but wonder if it is *jealousy* that drives them, rather than academic rigour. Others are trying to elbow in a little space for their private fantasies (often religion-based - science is rather hard on space pixies). There are of course some very good and honest philosophers of science, and scientists have a great deal to learn from philosophy. Many philosophers would do well to return the favour and pay attention to the science.

PZ has an interesting post on a related issue (as always).

Examples of serious facepalms by so-called "philosophers of science" include the devious but dopey "God's Undertaker" by John Lennox, Mary Midgley's spectacularly idiotic 1976 review of Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" and Jerry Fodor's amazingly confuddled "On Darwinism".

Medical students should indeed learn about the philosophy of science in order to combat such exuberant ignorance. The key skill is *critical thinking*, and I would heartily recommend "Straight and Crooked Thinking" by RH Thouless, now astonishingly out of print, but gettable second hand on ebay & elsewhere. It rocks in a really rocking way.

No comments:

Post a Comment