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October 27, 2011

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Internally consistent - means that it doesnt lead to any logical, mathematical or empirical paradoxes. So for instance, it's entirely possible that we have two competing theories which are mutually incompatible and which explain the data with similar accuracy. This does happen fairly often and we usually use non-scientific reasons for deciding between the two of them (for example, we pick the theory with the easier maths).

How can you derive the philsophy of science from science? You cant. When you think about *how* you are doing science, or the fundamentals it rests on, you cease doing science.
We need to propose some basic statements to know anything at all - all knowledge is contingent on some unverifiable statements that are preassumed. Once we´ve assumed them, we can look where this leads. For science (apologies for repetition but for the sake of completeness) the proposed statements are that there are observers, they can communicate about their observations and some basic logical statements. We can´t verify these statements, nor falsify them. But if we assume them, we can do science. In the same way, we can axiomatize mathematical theories, by assuming some objects with particular properties.
It´s worth noting that none of these disciplines needs to assure that the entities it uses exist, i.e. they don´t imply an ontological comitment. Science doesn´t require us to assume that nature exists, Maths doesn´t require us to assume that numbers or sets exist. Theology does not require us to assume that god exists.

Science studies observations (i.e. how the world appears to be). Hence why the basic axioms of science don't include the assumption that what we observe is "real", because it's simply irrelevant to the study of observations, or phenomena.

So the conclusions (you mention) are only reliable in that they are consistent. And we can do this precisely BECAUSE we have made no claims about observational reality and real reality being similar or even related. None of it is real and none of it is true.

I dont think I can explain it any better than that. I'm not a great teacher it is true (much to my mother's disappointment)


Hi Physics, I dont think I am really following you[easily], and honestly I wouldn't suggest that its any lack on your end-good teacher or not. I am really trying to get what you are saying and hope to not appear dense about it. If you are tiring of the discussion, we can move on, but I want to point out a few things.

The terms and definitions are, I think, are a cause of confusion in this whole discussion. I would go so far as to say we aren't speaking the same language even though there are common words. Take for instance your first sentence seems to me to be using the word "paradox" as a synonym for "contradiction". Paradox is, as I understand it, an apparent contradiction between two propositions which upon closer inspection proves to be coherent. This is on top of the confusion regarding the phrase "internally consistent". Actually I think this phrase is being sufficiently fleshed out for me to see what you are intending, and its not at all what I was thinking of. I still think in general, science done right has to stand on the shoulders of theology and philosophy which seems clear to me that you reject.

You ask "how can you derive the philosophy of science from science?" then "You cant."

This is true, I agree completely but I only asked for you to do it under the misunderstanding of how you use the phrase "internally consistent". I believe that scientists use philosophy all the time, and they assume things about mankind without justification, and question beg also, but they just dont[want to] acknowledge it. An example of question begging is saying that man fits his environment and its apparent design for him because he's evolved in it.

Thing is, no physical observation presents itself as such a brute fact that is doesn't need interpretation. A presupposition that the physical is independent of or autonomous from the supernatural will drive interpretation away from metaphysical conclusions. Materialism is a philosophical a priori presupposition, every piece of evidence presented to that system is interpreted through that lens. This, or else such a blatant incoherency would expose the system to ridicule. Subtler incoherencies exist in science as you seem to be describing it--that it doesn't need the metaphysical, categories, or forms or other foundations.

This isn't to say that the physical world cannot be explained by physical proofs, just that the tools to do that aren't physical and must be accounted for not just assumed[if one wants justified knowledge]. Justified knowledge has force, unjustified knowledge is equal to mere opinion.


"I still think in general, science done right has to stand on the shoulders of theology and philosophy which seems clear to me that you reject."

Why should science stand on theology?

"I believe that scientists use philosophy all the time, and they assume things about mankind without justification, and question beg also, but they just dont[want to] acknowledge it. An example of question begging is saying that man fits his environment and its apparent design for him because he's evolved in it"

I sounds to me like you need to decide whether it is science you dont like, or the conclusions science throws up you dont like. I assume you dont like this because it conficts with a religious view you hold?

*If* I am right about this, consider that the Catholic Church has regularly amended itself to agree with science (like evolution, the big bang etc) because it recognises that religion and science are 2 seperate ways of discovering knowlegde.

Hi Physics, I'll go down the last response as far as I can tonight.

"Why should science stand on theology?"

Science should stand on theology because within its own stated limitations, it cannot present a comprehensive justification for conclusions it presents as knowledge. It cannot even begin to explain knowledge, logic, thinking, order, forms or categories, being, or uniformity of nature.

Without a justification for its conclusions, there is no force to compel belief that what it concludes is trustworthy. In other words, if the knowledge is justified, the force of sound logic demands adherence to the scientific methods conclusions such that it's claims are justified by another authority, one that has a self attesting nature--one that rests on an ultimate proposition. Natural science without foundations presents opinion.

A fortunate circumstance for natural science is that the laws of nature also enforce some of the most basic conclusions that the science world has claimed to know. Like the law of gravity, most obviously, enforces itself[along with other laws of motion]. The trouble comes in when more subtle truths are claimed as true. [Now I see your stance in this discussion is that science doesn't claim to know what is really real. I have never seen this admission before, and dont know how widely it is held] Maybe unwarranted truths are claimed in this less academic world, but it's my experience to see it in the academic world--that is, science produces truth.

Theology properly done should not limit science at all nor be at enmity with it so long as natural science is done properly. It [theology] should provide the discipline the tools and the authority to enjoy existence.

Sorry this is getting long, it will have to do for now.

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