The Instigator
Philosophy123
Con (against)
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0 Points
The Contender
BBGun
Pro (for)
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0 Points

Philosophy is dead, or has been replaced by science

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 689 times Debate No: 71329
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (14)
Votes (0)

 

Philosophy123

Con

This will be an argument that will debate logically, if science has replaced philosophy or as Stephen Hawking so ignorantly said if "Philosophy is dead." I will define both philosophy and science for my opponent:
Philosophy: A way of perceiving or understanding reality with logical thought.
Science: A way of perceiving reality with empirical thought and observation.
BBGun

Pro

Hello everyone, I hope you enjoy my first debate here on debate.org.

At the risk of appearing to be moving the goal posts on my opponent, I think it is important to address the framing of the topic and clarify the position I will argue for. The debate, as explicated above, sets up philosophy and science as competing strategies. This is problematic for anyone electing to argue the affirmative of the reslolution if philosophy is a "way of...understanding reality with logical thought." To be clear, science does not eschew logical thought--or even philosophy more generally--in practice. It would be absurd indeed to deny that the application of logical analysis is not useful for understanding the world.

What I will argue is that science is a more advanced step along the evolution of strategies and technologies for understanding nature and reality than philosophy. This does not mean that philosophy is dead per se, but it has been replaced insofar as it is not as reliable a method of discovery as science. Just as the ancients replaced mythology with philosophy as a means to determine truth, science is a further improved method for making determinations and verifying claims.

Philosophy is no more dead than mythology is, but it is time for philosophy to pass the torch, as it were, and recognize science as the chief arbiter on matters of fact.
Debate Round No. 1
Philosophy123

Con

Although I do believe that philosophy has meaningful knowledge to offer I also believe that science is currently the more efficient way of gaining information, therefore your changing of the terms takes away a good quantity of my arguments. This is not the debate I offered, and I feel the terms set by Pro is similar enough to my own beliefs that I would be a hippocrit to attempt this debate.
BBGun

Pro

The resolution can still be argued against. Philosophy has indeed been replaced by Science as the best way to gather knowledge about the world (as you just conceded). I was merely objecting to the definitions you provided. Under the definitions you provided, it is implied that logic is the same thing as philosophy. To ask someone to argue that logic is dead, does not present as fair or interesting.
Debate Round No. 2
Philosophy123

Con

This will be a rather short debate, I'd like to thank pro for accepting the debate even if it will be short. I apologize for my definition of philosophy, I meant that it is a field which uses logic to figure out problems in the world usually without empirical evidence or scientific/proven hypothesis, philosophy being pure logic and science being the classic hypothesis/experimentation(using its own form of logic as pro already pointed out). It was foolish of me to assume everyone would know what I was talking about. One of the people in comments asked me what new knowledge philosophy has to offer and here is my list.
A. Science cannot teach you how to live. It cannot teach you ethics, how to live, why to live, why live has meaning. Philosophy in my opinion has still not figured out these problems, all the arguments have obvious flaws in them. A system of morals or a lifestyle based upon science will always end in failure because we as humans need more than pure science in our lives. One could perhaps make a statement that Metaphysics is dead but fields like Epistemology and Ethics are far from dead. Even if you said Metaphysics is dead, you are left with paradoxes and questions which cannot be explained by physics(like the Bundle of Hay paradox or the Arrow or half-way paradox, you don't see science trying to explain these even thought they are obviously problems with our current form of logic)
B. Philosophy has morphed from being the main way of gaining knowledge into a field which is here to explain what science cannot. Therefore, I contend that philosophy will not be dead until the day science can accurately answer all logical questions about the universe and it of course cannot, in fact it is not that close either. It is foolish of us to think we are the height of scientific achievement and that some of our current theories will not be considered foolish in fifty years. Physics still can't explain much of Quantum Physics, we are still working on String Theory, we cannot explain the Big Bang. This is only the beginning for science maybe in two-hundred years philosophy will be dead/useless but today there are still so many unanswered questions left by science.
C. Philosophy is crucial in the development of logic and logical thinking, people can try and deny it but in the study of pure logic, philosophy is the current peak of study.
D. Science currently can't explain many concepts in Epistemology and never will be able to. Science is by its nature quantifiable in all of its conclusions and therefore will never be able to answer objective arguments with logic, something philosophy does exceptionally well.
I have shown ways in which Philosophy can give new knowledge and proven that the field is not dead.
BBGun

Pro

I think I can address each of these points in turn and show that Philosophy is not currently the best way to approach them.

My opponent says we need moral philosophy to give life meaning and direct how we ought to live (before conceding that philosophy has failed to finally make these determinations for us). He goes on to insist that an ethic based in science is doomed to fail. Is this true? Do philosophers themselves even agree with my opponent on this point? Anscombe says we are not qualified to give moral edicts until we have a better understanding human psychology(1) and I consider uncontroversial to assert that it is modern science, and not philosophy, that is progressing and making real, useful discoveries in the field. Moral philosophy begins with a basic assumption about what is good, and from that proposition makes logical inferences about how actors ought to behave. Utilitarians promote pleasure or happiness, social contract theory would have use avoid a state of nature, Kantian ethics prohibits acting on maxims that are not universalisable, etc. These assumptions may be rationally justified by philosophy, but they are not _discovered_ in this way. Philosophy does not have the monopoly on making basic assumptions about what is good. Once we choose a particular foundational principle, however, it is in the realm of science to discover what conduct--in the real, physical world--is best for achieving these desired ends. For example, a philosopher may tell us that the reduction of suffering is the primary ethic by which we must all live but it is only through experimentation that we can determine exactly what is most successful at reducing harm. Sam Harris proposes just this (using human flourishing as the foundational standard) (2).

My opponent also invokes Zeno's paradoxes, indicating that science is powerless to grapple with the idea of infinite divisibility, I assume. We can thank Aristotle (who is also dead, by the way) for already dealing with these problems for us (3), but lets assume he hadn't. I think it would be elementary to devise a scientific experiment to test, for example, who would in a race between Achilles and a tortoise (4). Science (particularly physics) _does_ work on problems like this despite what my opponent says. Quantum physics (which I am certainly not qualified to discuss in any detail) works on precisely these kind of problems. The incompleteness of Science does not, as far as I can tell, cause us to rely on philosophy to answer questions. If anything, the incompleteness of science requires us to perform more science, work on the completion of the project as this is the only way to either confirm or deny our philosophical reckonings to a satisfactory degree. My opponent contends that there are questions that science cannot answer and those are the questions we require philosophy but he fails to cite any questions which science cannot explain but philosophy has made indubitable conclusions about. If there are any such questions, I can't think of them.

Con and I agree that logic is crucial to making determinations about the world, and Con says philosophy is peak of the study of logic. To this point, I would only recommend that my opponent do a quick google search of the term "mathematics."

Finally, Con claims that Science is helpless to provide explanations of some, unidentified epistemological concepts. He goes on to accuse science of being unable to employ logic to contend with "objective arguments." These claims are specious at best. Regarding the mysterious epistemological concepts that science cannot explain, I think what my opponent ought to have said is that science can not _yet_ explain them. To that point I will say only this: philosophy has had its turn for a couple thousand years or so to explain these phenomenon, perhaps it is time to give Science a fair crack at it. To the point that science is not objective, this accusation is just false. The entire point of science (done well) is to remove subjectivity and bias and be as objective as possible. This is just the thing that makes science so great.

It is clear that for any problem philosophy might tackle, science will ultimately make the final judgment. How does philosophy even work? You have premises that direct toward a conclusion. If the argument is valid--that is if they necessitate the conclusion--and the premises are true, then the conclusion of the philosophical enquiry are certain. However, how do you determine whether or not the premises of any argument are true (excepting, of course, semantical arguments and tautological truisms)? You test them, obviously. What is the current best method to conduct such a test? The scientific method, clearly.

(1) G. E. M. Anscombe, "Modern Moral Philosophy."
(2) Sam Harris, "The Moral Landscape."
(3) Aristotle, "Physics" 6.2 233a
(4) Ibid, 6.9 239b
Debate Round No. 3
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
Thanks. Is it understandable without the G.
Posted by BBGun 1 year ago
BBGun
His name is Hawking. With a G.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
I'm going to draw some inferences here. I think what Hawkins said upset to for some reason. So you lashed out, "Hawkins doesn't know enough physics to slams philosophy." "Hawkins doesn't know philosophy so he dismisses it." I've asked to how you know these claims you have made. You haven't answered those questions. So you are really in no position to say why Hawkins made the statement, despite claiming you do know.
I also suspect you wish something to be true and you think philosophy, a discipline that doesn't incorporate evidence or experimentation to validate it's conclusions, can be used to support. I also suspect you don't much care for science, since science can find no evidence of that thing you wish to be true. Of course, that isn't science's fault.
I would agree with him. Humanity is likely to kill itself before to long. I think there is a fair chance this will happen. Heck, we've been killing each other since we walked out of the savannah. We really enjoy killing each other. Really our favorite past time. Throw in nuclear weapons, religion, genetically engineered disease, the denial of climate change and the irrational behavior of humans, Hawkins is very justified in thinking humans we destroy themselves in the next few centuries. I would say, it is more likely than not, in the next two hundred years, humans will destroy themselves.
Posted by Philosophy123 1 year ago
Philosophy123
A. Stephen Hawking has sometimes seemed to contradict himself, at times seeming to try and bring Idealism into science(which if you ask me doesn't make much sense at all).
B. He logically thinks that humanity will struggle to survive another one-hundred years. I find his thinking especially towards the end of his life to be illogical.
C. Obviously he must be illogical if he thinks philosophy has no knowledge to offer. He is overly confident in science.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
Oh, read your first comment and was thinking, "did I miss it?" Second one tells me you haven't posted it yet. I'm thinking you are referring to my question of what new information philosophy has to offer. I will wait for you debate response to read the answer. However, I also asked question pertaining to Hawkins that isn't related to your debate topic. If you could address that one I would appreciate it. How do you know much Hawkins knows about philosophy?
Speaking personally, I have no idea of what Hawkins knows about philosophy. How do you know?
Posted by Philosophy123 1 year ago
Philosophy123
You know when I write it, eventually.
Posted by Philosophy123 1 year ago
Philosophy123
Read my entry to the debate that should answer your question.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
How do you know how much Hawkins knows about philosophy? Maybe he knows much about it, and this knowledge has led him to conclude philosophy is a dead discipline. Also, you never answered my question. What new information does philosophy have to offer us?
Posted by Philosophy123 1 year ago
Philosophy123
I still fully believe that Stephen Hawking saying "Philosophy is dead" holds no weight whether you agree with him or not, a physicist proclaiming a field which he knows little about is dead is absurd.
Posted by NoMagic 1 year ago
NoMagic
Your original statement was that he is rejecting philosophy because he doesn't know enough physics. I'm glad you have rescinded that statement. Maybe his statement is wrong. But so was your claim concerning why he made the statement. Of course someone considers themselves a philosopher wouldn't be fond of Hawkins statement. But that doesn't mean his statement is wrong either. What new information do you think philosophy has to offer?
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