Thursday, July 27, 2006

Philosophy and science: different in degree only?

Quine said that philosohy was on a continuum with science. He also said, "Philosophy of science is philosophy enough." I'm not sure if I've heard a good explanation of the way(s) in which philosophy is different only in degree and not in kind from scientific practice in general. Here are a couple of stabs at what that could mean. First, he could have meant that there is no first philosophy above science and all philosophy should come from science. This might not be too far off. Another way of taking it is that philosophy should be commentary on scientific results and the practice of scientists. This would explain the philosophy of science quip. A third way of taking it is that science is the regimenting of common sense practices of testing and forming beliefs to make sense of the evidence and philosophy is also a method of systematizing common sense and bringing it into reflective equilibrium. This would be a kind of David Lewis idea of philosophy. I don't think this is exactly what Quine had in mind, but it meshes well with his idea.

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