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11/25/2018 4:45 pm  #1


Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

I'm interested in learning more about the metaphysical presuppositions of modern science and, broadly speaking, secural thought. I'm specifically looking for something that gives a general overview of the historical origins of modern metaphysics and how it flourished despite emerging from a world which endorsed a more Aristotelian understanding of nature.

 

11/25/2018 5:23 pm  #2


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

This one is simple: Scientists would deny that they have any metaphysics or metaphysical presuppositions. They would insist that they are fully empirical and impartial.

Philosophers that truly care about their own field (and about science) would show that scientists actually do have implicit metaphysics and they (scientists) would greatly gain from being aware of it.

We (philosophers and scientists) have ended up in the current situation because science and philosophy have diverged over centuries. The two have become more distinct and the reputation of philosophy has gone downhill as the reputation of science has gone uphill.

For the time being, philosophers would lose any debate with scientists by virtue of popular opinion. There is no way of effectively implicating scientists of metaphysics or other things of the sort. The best that one can do is educate oneself on the issues. One reason why philosophy has a bad rep is due to outdated medieval science practised by medieval philosophers back when philosophy and science were not as distinguished as they are now.

In my view, the story is that science and philosophy diverged yet they cannot be disconnected, regardless what some scientists claim. Physics touches metaphysics whenever it asks "what ultimately exists?" Mathematics with abstract/idealised notions/forms is analogous to metaphysics almost throughout. And these are the two most important sciences.

Different scientists in these fields may safely hold to different metaphysical views - insofar as science and metaphysics are distinct - but in some cases the impact of a specific metaphysics on a specific science is obvious - Darwinian evolutionists definitely dismiss biology done by creationists. For these reasons - some of the common questions and some of the spillover effects - science and philosophy are not fully separable.

 

11/28/2018 4:26 am  #3


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

RomanJoe wrote:

I'm interested in learning more about the metaphysical presuppositions of modern science and, broadly speaking, secural thought. I'm specifically looking for something that gives a general overview of the historical origins of modern metaphysics and how it flourished despite emerging from a world which endorsed a more Aristotelian understanding of nature.

Hi Joe,

You might find this one interesting:

​E.A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science: The Scientific thinking of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and their Contemporaries, Humanity Books, 1999

​There are various editions going back to the 1920s. It is quite old but is quite easy to get hold of if you don't have access to a university library and it covers specifically the move from the Aristotelian worldview to the Cartesian/Newtonian one.

 

11/28/2018 7:12 am  #4


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

From what I gather, Its actually quite difficult to say what kind of metaphysics science presupposes by looking at various scientific theories. Means from simply science its very difficult to get true ontology of the world, Although science does successfully discard certain class of views. I have seen philosophers argue that different aspects of science in fact entail contradictory metaphysical views or atleast leave too much open metaphysical questions. Some philosophers of science basically then try to eliminate the subject entirely from our ontology based on there being open questions on it for example Objects or Substances are eliminated by Ontic Structural realists because of the same considerations, from what I understand.

In a recent book which I haven't read but from its abstract the author Anjan Chakravartty argues that "In crucial respects, ontology is in the eye of the beholder: it is informed by underlying commitments with implications for the limits of inquiry, which inevitably vary across rational inquirers. As a result, the proper scope of ontology is subject to a striking form of voluntary choice, yielding a new and transformative conception of scientific ontology"

So maybe then to certain extent metaphysical presupposition of Science are decided by inquirers themselves.

You might want to check out this book.

https://www.amazon.com/Scientific-Ontology-Integrating-Naturalized-Epistemology/dp/0190651458

Also I would recommend "Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized" By James Ladyman and others, I think this is the most sophisticated defense of scientism and naturalism, I don't know if its successful and It seem Ontic-Structural realism is the most viable alternative to A-T philosophy at least more than what appears to be versions of atomism, although its not much engaged with by ATist yet. Its also uploaded online by some atheist blogger I think, try google

 

11/28/2018 3:09 pm  #5


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

Calhoun wrote:

Also I would recommend "Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized" By James Ladyman and others, I think this is the most sophisticated defense of scientism and naturalism,

I read several chapters of that plus a paper and a YouTube video by/with Ladyman. I too thought he made a sophisticated defense. I am not signing on to "scientism," but I do like his caution to metaphysicians that they not ignore developments in science, esp. in physics, but rather seek to make use of them.

Right now I'm reading Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom. It is pretty good so far and not laced with symbolic logic. In his Introduction, Smith says that philosophical metaphysics today is consistent with (or maybe he means, "aspires to be consistent with") contemporary scientific theory and is partly based on it. He clarifies that the present book stands in the analytic philosophical tradition. some topics; nature of substances, persons, changes, eternity, divine foreknowledge, fatalism, the universe. As to physics, he says that the metaphysician's task is to interpret the physicist's equations for an understanding of time and the universe, but metaphysics doesn't collapse into talk about physics: "we cannot help but adopt and live by various metaphysical beliefs" (Smith's italics)... "Metaphysics deals with the rock-bottom issues that no one can escape"
 

 

11/28/2018 3:52 pm  #6


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

FZM wrote:

RomanJoe wrote:

I'm interested in learning more about the metaphysical presuppositions of modern science and, broadly speaking, secural thought. I'm specifically looking for something that gives a general overview of the historical origins of modern metaphysics and how it flourished despite emerging from a world which endorsed a more Aristotelian understanding of nature.

Hi Joe,

You might find this one interesting:

​E.A. Burtt, The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Physical Science: The Scientific thinking of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and their Contemporaries, Humanity Books, 1999

​There are various editions going back to the 1920s. It is quite old but is quite easy to get hold of if you don't have access to a university library and it covers specifically the move from the Aristotelian worldview to the Cartesian/Newtonian one.

Thanks for the suggestion. Found a copy of it open to the public domain on Archive.org!

     Thread Starter
 

11/28/2018 3:53 pm  #7


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

ficino wrote:

Calhoun wrote:

Also I would recommend "Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized" By James Ladyman and others, I think this is the most sophisticated defense of scientism and naturalism,

I read several chapters of that plus a paper and a YouTube video by/with Ladyman. I too thought he made a sophisticated defense. I am not signing on to "scientism," but I do like his caution to metaphysicians that they not ignore developments in science, esp. in physics, but rather seek to make use of them.

Right now I'm reading Quentin Smith and L. Nathan Oaklander, Time, Change and Freedom. It is pretty good so far and not laced with symbolic logic. In his Introduction, Smith says that philosophical metaphysics today is consistent with (or maybe he means, "aspires to be consistent with") contemporary scientific theory and is partly based on it. He clarifies that the present book stands in the analytic philosophical tradition. some topics; nature of substances, persons, changes, eternity, divine foreknowledge, fatalism, the universe. As to physics, he says that the metaphysician's task is to interpret the physicist's equations for an understanding of time and the universe, but metaphysics doesn't collapse into talk about physics: "we cannot help but adopt and live by various metaphysical beliefs" (Smith's italics)... "Metaphysics deals with the rock-bottom issues that no one can escape"
 

Interesting. I'll take a look at it.

     Thread Starter
 

11/28/2018 3:54 pm  #8


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

Calhoun wrote:

From what I gather, Its actually quite difficult to say what kind of metaphysics science presupposes by looking at various scientific theories. Means from simply science its very difficult to get true ontology of the world, Although science does successfully discard certain class of views. I have seen philosophers argue that different aspects of science in fact entail contradictory metaphysical views or atleast leave too much open metaphysical questions. Some philosophers of science basically then try to eliminate the subject entirely from our ontology based on there being open questions on it for example Objects or Substances are eliminated by Ontic Structural realists because of the same considerations, from what I understand.

In a recent book which I haven't read but from its abstract the author Anjan Chakravartty argues that "In crucial respects, ontology is in the eye of the beholder: it is informed by underlying commitments with implications for the limits of inquiry, which inevitably vary across rational inquirers. As a result, the proper scope of ontology is subject to a striking form of voluntary choice, yielding a new and transformative conception of scientific ontology"

So maybe then to certain extent metaphysical presupposition of Science are decided by inquirers themselves.

You might want to check out this book.

https://www.amazon.com/Scientific-Ontology-Integrating-Naturalized-Epistemology/dp/0190651458

Also I would recommend "Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized" By James Ladyman and others, I think this is the most sophisticated defense of scientism and naturalism, I don't know if its successful and It seem Ontic-Structural realism is the most viable alternative to A-T philosophy at least more than what appears to be versions of atomism, although its not much engaged with by ATist yet. Its also uploaded online by some atheist blogger I think, try google

I've heard of that book before but never got around to reading it. What is a general overview of Ladyman and Ross' structural realism?

     Thread Starter
 

11/28/2018 4:25 pm  #9


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

RomanJoe wrote:

I've heard of that book before but never got around to reading it. What is a general overview of Ladyman and Ross' structural realism?

Ladyman has written SEP article on Structural Realism, gives an overview of Structural realism in general and its different version including OSR. 
 

 

12/02/2018 8:32 am  #10


Re: Reading recommendations on the metaphysics behind modern science?

Russell has his Logical Atomism.

Rosenberg has his Eliminative Materialism.

Massimo Pigliucci has his anti-theist Answers for Aristotle and Philosophy of Pseudoscience.

These things are there, but I would not recommend any of it. The only consistent adherents of these metaphysical systems are the authors themselves. Scientists in general do not employ or think much about metaphysics. Insofar as they do, they do so inconsistently.

It is more constructive to either have a dialogue with concrete people, to figure out their particular assumptions and their level of consistency, or to read the history of science/philosophy (they share much of the history).

Or you can read both sides, so to speak. Pick a science that is relevant or accessible for you, get into it and see for yourself what metaphysical system it employes, if any.

 

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