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At PNAS: Why science needs philosophy

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A paper by well-known thinkers like Carlo Rovelli and Elliott Sober offers instances of the way that philosophers can clarify problems for science:

The study of cognition and cognitive neuroscience offers a striking illustration of the deep and long-lasting influence of philosophy on science. As with immunology, philosophers have formulated influential theories and experiments, helped initiate specific research programs, and contributed to paradigm shifts. But the scale of the influence dwarfs the immunology case. Philosophy had a part in the move from behaviorism to cognitivism and computationalism in the 1960s. Perhaps most visible has been the theory of the modularity of mind, proposed by philosopher Jerry Fodor (10). Its influence on theories of cognitive architecture can hardly be overstated. In a tribute after Fodor’s passing in 2017, leading cognitive psychologist James Russell spoke in the magazine of the British Psychological Society of “cognitive developmental psychology BF (before Fodor) and AF (after Fodor)” (https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/jerry-fodor-1935-2017).

Opinion: Why science needs philosophy Lucie Laplane, Paolo Mantovani, Ralph Adolphs, Hasok Chang, Alberto Mantovani, Margaret McFall-Ngai, Carlo Rovelli, Elliott Sober, Thomas Pradeu Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Mar 2019, 116 (10) 3948-3952; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1900357116

Sounds like they’ve almost forgotten that Jerry Fodor also wrote What Darwin Got Wrong (2010).

The paper is open access.

One Reply to “At PNAS: Why science needs philosophy

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Probably not a good idea to use immunology as a bright and shining example of valid science. The other examples were just trivial. There’s no reason to assume that the experimenters needed any help from genocidal idiots. A smart experimenter can spot trends in the results and design new experiments accordingly. It’s just negative feedback plus memory-based judgment.

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