Philosophers Help Scientists do Better Work


Some empiricists argue that science is a separate discipline from philosophy, and those thinkers may want to rethink their stance. The debate isn’t philosophy or science, the debate is actually how much philosophical rigour should be applied within a certain field of research. In order to effectively advance scientific fields scientists practice philosophical processes and patterns of thinking.

This hopefully comes to no surprise to many readers as we often see on this site that cross disciplinary practices usually provide the best approach. Plus, historically science and philosophy are one.

The researchers identified a substantial body of work by philosophers of science that used “philosophical tools to address scientific problems and provide scientifically useful proposals.” They call such work philosophy in science. So what kind of tools do philosophers use that can be applied to science?  The study authors don’t offer an exhaustive list, but point to activities such as making distinctions and proposing definitions, critiquing scientific methods, and combining multiple scientific fields as examples of typical philosophical tools.  And while scientists use these methods too, they don’t tend to do so as often or as rigorously as philosophers.

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