Science and the Good (Book review wrt deriving morality from science)

(Wayne Dawson) #41

Living in Japan for some time, I’ve had the chance to visit Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It is interesting sometimes to be on a train, bus, subway etc., and realize that the US (my homeland) and Japan were in a terrible war at one time. That was also my thought when I visited Germany briefly. I find it incomprehensible. I really don’t know.

There is a strange contradiction with nuclear weapons … though we can destroy the world on a planetary scale, that has strangely led to more than 70 years of peace; though it is probably “peace” in the sense of the Japanese characters 「和平」 which implies the absence of conflict rather than 「平和」which is the word for peace.

(Mitchell W McKain) #42

Working to prove, demonstrate, and establish their claims is what lawyers, politicians, preachers, and used car salesmen do. Thus what the scientific method describes is an important difference which I thought was important to make clear, whether you understood this or not. But this is not to say that what lawyers and such do is not important. Rhetoric is central to the functionality of human civilization, but this doesn’t change the fact that science uses a different methodology.

I am a physicist. And you are? … I see that there is a W. K. Dawson in medical research, radiology.

On the contrary, we must not. Science is simply an activity, just one among many, like sanitation, poetry, religion, and football. We are free to do what ever we choose with our time and value those activities above any other if we like, as long as we understand such valuations only apply to ourselves.

(Wayne Dawson) #43

Are you saying that lawyer, politicians, used car salesmen, and even preachers don’t test hypotheses before they do a demonstration? I’m sure they do – at least the good ones.

… and it is not like scientists never behave like politicians, salesman, lawyers or preachers either. Those strategies actually appear to be fairly effective ways to get grants.

Moreover, testing alone is not an adequate criteria. There were a lot of things working against Copernicus’ hypothesis when it was first introduced; first and foremost, it didn’t immediately improve predictions. There were very damning criticisms related to parallax too. At that time, one could already observe to the scale of an arc minute. In fact, the strongest opponents of the heliocentric model were the scientists of Copernicus’ time. You can read more about it from this source (Unfortunately, Physics Today has a paywall, but since you probably would belong to APS, you can access it). If it were solely decided by existing knowledge at the time, we’d still be calculating epicycles — great math, but ultimately bull shine.

Rather, I would argue that the process of scientific understanding is quite complicated, multifaceted, and relies partly on faith to advance it.

I’m also a physicist, you can find me on Researchgate.

(Christy Hemphill) #44

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