Coyne (and his commenters) don’t know Philosophy …

Jerry Coyne, in an attempt to continue his campaign against the Templeton Foundation, has taken aim at a new post-doc funded by them and in the process manages to prove that neither he nor those who comment on his blog actually really understand philosophy.

First, Coyne’s objections. Here’s what he quotes as to what the thesis is about:

His postdoctoral research project, “Divine Foreknowledge, the Philosophy of Time, and the Metaphysics of Dependence: Some New Approaches to an Old Problem,” assesses a core Ockhamist thesis about foreknowledge. William of Ockham was a 13th century philosopher.

“The central contention of the Ockhamist concerns a point about the order of explanation. According to the Ockhamist, it is because of what we do that God long ago believed that we would do these things. That is, God’s past beliefs depend in an important sense on what we do, and thus, says the Ockhamist, we can sometimes have a choice about God’s past beliefs,” he explained. “The overarching goal of this project is to develop and assess this core Ockhamist thesis along two underexplored dimensions: the philosophy of time, and the metaphysics of dependence – both of which have seen an explosion of recent interest.”

Coyne retorts:

This is an area about which I’m completely ignorant, and happy to remain so, because it sounds like a godawful cesspool of theological lucubration. It of course begins with three completely unsupported premises: that there is a God, that that God has a mind that has “beliefs,” and that how we act now somehow influences God’s beliefs about our actions long before we performed them. It sounds as if what we do now, then, can go back in time and change God’s beliefs. (That, at least, is how I interpret the gobbledygook above.)

Given those three bogus assumptions, the candidate will then spend many dollars ruminating about how God’s prior beliefs relate to the philosophy of time and metaphysics of dependence, whatever that means.

In other words, all the money is going to work out the consequences of a fairy tale. So much money for so much “sophisticated” philosophy!

So, to start with, we have to note that this is based on a theory of Ockham. Yes, that Ockham. He of the Razor. Which was invented, BTW, to prove a theological point. So first, this is at least potentially as much philosophy as theology — which is Coyne’s usual target, you’ll recall — and second let us now remember anytime anyone asks what theology gave science to remind them of Ockham’s Razor.

Now, Coyne’s summation of the point seems to be fairly decent; that’s about how I take it as well. But it’s much more complicated than Coyne admits. Let me expand on my guess on it a bit, without having read any of it (so at least Coyne and I are in good company): Ockham likely argued that if we have an omniscient being — God — then that God would know what we’re doing right now. But that could mean that God knows that and can know that because He determined it, which would violate free will. So, then, if it is not pre-determined then God’s belief about what we will do must be formed as we do it right now. But God has always known it, which would mean that our decisions now have an impact on beliefs formed in the past. If conceptually coherent, this has major implications for the conceptions of time and of dependence — ie what it means for one fact or truth or action to depend on another — both of which are currently of interest in philosophical circles.

So, that’s the translation of what Coyne calls “gobbledygook”. Now, does it depend on, as he puts it, “three completely unsupported premises”? Not if one understands philosophy, it doesn’t, because the question and the theory is philosophically interesting even if God does not exist. There’s a reason I talked about concepts above. If we have the concept of an omniscient being, we have the concept of something that clearly knows (okay, okay, that’s debatable, but grant it for now) everything that we will do before we do it. If it is conceptually consistent with our notions of time and dependence that any knowledge of that sort would involve the determination of a belief in the past by an action in the future, that would have very interesting consequences for the concepts of time and dependence, even if no such entity existed.

Now, Coyne can protest that he doesn’t care about concepts at all, or at least not unless they have applications in “the real world”, but there are two replies to this. The first is that he has no idea if these concepts will have applications in “the real world” anymore than he can say what portions of abstract mathematics will. The second is that while he may not care about concepts, philosophy does, and unless he wants to take away all funding to philosophy and give it to science — which, I’m afraid, would definitely be scientism — it seems odd to protest funding given for post-doc work that’s relevant to philosophy just because he doesn’t personally care about the results … or, rather, because it uses a concept that he doesn’t like.

So, if he understood philosophy at all, he’d have an idea what “philosophy of time” means for certain. “Metaphysics of dependence” is a bit harder. But in knowing, he’d know why philosophers care. But does not know, and yet somehow will still say. He really needs to take Zathras’ advice: Saying would mean knowing. Do not know, so will not say.

There are a ton of comments to the post that would make me tear my hair out in frustration if I had enough left to tear out:


Holy Freakin’ Moley! I’ve never read such bunkum!. Is he really saying that if I decide to have strawberry jam on my toast tomorrow morning, rather than, say, blackcurrant, that my decision changes god’s past belief about what I would choose?

I suspect even god(if he exists)’s head hurts thinking about that one! LOL!

Quite possibly, but more likely that our present choices determined the past event of that sort of belief formation. Neither option, however, makes my head hurt, even though I’d probably agree with Coyne and others — if they knew what they were saying, mind you — that this seems far too complicated and we’re probably better off either going for a simpler solution or even dropping the God concept before accepting this. Of course, I’d have to see how it all shakes out before making a final decision. Which, of course, stooshie seems unwilling to do.


According to Webster, belief is 1) An acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. 2) Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction.

But if god is omnipotent, then he doesn’t have to accept things as true, he would know they are true. Looking at it that way, Templeton is funding the undermining of god’s omnipotence.

Just like you don’t go to the dictionary for definitions of technical scientific terms, you don’t go to the dictionary for definitions of technical philosophical terms like “belief”, and you also don’t do that while not even bothering to look up any definition of “know”. See, in philosophy knowledge is “justified true belief”, so to know means to believe, and so this whole analysis falls apart at that point (we can ignore that it’s omniscience that’s relevant here, not omnipotentence as that’s likely just a simple error). And right after this, stooshie is back for another round:

And further, if god knows the truth rather than believes it then our actions, by definition, cannot change god’s mind.

We have just disproved his whole argument.

As long as the actual argument isn’t that that belief in the past was not determined by the actions in the present, which since this is linked to philosophy of time and metaphysics of dependence is not likely to be the case. Interesting how they claim to have disproved a complex philosophical argument based only on a small quote and quick summary of it. That’s like saying that man could not have evolved from apes because apes still exist is a devastating rebuttal to evolution; it works against some quick summations of it, but not against the actual theory.


Philosophy of Time means, “Given that physicists overwhelmingly endorse the B theory of time, which negates the Kalam argument by interfering with our notions of cause and effect at the boundary conditions of the universe, how can we make the Kalam argument work anyway?”

Because, obviously the philosophy of time is a) based on theology and not on independent considerations of time and b) is based on an attempt to justify the Kalam Cosmological Argument despite the fact that purely secular philosophers have talked about issues with time and things like time travel for a long time now, and before the Kalam argument came into vogue in Western philosophy.

Philosophy of time is, indeed, philosophy of time, no more, no less. Lumping it in with theology is a categorical error of the worst possible kind.


The fellowship is part of a larger Templeton project to bring the resources of analytical philosophy to theology and philosophy of religion,

Yes, by all means, let’s bring the quite formidable resources of analytical philosophy to bear upon all that stuff. Lol.

Well, why not? Analytic philosophy has given us science (the philosophical debate between empiricism and rationalism made science what it is), Ockham’s Razor (and thus parsimony), and the Problem of Evil, things that all atheists rely heavily on. Coyne’s discussions about science and faith being incompatible are, in fact, analytic philosophy. So, in fact, is the question over whether science can study morality. Sam Harris is doing analytic philosophy when he talks about morality. Hume did it, especially when discussing God. Russell’s Teapot is analytic philosophy, and he’s absolutely an analytic philosopher. So not only has analytic philosophy done good things, it’s also something that almost all atheists do and that many great minds have done in promoting atheism.

Now, 386sx may protest that I’ve misinterpreted the point, and that 386sx really wants analytic philosophy brought to bear on it so that it can refute those things. But the claim that analytic philosophy — and philosophy in general — is useless is common enough in these contexts that I’ll make a pre-apology to 386sx if I’ve misinterpreted the view in order to address this common and commonly mistaken viewpoint.


Except that, as every well-read reader of Science Fiction knows, there are a few fundamental things that could happen here. It could be a Predestination Loop – we can’t change God’s beliefs because whatever we do is what we were supposed to do to give him the beliefs that he already has, and if we try to do something different we’ll fail. Or it could be that our meddling with God’s beliefs manifests as a Many Worlds Scenario where the Trousers of Time branch off and some other universe has the God created by our meddling with his beliefs. I suggest that the post-doctoral student working on this brush up on his Heinlen, Piper, Bradbury, Anderson and Gerrold – among others – before embarking on this research.

Or, you know, he could just make sure he links it to philosophy of time, which has almost certainly discussed all of those concepts and more besides. Oh, wait, he has. Never mind, then …


This could have a place in a study of medieval history and thought, but it is a grotesque idea to take it seriously now–just as you might make a legitimate study of Osiris or Marduk in the context of ancient history, but you would hardly try to apply it to modern science.

I’m actually not sure what the point is here. Since philosophy is still harkening back to problems raised by Plato, “old” is not an issue here, not is its historical context. And she seems to be linking it to myths, but conceptual examinations can work quite well and get interesting progress even when dealing with things that are not real. There just doesn’t seem to be an actual point here, unless it’s terribly mistaken.

stooshie again (glutton for punishment, it seems):

To put it another way:

GOD: [crossing fingers] He’s gonna choose the strawberry jam, strawberry, strawberry, strawberry I tell you!

ME: That looks tasty. [Leans over, picks up blackurrant jam]

[WHOOSH! – some sound effects here, suggesting magical stuff going on]

GOD: [fingers still crossed] See?! I always said you were a blackurrant jam type of guy!

Which still presumes that God didn’t always have the belief that it would be blackcurrant jam. Which by definition He would, of course, which is what raises the whole problem in the first place.


Surely the idea of a god, a supreme being having such a human/animal thing as a mind, is crazy? What is god supposed to believe IN? Can this god have doubts? That makes it a very ungodly god.

Why would you think that a mind is a human/animal thing? Philosophy of mind certainly doesn’t think of it that way. And whether God has doubts or not means nothing about whether God has a mind, surely.

Tulse, in reply to the above comment:

I wouldn’t think that an omniscient and omnipotent god could have “beliefs”, just “knowledge”. The standard philosophical definition of knowledge is “justified true belief”, and certainly any belief that an omniscient and omnipotent being has will be justified and true. “Belief” implies uncertainty, and surely the Christian god can never be uncertain, right?

Tulse gets the philosophical definition of knowledge right, but sadly doesn’t know what it actually means. His argument here seems to be based on a parsing of that phrase itself — again, just like “Humans evolved from apes” — to conclude that once you justify a belief and that belief is true, it’s knowledge and no longer belief. The actual definition of the term is:

S knows that p iff:

S believes that p.
S is justified in believing that p.
p is true.

Thus, to know means to believe, as stated earlier. So God would have beliefs in the philosophical sense, but they’d all also be justified and true and so all of His beliefs would be knowledge. Belief without the other two criteria is doubtful or doubted, but it’s still belief even if you don’t doubt.

But, you know, I guess I should cut him some slack, since it’s too much to ask that he know the basic definition of knowledge in epistemology — you know, the field that actually studies it — before arguing based on that simple phrase, just like creationists don’t need to know what is meant by “Humans evolved from apes” before arguing that evolution is false.

Andrew B.:

“(What makes me laugh about these “Big Questions” is that they’re always being “addressed,” but never answered.)”

Oh yes, and it’s very important that they are NEVER ANSWERED. If they were, they would lose their MYSTERY, and we can’t have that.

Of course, philosophy tries very hard to answer the Big Questions, and the value for actually solving one is the same as it would be for any revolutionary scientific theory or result. The problem is that in philosophy all of the solutions so far have turned out to have actual rational problems with them. Thus, philosophers would love to solve the mysteries but are unable to actually do it. Which is the opposite of what Andrew B. actually asserted.

I’ll stop here, but I think I’ve proven my point that there’s a lot of talk here about philosophy, but not much actual philosophy either understood or being done. They’d protest — and do — if people from other fields did that to scientific ones, so why is it okay to exhibit such ignorance — and be proud of it, as Coyne is — about fields other than scientific ones?

28 Responses to “Coyne (and his commenters) don’t know Philosophy …”

  1. Two philosophers defend the indefensible; try unsuccessfully to pwn me and my readers « Why Evolution Is True Says:

    […] scientistic dismissivemenss of philosophy,” and he defends that student’s proposal. Verbose Stoic does the same in a similar post called “Coyne (and his commenters) don’t know […]

  2. Veronica Abbass Says:

    “has taken aim at a new post-doc funded by them”

    A corporation is a singular entity; therefore, the sentence should read, “has taken aim at a new post-doc funded by it.”

  3. Tacroy Says:

    “If conceptually coherent, this has major implications for the conceptions of time and of dependence — ie what it means for one fact or truth or action to depend on another — both of which are currently of interest in philosophical circles.”

    It’s not conceptually coherent, and that’s pretty much Coyne’s point. A universe in which an omniscient being exists alongside free will is equivalent to a universe in which an immovable object exists alongside an irresistible force. It just doesn’t work, because you are positing a universe in which two mutually contradictory things exist at the same time.

    And anyway, you never touched on why figuring this out even theoretically requires a $5,500 yearly travel budget and a salary of $80,000 – my wife, who is, admittedly, a graduate student and not a postgrad, makes less than half that. Why, pray tell, is this philosophy so expensive to do?

  4. Andrew B. Says:

    “Of course, philosophy tries very hard to answer the Big Questions, and the value for actually solving one is the same as it would be for any revolutionary scientific theory or result.”

    I wasn’t talking about philosophy but of theology and the mysteries I had in mind were the “mystery of the transubstantiation” or the “mystery of the trinity” and big questions like “why are we here?” and “what’s the purpose of the universe?” I suppose I was mistaken for conflating those meaningless topics and questions with what may be a useful, albeit expensive, thought-experiment.

  5. Jerry Coyne’s Scientistic Dismissiveness Of Philosophy | Camels With Hammers Says:

    […] Verbose Stoic explains why Coyne is missing the point. In short, it does not matter whether there actually is a God. There is still philosophical illumination from exploring the implications of a hypothetical omniscient knower for our understanding of things like the connections between belief, causation, and time. As the verbose one writes: Ockham likely argued that if we have an omniscient being — God — then that God would know what we’re doing right now. But that could mean that God knows that and can know that because He determined it, which would violate free will. So, then, if it is not pre-determined then God’s belief about what we will do must be formed as we do it right now. But God has always known it, which would mean that our decisions now have an impact on beliefs formed in the past. If conceptually coherent, this has major implications for the conceptions of time and of dependence — ie what it means for one fact or truth or action to depend on another — both of which are currently of interest in philosophical circles. […]

  6. verbosestoic Says:


    To claim that it isn’t conceptually coherent implies — at least in philosophy — that you can point out WHY it’s conceptually incoherent and defend that against attempts to show that it is, in fact, coherent. Simply saying that it’s obviously incoherent simply doesn’t work in philosophy, nor does a comparison to something that pretty much everyone thinks is conceptually incoherent. You have to demonstrate that.

    I don’t think, as I said, that this will work out in anything like a reasonable way, but I have to wait to see the final argument to say for certain.

    As for the money granted, I can’t say anything about that and have no interest in saying anything about that; I’m interested in defending philosophy, not academic endowments.

  7. verbosestoic Says:

    Andrew B.,

    For the last two questions, I do think that philosophy is interested in solving them and if a philosopher ever managed that it would be on a par, philosophically, with proving that something can exceed the speed of light.

    The first two aren’t that interesting for philosophy, I agree … but mostly because they’re more concrete than philosophy normally studies. What those things would mean if true is of interest, and if the specific events count as those sorts of things are, but proving that a specific case really happened is something that currently gets left to fields like science. Science is generally good at that sort of thing, so philosophy lets it do it and ponders the results later [grin].

  8. Mark Says:

    If your premise is uncertain (an omniscient god) – or worse, patently false (free will, by any meaningful definition in relation to omniscience, in particular being in conflict with it), then any truths you reach through philosophical reasoning are necessarily suspect. I don’t see how any conclusions could have any meaning to anyone whatsoever, if their truth can’t be evaluated.

    But that seems like a general problem with philosophy, to me (and a reason to enthusiastically embrace scientism!). When you philosophers DO find an answer to one of the Big Questions, how do you know that the answer is correct? How can it be verified? Can it be tested, or falsified with evidence?

    What questions, exactly, have actually been answered by philosophy? Can you name even one achievement of philosophy, outside of the philosophy of science? I’d request that you name something outside of ethics, as well, although as far as I’m concerned the advancement of ethics stopped when utilitarianism was invented.

  9. jonjermey Says:

    It’s really interesting to speculate on what kind of grass unicorns like to eat, and for $171,000 I would be happy to do it for two years, or even three. But would any sane person consider this a rational or moral way to spend that much money in a world as imperfect as this? Or are there REAL problems that money could be usefully spent on?

  10. verbosestoic Says:


    The problem is that we aren’t using those things as premises in the way you think. We aren’t saying “If such a being exists … ” in a way that makes our conclusions dependent on the actual existence of the thing, but are using it more as “If I can conceive of such a thing and have it be coherent … ” and then following on from that to see what that would mean for other concepts. So, at the end of the day, we get conceptual truths, ie truths about those concepts. And we do that by logical analysis and considerations about consistency. But at the end of the day, none of this will prove that the concepts either exist or really work that way in the “real world”. The hope is that at least, for example, for the question about dependence we might get people to move from saying that it’s simply absurd to think that events in the past can depend on events in the future and instead argue that it’s simply physically impossible for that to happen in this world. Which, then, science could try to study and prove or disprove.

    As for how we know, note that philosophy — unlike science much of the time — actually asks how we could come to know or verify it. We do not presume experiments nor do we eliminate them. One of the main questions for any philosophical question is ALWAYS “How would we know if we’ve answered it?”. Philosophy tends towards the strictly logical/deductive; if you can’t find errors in the logic and the premises at least are ones that pretty much must be accepted rationally then we’ve proven it. This, of course, is very, very hard to do for the “Big Questions”.

    Well, materialism about mind would be one; it’s origin is philosophy, not science. As well as empiricism itself, and the modified form of it from naive empiricism that science uses; again, this all started from philosophy, not science. For achievements, those count, no?

    As for ethics, if you think that it all stopped with Utilitarianism you really do need to read more moral philosophy. To start with, which form are you supporting? Bentham’s — the original one — was terrible, Mill’s involves simple stipulations about what actions are better morally than others (so that he can avoid Bentham’s problems about if someone really likes hurting other people there are cases where Utiltiarianism justifies it), all forms have issues with whether or not you can treat your loved ones better than other people who might be objectively more valuable, all forms allow for cases where you might be justified in deliberately killing hundreds to make millions slightly happier, and it turns out that Utilitarianism does not conform to our moral intuitions, which kills one of its main benefits in that intuitively we seem to agree with it. There’s a lot of work to be done beyond Utilitarianism.

  11. verbosestoic Says:


    You are presuming that because philosophy does not use your or Coyne’s standards that it has none. You may argue that that fact is interesting, but I’d counter that it is not PHILOSOPHICALLY interesting, while the Ockhan question is. Why? Because what sort of grass unicorns prefer has absolutely no real impact on any of our concepts; it’s not conceptually interesting since it doesn’t change or challenge or clarify our concepts about anything in any real way. But, as stated, the project does challenge our concepts of time and dependence in philosophically interesting ways.

    As I said, you can claim that you aren’t interested in it if it just applies to concepts, but since concepts are of I would say primary interest to philosophy that doesn’t make it philosophically uninteresting.

    And you really don’t want to get into discussions about whether pure intellectual work is valuable enough to get funding, since all academic fields — even science — are vulenrable at times to that sort of attack.

  12. Coyne Responds … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] The Verbose Stoic Rational, romantic, mystic, cynical idealist « Coyne (and his commenters) don’t know Philosophy … […]

  13. Mark Says:

    I still fail to see the point of such philosophy if it can’t show anything to be true, but only show them to be “absurd” (and only given the premises). I suppose there could be some hypothetical case where showing something to be “absurd” would be useful (perhaps you could supply an example of such, but I can’t think of any). But you sound as if we’ve gained something by *not* showing something to be absurd, given a set of premises.

    And what about materialism of mind, and empiricism? As far as I knew, neither of those concepts were *proven* to be true, and many philosophers still hold them to be highly questionable. So how are they “accomplishments” of philosophy? Because you guys thought of ’em first?

  14. verbosestoic Says:


    What’s your definition of “true”? And I pointed out the importance of “absurd”, in that if you discover it not to be conceptually absurd it becomes a physical problem — and so you have to experiment to investigate it before you can say that it doesn’t or can’t exist — and if you discover it to BE conceptually absurd you can ignore it until something comes along that suggests that we’re wrong about it being absurd.

    As for those, because philosophy THOUGHT OF THEM. You don’t get them without philosophy. Without empiricism and the rationalist/empiricist debate, no science. Without materialism of mind, no Cognitive Science.

    And add another one to the list: the definition of knowledge.

  15. Mark Says:

    So it seems to me , without science, philosophy is fairly useless (not considering ethics).

    Now, I’ve always maintained that scientists should be aware of the philosophical roots of the scientific method, and the philosophical problems that arise in those regards, such as the problem of induction. I still hold that to be important, but it can’t be denied that many scientists are quite capable of being highly successful without knowing much philosophy.

    And I also maintain that all the best philosophers are also scientists.

  16. verbosestoic Says:


    I think you need to make clear what standard you’re using to define “useful”. I think that philosophy can be very useful since I think conceptual analysis is useful, and science actually requires that at times. But I fail to see how you can call philosophy without science useless without also, say, declaring mathematics without science useless. At which point, you might as well just say that you find anything other than science to be useless, which isn’t a particularly reasonable or justified assertion.

    I would not deny that scientists are capable of doing science without knowing philosophy, but would also submit that philosophers and mathematicians and literature theorists are capable of doing their fields without knowing much science.

    I also don’t know why you’d say that about the best philosophers. I agree that good philosophy doesn’t ignore science, but it also has to know when the assumptions and methods of science are more of a hindrance than a help.

  17. Mark Says:

    Science can point at the results of modern technology, and the expanded understanding we share of the universe and our origins, and the improved health of modern people to demonstrate its usefulness.

    Math can point to the cases where science relies upon obscure advances in math to demonstrate its usefulness. (And yes, I think that math is useless without science – with the possible exception of economics.)

    What can philosophy point to? Empiricism? Materialism of mind? Science could probably advance just fine without philosophers having come up with those concepts. Maybe it would have advanced more slowly without philosophers, but I’m not convinced of that. And it seems that though the advancement of science is ever accelerating, the contributions of philosophy are only growing fewer and further between. I don’t know of much interaction between philosophy and science since the days of Thomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos.

  18. verbosestoic Says:

    And philosophy can point at SCIENCE. But, again, you are defining useful only in terms of what benefits directly accrue to you in the world, and specifically what you can see mostly immediately. Neither mathematics nor philosophy think that that’s the only sort of useful knowledge we have or can have. So why are you limiting use to those pragmatic of situations? Is knowing itself not useful?

    And could we get all the benefits of science from philosophy, albeit perhaps a bit slower? Well, since science came from natural philosophy, that seems far more likely and obvious than the claim that science would get somewhere — or even exist — without empiricism and rationalism.

    And if you think that mathematics and philosophy are useful if they don’t have benefit to science, then you absolutely conform to scientism and you should very much expect all non-scientific fields to react badly to that stance unless you can justify it, at which point I’ll happily accuse you of doing philosophy and weakening your own point.

    As for the interaction between philosophy and science, you seem blissfully unaware of the whole interdisciplinary field of “Cognitive Science” as well as the link between ruminations like Hawking’s on “Something coming from nothing” and philosophical work on the same area. I’d argue that Hawking’s biggest mistake was trying to solve the philosophical problems with that without understanding what was meant by “nothing” in those problems.

  19. Mark Says:

    If philosophy is only useful to philosophers, then philosophers should find their own support – and not receive $160,000 “research” grants that would be a million times more useful going toward basic or applied science.

    We tried getting the benefits of science from philosophy once – it was called Ancient Greece. They believed that all worthwhile knowledge could be learned by sitting down and thinking real hard. And the intellectuals of Europe were so infatuated with what they had to say that for a thousand years there was virtually no progress in society. Not until some people decided that maybe they COULD learn something from observations and tests in the real world. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to believe them at first, and some of them got shut in their homes by the Church for their scientism.

    Yes, I adhere to scientism, and I’m proud of it.

  20. verbosestoic Says:

    So what makes you think that the Templeton Foundation “support” is not support for philosophers finding their own support? What sources do you think acceptable for philosophers and other non-scientific fields — like mathematics — to us so that they aren’t taking money away from poor, impoverished, underfunded applied science?

    As for the philosophy of Ancient Greece, what makes you think that philosophy is limited to armchair reasoning? Again, it was philosophical discussion that led to people thinking that you could only get knoweldge by going out and looking at it — that’s that “empiricism” thing that you keep denigrating — and determining that, in a real sense, you couldn’t JUST do that. Those people you claim were following scientism were PHILOSOPHERS, doing PHILOSOPHY. Science came later.

    Now you want to cast off the actual history of your science and ignore all of its recommendations so that you can free yourself of all its potential benefits. I don’t see why that sort of intellectual closedmindedness should be something to be proud of, personally.

  21. Mark Says:

    I already told you that I understand and respect the philosophical roots of the scientific method, and I hope that we keep educating people about it. But beyond that, I don’t see a point to philosophy, and I suspect that philosophy has already contributed all it’s ever going to to science.

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    […] Coyne yesterday posted a Sunday Free Will post, using a comment by Jeff Johnson as a backdrop. I’ve talked before about how some people don’t really know the philosophy they’re … and the comment seems like not only a good example of that, but of the importance of making modest […]

  28. Coyne Gets Philosophical … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] he says Alvin Plantinga makes. Considering that at one point I argued that he and his commenters didn’t know philosophy, and considering that his comments on free will have often made what I’d consider basic […]

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