Category Archives: Popular Science

Thoughts on Physicists Versus Philosophers

In her opinion article “Physicists Versus Philosophers” (in The Philosophers Magazine Issue 58, 3rd Quarter 2012), Ophelia Benson presents a short, but interesting, account of friction between philosophers and physicists.  I was a bit bothered by a number of elements presented in the article, and provoked to sympathy for the physicists, by way of reflection.  “Sympathy,” not because I side with the comments of physicists, like “‘The only people, as far as I can tell, that read works by philosophers of science are other philosophers of science’”; but because of all of the changes in tides and shifts in power away from physics.  It really is a tumultuous time in academia.  Take a second to consider it.  Many (maybe most?) scientists and philosophers no longer believe in ontological reduction down to the level of physics.  Continue reading

Advertisements

1 Comment

October 19, 2012 · 5:53 am

A Problem with Popular Physics/Science Books: The Problem of Authorship

It should be common knowledge that it isn’t wise to accept, without air of caution, someone’s opinion on a matter as absolute fact, if that person is not an expert in the given field.  Consider popular physics, for the moment.  What field is it that a physicist (or, as will be the case in the blog post, a mathematician) is expert of?  That’s one question.  Another is: What does the composition of works in popular physics entail?  If the answer to the former is not the answer to the latter, then there is something wrong.  I believe something is. Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Literature, Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, Physics, Popular Science

The Impossibility of Precisely Measuring Positions of Particles in Quantum Physics

I am not going to go too hard on him, James S. Trefil, because he is such a fine author and I enjoy his work; but I must address an error that this physicist makes in one of his books, From Atoms to Quarks: An Introduction to the Strange World of Particle Physics (1980).  (See my review of the book by clicking on this sentence.)  I have chosen Trefil’s error for discussion, because he is a fine physicist, which makes for a good mark in proving a point, namely, that physics needs philosophy of physics to mind a number of problems that are not central to advancement of the science.  These problems include the kind of conceptual one that will be mentioned —one that I hope other physicists do not err on— and conceptual problems in foundations, metaphysics, and so forth. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy, Philosophy of Physics, Physics, Popular Science

On the Progress of Curing and Preventing Cancer: The Need for More Philosophy

This, my first blog post, is my submission for the Rhio O’Connor Essay Scholarship Competition. As mentioned in the “About David” section of this site, I am interested in the application of philosophy in all intellectual and scholarly disciplines, especially, when there is some additional scientific nuance. Such is the case in dealing with cancer theory and cancer research methodology. Unfortunately, due to length constraints, I could not go into nearly the particulars that I would have liked to, so my thoughts on topics like the application of the Quine-Duhem Thesis on pharmaceutical research must be left aside for another paper. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Philosophy of Science, Popular Science