[ExI] Why Physics Needs Philosophy

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Wed Mar 30 18:35:45 UTC 2016

On 2016-03-30 17:54, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> Anders: (Want to design a good neuroimaging experiment for some 
> "higher" function like consciousness, moral behavior or suffering? Get 
> a philosopher into the experiment design team - neuroscientists often 
> tend to have too simplistic models of what an experiment can tell 
> about the mind.)
> Hey! What about psychologists??

Psychologists are typically theory-driven, while the philosopher in the 
team is more likely to be a gadfly pointing out if the model is 
unfalsifiable, vacuous, or otherwise no good. They usually have less 
stake in a particular outcome being true, and care more about the 
experiment being logically consistent.

> What do philosophers know about the mind other than what they can 
> dream up?  Experimental philosophy, my jackass.  That's called 
> psychology!!

Yup. The parts of the philosophy of mind that got their act together 
moved out and became respectable. Just like the natural sciences, 
economics, sociology, history, and many other departments. The remaining 
mess is philosophy.

But I did not claim *all* philosophers are useful for experiment design.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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