Neil deGrasse Tyson and the value of philosophy

Massimo Pigliucci in Scientia Salon:

ScreenHunter_624 May. 14 16.41It seems like my friend Neil deGrasse Tyson [1] has done it again: he has dismissed philosophy as a useless enterprise, and actually advised bright students to stay away from it. It is not the first time Neil has done this sort of thing, and he is far from being the only scientist to do so. But in his case the offense is particularly egregious, for two reasons: first, because he is a highly visible science communicator; second, because I told him not to, several times.

Let’s start with the latest episode, work our way back to a few others of the same kind (to establish that this is a pattern, not an unfortunate fluke), and then carefully tackle exactly where Neil and a number of his colleagues go wrong. But before any of that, let me try to halt the obvious objection to this entire essay in its tracks: no, this isn’t about defending “my” turf, for the simple reason that both philosophy and science are my turf [2]. I have practiced both disciplines as a scholar/researcher, I have taught introductory and graduate level classes in both fields, and I have written books about them both. So, while what follows inevitably will unfold as a defense of philosophy (yet again! [3]), it is a principled defense, not a petty one, and it most certainly doesn’t come from any kind of science envy.

More here.

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