Last year, I was invited to give the Friday afternoon colloquium talk at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab. Given the prestigious history of this colloquium, it was a great honor (past speakers include Nobel laureattes in physics). And, as far as I know, it was the first time APL has ever invited someone to speak about philosophy of science.
My talk was titled “Do Scientists Need Philosophy?” It was attended by more than two hundred scientists, and I received a very positive response. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.
Of course, most scientists are skeptical about the value of philosophy. I began by agreeing with that skepticism, rather than fighting it. I offered two arguments for the view that philosophy is just a lot of hot air that scientists should ignore. Then I pointed out the weaknesses in those arguments, discussed what philosophy really is and why it is indispensible to scientists.
I’ll be posting a few excerpts from the lecture.