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#10999 - 02/02/06 03:03 PM Hempel's Dilema
Senior Member

Registered: 08/21/05
Posts: 127
Loc: does it really matter?
As taken from Wikepedia, "Hempel's Dilemma is a question first asked by the philosopher Carl Hempel. It has relevance to naturalism and physicalism in philosophy, and to philosophy of mind.

Naturalism, in at least one rough sense, is the claim that the entire world may be described and explained using the laws of nature, in other words, that all phenomena are natural phenomena. This leaves open the question of what is 'natural', but one common understanding of the claim is that everything in the world is ultimately explicable in the terms of physics. This is physicalism.

However, physicalism in its turn leaves open the question of what we are to consider as the PROPER TERMS OF PHYSICS. There seem to be two options here, and these options form the horns of Hempel's dilemma, because neither seems satisfactory.

On the one hand, if we take physics to be our current physics, then the claim of physicalism is clearly false, at least to the extent that physics today does not explain everything and very few people would claim that it gives us the whole truth. On the other hand, if we say that some future, 'ideal' physics is what is meant, then the claim is rather empty, for we do not know what it means. In effect, physicalism by this second account becomes the circular claim that all phemenona are explicable in terms of physics because physics properly defined is whatever explains all phenomena."

If we are to assume that yesterday's (no not LITERALLY yesterday, DA) physics is bunk, relative to TODAY, then how does today's knowledge stand up to future "enlightenment"? Are physicists of today trying to do the best they can with the tools they have; while waiting for some future promise of clarity?

This is a most sweeping statement in order to demonstrate that science is a fluid construct which adapts to the times and to the current acumen of: now.

My point is, for example: we can study, for our entire lives, one thing and can we truly understand it? Sure one might be more "knowledgeable" in this specialized study...but what will future generations say about the science of today? Is this the best we can do?

Assuming that NOW is the most technologically advanced age, in human existence, then why is it not good enough? How long will it take to have flying cars, which run on anti-gravity; how much longer before we "cure" cancer etc..?

There was a topic, something along the lines of ~ Has science failed humanity?; well yes and no.

Is science, in its current state, competent enough for future scrutiny? Because evidentally yesterday's is not sufficient anymore...

"My God, it's full of stars!" -2010

#11000 - 02/02/06 07:29 PM Re: Hempel's Dilema
jjw Offline

Registered: 09/07/05
Posts: 636
Loc: USA
Hi Mung:
You question:
?Is science, in its current state, competent enough for future scrutiny? Because evidentally yesterday's is not sufficient anymore??

Rep: I am not a scientist but I have one small point on this issue. History shows that scientists are inclined to put unresolved questions on the back burner, so to speak. They want to move to bigger and better stuff to discover. Those unresolved items may actually contain many of the answers to the larger questions they seek to answer. If the history of scientific open minded attitude is to be the example of the future then I suggest the answer to you question is that it is not ?competent enough?.

Please understand this is a layman?s view and it is unsupported academically.

#11001 - 02/02/06 09:32 PM Re: Hempel's Dilema
DA Morgan Offline

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Mung ... jjw004 ... this is all so much nonsense.

First with respect to Hempel this is smoke and mirrors. Take out the made up words and try to restate the issue in straight-forward English.

The universe either conforms with the laws of physics and math or it does not. If it doesn't then objective reality does not exist. Throw a deck of cards in the air and it will fall to the ground sorted by suit. Drop an egg on the floor and it will jump back up onto the counter and reassemble itself. The only thing missing from my description is the magician, god, or tooth fairy that waves the magic wand.

jjw004 ... Scientists are not inclined to put unresolved questions on the back burner. They are incline to move off the table those questions that they do not have sufficient tools or knowledge to answer more fully at the present time. It has nothing to do with bigger and better.

When the tools are developed ... the tools are applied to achieving an answer. The other issue, of course, is funding. Grad students are, by definition, broke and living out off the charity of others. If government and industry would fund all possible research far more things could be addressed.

And this is the view of at one academic.
DA Morgan

#11002 - 02/03/06 09:57 PM Re: Hempel's Dilema
Senior Member

Registered: 08/21/05
Posts: 127
Loc: does it really matter?
Thank you JJWOO4 and DAMorgan for your replies. Upon further reflection my post seemed like and editorial, lol. When I came upon "Hempel's Dilema"; I thought about what science means today. DA, are things so black and white? If this is the case then why is there so much that we do not understand? If the laws of physics are constant (no matter what century we live in) then why do we keep re-interpreting them?
I know that you seek to refine problems to their absolute basic core; stripping away all layers of nonsense and hypotheticals.
I suppose that what I am asking is, "Is science good enough"? Are we satisfied with what we know.. Does it matter a damn what you or I think to be true if in 500 years we are perceived to be delusional? LOL.
I really do wish that things were so clear; that our acumen was keen and our understanding- penetrating. How do you respond to the fact that science is self-correcting..if one believes that pure logic, alone, gives enlightenment?

"My God, it's full of stars!" -2010

#11003 - 02/04/06 01:04 AM Re: Hempel's Dilema
Rusty Rockets Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/04/05
Posts: 175
What laws of physics are you referring to when you say that physicists(?) keep "re-interpreting" them?

Science is cumulative. Of course if you look backward now is, generally speaking, going to be the most up-to-date scientifically. I don't understand what you are trying to say, Mung.

I don't think that an "ideal," perfect science, or perfect knowledge of everything will eventuate any time soon, if at all. We do have the most ideal method for making scientific discoveries, however. These methods may be improved, or modified (getting the right scientific tools for the job, say), but acquiring knowledge cannot be made to go any faster (unless you're talking about science funding, but I have a feeling you're not). Observing and understanding our environment can only go as fast as it can, using the laws and tools that scientists have at their disposal. You seem to be suggesting some kind of bizarre spontaneous knowledge acquisition. And not only that, but a knowledge that will transcend all future generations of human thinking.

Your point about flying cars illustrates this point. Why haven't we invented flying cars or a cure for cancer? Because nobody has invented them yet. I don't see the mystery in this. But, Mung, asking these questions is also confusing technological advancement, the application of science, with science laws.

Science in its entirety is what we use to enquire and make sense of our environment, and it seems to have been working just fine, so far. What do you suggest as an alternative method for discovering the natural world?

#11004 - 02/04/06 10:01 AM Re: Hempel's Dilema

"REP: Physics as known today may not be able to cover the entire spectrum of Knowledge.It relies heavily on Maths. Maths is a different branch."

"REP: It means going beyond usual Maths... and integrating other senses and concepts of Human Thought. Namely Duality in the nature of Universe itself."

"REP: As i said Physics has to grow beyond its defintion of Observer and Observed."

"REP: Clarity is available if are ready to change some of our core beliefs."

"REP: Yes as I said we live different truths at different times."

"REP; They will say we moved from drakness to enlightment.

"REP: Flying Cars ... is ok..
But Anti-Gravity is misnomer. As Uncle AI has said Universe is Gravitational.There is an Anti-Gravitational concept as well.. which I have explained elsewhere.
Trains already run on "Anti-Gravity""

"REP:Before even we can claim to say whether it has failed or not, we need to know what does it stand for ?

"Is science, in its current state, competent enough for future scrutiny? Because evidentally yesterday's is not sufficient anymore...
REP: No.It is not competent. Because the next invovles a drastic shift from Knowledge Collection to Knowledge Discovery...
Currently it is like asking rivers to give you the benefit of Ocean.Which it cant no matter how big the Dam is."

Where in all of this "new-age" touchy feely stuff is there anything relevant to the topic under discussion, which was Hempel's Dilemma? You are so off topic it isn't even the least bit funny. This kind of scavenging is not welcome here.

#11005 - 02/06/06 04:44 AM Re: Hempel's Dilema
DA Morgan Offline

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 4136
Loc: Seattle, WA
Mung asks:
"DA, are things so black and white? If this is the case then why is there so much that we do not understand?"

Black and white does not imply simple. The progress of science is based upon a combination of theory and experiment. Theory leads to experiment to verify it. And experiments with unexplained results lead to new theories that again need to be tested. It is a circle spiraling in on the truth.

Give me infinite lab resources and I will test any theory. Give me infinite intelligence and will design the laboratory. I have neither.
DA Morgan


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