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The More You Want To Say, The Harder It Is To Say It

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Posted by Harvey on September 20, 2002 16:27:20 UTC

Aurino,

As my title suggests, philosophers usually are in the position of wanting to say more in their answers than the philosophical issues that scientists tend to deal with. For example, string theorists aren't so much concerned on what strings are, they are more concerned with philosophical implications of strings that might impinge upon string theory. Such as, a string theorist might be heavily concerned with the philosophy of Matrix theory (M-theory). Here is such an example that took me 10 seconds to find:

http://xxx.lanl.gov/abs/hep-th/9801182

The more that you want to say, the more general your theories must be. The danger is that it is that much more difficult to show that you are right. There is some necessity in performing this exercise because general views have a way of guiding us in a general manner. For example, reductionism is a broad philosophical program with a great deal of disagreement and debate, but who could deny the success that this program has brought to the world of physics. I agree, though, that sometimes it is better to back off a little from a great deal of metaphysics when we are hopelessly mired in a quagmire of issues. What I think most philosophers try to do is work with issues that they see 'progress'. Progress is a key attribute for philosophers because this is how they advance in their careers. You don't get recognized for introducing Plato's ideas anymore.

As long as there is progress, I think philosophical inquiry in any field is justified.

Warm regards, Harv

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