Portal:Philosophy of science/Selected article

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Portal:Philosophy of science/Selected article/1 Philosophy of physics is the study of the fundamental, philosophical questions underlying modern physics, the study of matter and energy and how they interact. The main questions concern the nature of space and time, atoms and atomism. Also the predictions of cosmology, the interpretation of the results of quantum mechanics, the foundations of statistical mechanics, causality, determinism, and the nature of physical laws. Classically, several of these questions were studied as part of metaphysics (for example, those about causality, determinism, and space and time). Today, the philosophy of physics is very close to the philosophy of science, and is the most active subtopic within it.

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According to Plato, Knowledge is what is both true and believed, though not all that is both true and believed counts as knowledge.

Epistemology or theory of knowledge is the branch of Western philosophy that studies the nature and scope of knowledge. The term "epistemology" is based on the Greek words "ἐπιστήμη or episteme" (knowledge) and "λόγος or logos" (account/explanation); it is thought to have been coined by the Scottish philosopher James Frederick Ferrier. In Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, the Sanskrit term for the equivalent branch of study is "pramana."

Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims. In other words, epistemology primarily addresses the following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people know?".

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Syntactic-semantic trees

Philosophy of language is the branch of philosophy whose primary concerns include the natures of meaning, reference, truth, language learning, language creation, understanding, communication, interpretation, and translation.

The discipline is concerned with five central questions: How are sentences composed into a meaningful whole, and what are the meanings of the parts of sentences? What is the nature of meaning? (i.e., What exactly is a meaning?) What do we do with language? (How do we use it socially?) How does language relate to the mind, both of the speaker and the interpreter? Finally, how does language relate to the world?

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Portal:Philosophy of science/Selected article/4 Objectivity, as a method of philosophy, is dependent upon the presupposition distinguishing references in the field of epistemology regarding the ontological status of a possible objective reality, and the state of being objective in regard to references towards whatever is considered as objective reality. In other words, what is real and how do we know what we infer about the real is true. Inherent to the distinction is a paradoxical notion that despite the various meanings or definitions assigned to the concept by various disciplines, schools of thought, or individual philosophers, ultimately there is a body of knowledge referred to which is considered representative of a single reality.

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A white swan
Two black swans

In science and the philosophy of science, falsifiability refers to the property of empirical statements that they must admit of logical counterexamples. This stands in contradistinction to formal and mathematical statements that may be tautologies, that is, universally true by dint of definitions, axioms, and proofs. Some philosophers and scientists, most notably Karl Popper, have asserted that no empirical hypothesis, proposition, or theory can be considered scientific if it does not admit the possibility of a contrary case.

For example, the proposition "all swans are white" would be falsified by observing a black swan, which would in turn depend on there being a black swan somewhere in existence. A falsifiable proposition or theory must define in some way what is, or will be, forbidden by that proposition or theory.

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Cristiano Banti's 1857 painting Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition

The so-called Galileo affair, in which Galileo Galilei came into conflict with the Catholic Church over his support of Copernican astronomy, is often considered a defining moment in the history of the relationship between religion and science.

In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with the new telescope. These and other discoveries exposed major difficulties with the understanding of the heavens that had been held since antiquity, and raised new interest in radical teachings such as the heliocentric theory of Copernicus. In reaction, many maintained that the motion of the Earth and immobility of the Sun were heretical, as they contradicted some accounts given in the Bible as understood at that time. Galileo's part in the controversies over theology, astronomy and philosophy culminated in his trial and sentencing in 1633 on a grave suspicion of heresy.

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Moritz Schlick around 1930

The Vienna Circle (in German: der Wiener Kreis) was a group of philosophers who gathered around Moritz Schlick when he was called to the Vienna University in 1922, organized in a philosophical association named Verein Ernst Mach (Ernst Mach Society). Among its members were Moritz Schlick, chairman of the Ernst Mach Society, Gustav Bergmann, Rudolf Carnap, Herbert Feigl, Kurt Gödel, and Otto Neurath.

With the exception of Gödel, members of the Vienna Circle had a common attitude towards philosophy, characterized by two main beliefs: first, experience is the only source of knowledge; second, logical analysis performed with the help of symbolic logic is the preferred method for solving philosophical problems.

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A simplified taxonomy of the most important philosophical positions regarding free will.

The problem of free will is the problem of whether rational agents exercise control over their own actions and decisions. Addressing this problem requires understanding the relation between freedom and causation, and determining whether or not the laws of nature are causally deterministic. The various philosophical positions taken differ on whether all events are determined or not—determinism versus indeterminism—and also on whether freedom can coexist with determinism or not—compatibilism versus incompatibilism. So, for instance, hard determinists argue that the universe is deterministic, and that this makes free will impossible.

In the scientific realm, the principle of free will may imply that the actions of the body, including the brain and the mind, are not wholly determined by physical causality.

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Phrenology is regarded today as a classic example of pseudoscience.

Pseudoscience is any body of knowledge, methodology, belief, or practice that claims to be scientific but does not follow the scientific method. Pseudosciences may appear scientific, but they do not adhere to the scientific method's falsifiability requirement. There is no bright line between science and pseudo-science, and at times many of the most successful theories have been called unscientific. For example, Copernican physicists had no data to support their theories for centuries, while the Aristotleans had all empiricism on their side.

After over a century of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in varied fields, and despite broad agreement on the basics of scientific method, the boundaries between science and non-science continue to be debated. This is known as the demarcation problem.

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Billiard balls

Determinism is the philosophical proposition that every event, including human cognition and action, is causally determined by an unbroken chain of prior occurrences. No wholly random, spontaneous, mysterious, or miraculous events occur, according to this philosophy.

The idea that the entire universe is a deterministic system has been articulated in both Western and non-Western religion, philosophy, and literature. Determinism in the West is often associated with Newtonian physics, which depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a set of fixed, knowable laws. The "billiard ball" hypothesis, a product of Newtonian physics, argues that once the initial conditions of the universe have been established the rest of the history of the universe follows inevitably.

The concept of determinism is extensively used in chaos theory, used to predict the results of seemingly-random events such as rolling a die. However, determinism is a classical concept and cannot be used in new contextual frameworks such as in quantum mechanics. Determinism presupposes the Cartesian partition that quantum mechanics does not encompass

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Nominations[edit]

Feel free to add featured, top or high importance philosophy of science articles to the above list. Other philosophy of science-related articles may be nominated here.