Physics or Philosophy?

That’s weird, I would definitely go the other way. I rarely (if ever,) encounter a philosopher wanting to set up an experiment, but physicists seem to want to do plenty of philosophy.

For instance, the multiverse and interpretations of quantum mechanics are good examples where physicists often lean into philosophy rather than relying on empirical science.


That is not philosophy, but hypothesis generation. That they are not yet empirically testable does not mean they are not testable in principle, nor that they never will be testable. Theoretical physicists generate models, and the experimental physicists try figure out ways to test them. While the job is divided between two groups of workers, the job itself remains scientific.

To be human is to do philosophy – in the broad sense in which you appear to be using the term.

Most physicists don’t seem to do much philosophy in the narrower sense (as that which academic philosophers do).

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And yet this sounds a lot like what ID proponents say about the design hypothesis. It may also start to sounds like pseudoscience (not meant as a pejorative, just descriptive) if the distance between the hypothesis and the testability continues.

Yes, but when the theorists press on without experiments in sight, it can lead to moving towards philosophy, in my opinion. I’m not saying they shouldn’t press forward, but I think it does mean they need to be a bit more cautious about they way the present work to the public at least. It is tempting to leverage experimental and scientific expertise into a “trust me” on things that stretch the idea of being a product of science rather than philosophical musings.

I would agree with both statements. My point was not to say that physicists are wrong or shouldn’t keep after those most intriguing questions. My point is that science begins to lose credibility when theorists get too far ahead of experimentalists. I think to the extent that we can’t even envision an experiment that would distinguish between two completely different hypotheses, I think we leave the scientific and are instead in the philosophical. What I see as problematic is when we don’t acknowledge that transition and act as if it’s all just “science”. When we favor the Copenhagen interpretation of QM because “that’s the way I was taught” or the Multi-worlds interpretation because “I like the idea of a deterministic universe better”, it seems to me we’ve left science.


Some critics have suggested that this applies to some parts of physics. I’m inclined to suspect that those critics might be right.

Only very superficially, because no one promoting a “design hypothesis” is even trying to advance an actual, empirically testable, scientific hypothesis. Despite that, there are an infinite number of ID hypotheses that can be tested empirically.

The experimental ID proponents don’t exist like the experimental physicists do.

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It seems more than superficial to my eye, but you raise a very good point.

The main difference is that the ID Creationists claim that their “hypothesis” has been confirmed by experimental evidence, when the opposite is the case.

Also, they lie about the fact that their “hypothesis” is really a religious apologetic.