Whether we scientists are inspired, bored, or infuriated by philosophy, all our theorising and experimentation depends on particular philosophical background assumptions. This hidden influence is an acute embarrassment to many researchers, and it is therefore not often acknowledged. Such fundamental notions as reality, space, time and causality – notions found at the core of the scientific enterprise – all rely on particular metaphysical assumptions about the world. 1
Modern science needs philosophy
With this backdrop, a growing number of scientists are calling for head-to-head interactions with philosophers. In a recent New Scientist article, cosmologist Joseph Silk reviews these and other issues now faced by the field, and then notes that such problems, probing the meaning of our very existence, are closely akin to those that have been debated by philosophers through the ages. Thus perhaps a new dialogue between science and philosophy can bring some badly needed insights into physics and other leading-edge fields such as neurobiology.
Biological evolution has not brought us the slightest understanding of how the first living organisms emerged from inanimate matter on this planet and how the advanced eukaryotic cells—the highly structured building blocks of advanced life forms—ever emerged from simpler organisms. 2