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January 15, 2017

The new year saw me telling the readers of Australasian Science magazine about the talk I gave at the 2016 Australian Skeptics National Convention. A small blow to the spreading of science information in Australia was that the magazine went from ten issues a year to six. The other Australian science magazine, Cosmos, went from six to four. This is not a good thing.

Is philosophy dead?

Smart people have recently talked about the uselessness of philosophy with regard to science. Yes, science grew out of philosophy, but the claims now are that science has outgrown philosophy completely and it has no relevance at all. An example is a recent video made by Bill Nye in which he responded to a student asking him "Is philosophy meaningless?".

The problem with his comments was not that they were just wrong about philosophy, they were fractally wrong. They were wrong at almost any level of examination. The problem was that Bill didn't know what he was talking about. His concept of philosophy was extremely naÔve.

I really want to talk about the error that people like Bill Nye have made when criticising philosophy. It is an error which we constantly accuse our opponents of doing. It's going into debate or battle without knowing what it is you are really arguing against.

I think the worst logical fallacy is the use of strawman arguments. There is no way to recover from attacking something that your opponent has either never said or doesn't believe or which totally misrepresents their position.

You can read the rest here.


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