Stephen Hawking claimed that “philosophy is dead” in his book “The Grand Design: New Answers to the Ultimate Questions of Life”, arguing that philosophy is no longer relevant.
Popular physicist Lawrence Krauss, displaying his ignorance of philosophy, said: “I don’t believe anything. Belief is not a word used by scientists, ”which can be seen in the video“ William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss – Life, the Universe and Nothing ”.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to have similar opinions to Hawking. Even more, a lot of people like Krauss just don’t know what philosophers do or why they are important. This scientific view of the world led Krauss to sincerely believe the claim that he has no belief.
Fortunately, Hawking and Krauss are wrong – very wrong, in fact. Each of us uses aspects of philosophy both in our studies and in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not.
We need philosophy to make valid inferences and analyze arguments. Suppose your friend thinks that all humans have an intangible soul, but she also thinks that knowledge of the world can only come from science. Once you point out that souls are outside of the study of science (since science studies the material world and souls are immaterial), it needs to let go of one of the beliefs: immaterial souls don’t don’t they exist? Or can we get knowledge from something other than science? These questions fall within the realm of logic.
Then we can talk about when we should believe certain statements, because we certainly cannot believe something for no reason. If I told you that I think vaccines cause harmful side effects but give no proof, no reason, you would say that I am doing something wrong. Likewise, whenever we do science, we need to understand which data sets support a particular claim. We don’t want to accidentally come to the wrong conclusion given our hard-earned research. This field is called epistemology and is the theory of knowledge.
Now consider your take on abortion, gun laws, or taxation, because you probably have a firm conviction on at least one of them. Both sides cannot be right about a particular problem: it cannot be that the abortion is right or wrong. So, who is right ? Moral philosophy is the only discipline that will give you an answer.
You can appeal to the mother’s interest in bodily autonomy or the fetus’ right to life, but only one answer can be correct. Moral and political philosophy is especially important because many beliefs you hold dear are moral and political beliefs. This study is called value theory (which also includes artistic beliefs).
And there are many, many more questions to ask in philosophy. What is the genre? Does God exist? Does the universe have a beginning? Ask a metaphysician. Is scientific knowledge objective? Do the laws of nature exist? Does the evidence ever support our theories (or do we just disprove them)? Ask a philosopher of science.
Read a little philosophy! It’s more important than you might think.
Ian Palacios is a young student of English and Philosophy. He can be reached at 581-2812 or impalacios.edu.