Recently I posted a lot here about Laurence Krauss and his denial of philosophy. I’m not the only one to have done so, and as a result, someone from camp philosophy has decided to defend Krauss. In a message to Brian Leiter, Justin Fisher who is a philosopher of mind, cognitive science and science at Southern Methodist University, defends Krauss and his book.
Here is part of the message:
Having read and enjoyed Krauss’ book, I was shocked by the poor scholarship of Albert’s review. Albert doesn’t exactly judge the book by its cover, more by its subtitle and by Dawkins’ hyperbolic afterword (from which Albert draws the longest quote of his review). Instead, Albert should have considered Krauss’ own stated goals in the book, and acknowledged how well Krauss accomplishes these goals. The book makes extremely difficult science downright enjoyable for a lay audience, and it clearly distinguishes the different senses of ‘nothing’ upon which we can or can’t (now, or perhaps even ever) understand how something could come out of nothing. The vast bulk of the book is good quality popularization of science, and the parts that are more philosophical are generally clear and modest, but you’d get no inkling of any of this from Albert’s review.
Leiter linked to this great post on NPR earlier. Adam Frank, who is an astrophysicist at the University of Rochester, writes about the origin of the feud between philosophers and physicists, and the reasons for why the physicist denial of philosophy is a mistake.
Here is my favourite bit from the essay:
Carbon-nanotube physicists are so deep within the traditional modes of empirical (i.e., data-driven) scientific investigation that they can happily ignore what goes on in the halls of philosophy. But as Krauss’ example shows, cosmologists can push so hard and so far at the boundaries of fundamental concepts they cross over and fall prey to their own unspoken philosophical biases and misconceptions.