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Neil deGrasse Tyson, and the usefulness (or not) of philosophy

abou-tyson2Neil deGrasse Tyson hasĀ provoked some debate on the value of philosophy and its role in relation to science, following comments that he made on theĀ Nerdist podcast in March this year. He’s not the first scientist to question the value of philosophy, and the most recent high-profile case was Lawrence Krauss, who (in a 2012 interview) said:

Philosophy used to be a field that had content, but then “natural philosophy” became physics, and physics has only continued to make inroads. Every time there’s a leap in physics, it encroaches on these areas that philosophers have carefully sequestered away to themselves, and so then you have this natural resentment on the part of philosophers.

In short, he’s saying that the space remaining in which philosophy might make an important contribution to physics shrinks all the time. I agree with that, but