In their 2010 book The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow expressed the opinion that philosophy was dead as a useful vocation – and that it was now scientists who must address the big questions such as “How was the universe created?”.
Of course this is not the first time that scientists – primed by the many triumphs of their craft, particularly in the last few centuries – have put down philosophy, and the debate about its usefulness will continue.
A recent instalment pits the biologist Lewis Wolpert of University College London against Steve Fuller, who is a philosopher at the University of Warwick. It was organized by the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) and you can watch it on the IAI’s video website. Also sticking his oar in on the side of philosophy is Jonathan Derbyshire, who is culture editor of the New Statesman. You can watch the debate here.
In this week’s Facebook poll we are asking which side of the fence you sit on – Hawking’s or the philosophers’.
Has today’s science rendered philosophy obsolete?
Let us know by visiting our Facebook page, and as always please feel free to post a comment to explain your answer.
In last week’s poll we asked what many would consider a philosophical question: In your interpretation of quantum physics, do objects have their properties well defined prior to and independent of measurement?
64% of you answered no – and when the same question was put in 2011 to professional physicists who study quantum theory, the result was 48%. The most popular response then was “yes in some cases”, which garnered 52% of the vote. In our poll, by contrast, only 18% went for that option.