Opinion: Why science needs philosophy

"To overcome these difficulties, we believe that a series of simple recommendations, which could be readily implemented, can help bridge the gap between science and philosophy. […]

i) Make more room for philosophy in scientific conferences. […]

ii) Host philosophers in scientific labs and departments. […]

iii) Co-supervise PhD students. […]

iv) Create curricula balanced in science and philosophy that foster a genuine dialogue between them.

v) Read science and philosophy.

vi) Open new sections devoted to philosophical and conceptual issues in science journals."

Full PNAS article here:


I agree. Personally, I think philosophy sharpens person’s mind although It took me several years to realize this. I hated philosophy when I was in pharmacy school.


i have read about this (science and philosophy) furiously, especially when i came across islamic philosophy and islamic science in my undergraduate years more than a decade ago.

for now, the ‘best’ integration of science and philosophy, apart from the islamic perspective, that i can find is nicholas maxwell’s body of work, most of which can be found on his website:


i have devoured the content of that website and almost all of maxwell’s work, that i can find elsewhere, as well as his critics. but i have not had the chance to discuss them with anyone.

such is the plight of a researcher in a post-colonial country. :wink:


I believe I haven’t come across Nicholas Maxwell yet. I will check out the link and I will try to respond

I’ve also become more interested in the philosophy of science recently, in particularly with regards to theories of truth in scientific discovery. Although most scientists apparently work with the correspondence theory of truth, I’m starting to think that the coherence theory of truth may now be more helpful for interpreting the growing (and often incoherent) scientific literature. But I’ve just started looking into this, so I’m not sure I can put forward a full argument for using coherence.

@surya can you suggest any good texts related to the philosophy of science in islamic or eastern literature? I’ve only looked at this from the Western perspective, but I’m happy to broaden my view on this. I haven’t seen Maxwell’s work before, but it looks interesting. From looking very briefly at his website I noticed he talked about Aim-oriented Empiricism and Rationalism - this actually sounds surprisingly like the idea of idea of Definite Optimism which became popular in entrepreneurship after it was coined by Peter Thiel. I’ll think more on how these can be related.


thanks @Gavin. my intuition tells me that maxwell somewhat integrates, for practical purposes, the correspondence & coherence theory of truths, around his concept of ‘wisdom’.

for my suggestion regarding islamic philosophy of science ‘texts’ (note: i do know non-islamic, non-western, and western-variant (non-secular/christian/judaistic/etc.) perspectives):


note that both ‘texts’ are ‘empirical’ works, which i think would be more illustrative than ‘theoretical’ works, for those uninitiated to islamic science and its philosophy.

i think from those texts you could quickly grasp what islamic science and its philosophy are all about: the centrality of the qur’an in muslim life, including their reason and rationality. :slight_smile:

i browsed briefly reviews of thiel’s book, and get how thiel’s idea could be interpreted to be similar to maxwell’s for the field of enterpreneurship. :slight_smile:

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Thanks @surya , I’ll have a look over the Yaqeen Institute publications and Maxwell’s work when I have a chance. Would you recommend one of Maxwell’s books in particular?

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welcome, @Gavin . do not miss the ‘continuous recreation’ paper too. the yaqeen ones are highlighted but not the kalam. not sure why. so here is the link again. :slight_smile:


i sent those because they are written by practising scientists, so they are more ‘practical’, and you can see ‘islamic science’ in action. :slight_smile:

maxwell is a very prolific author, but i am going to recommend two of his books, which i took from aeon. :slight_smile:

From Knowledge to Wisdom - 1984

The Metaphysics of Science and Aim-Oriented Empiricism: A Revolution for Science and Philosophy - 2019

source: https://aeon.co/essays/bring-back-science-and-philosophy-as-natural-philosophy

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