The response to the latest comment on the Intelligent Design thread got long enough that I decided to elevate it to a new post.
All I'm trying to do is point out that there is philosophy involved in teaching science since most science classes are taught with the unspoken assumption that the senses are the only valid way that humans can gain knowledge.
No, most science classes are taught with the unspoken assumption that the senses are the only valid way to gain scientific knowledge, which is true by definition. I agree that this definition is often unspoken, and that is indeed unfortunate. But there's no more philosophy involved here than there is in saying that words are the only way to write literature.
(This is what I'm referring to as strict empiricism a la Locke.) It is a philosophical position, yet it's taught in schools without any mention of philosophy.
It's been a long time since I was in school so maybe things have changed, but in my day such topics were only ever touched on in history class, and then only in advanced placement classes, and then only to mention in passing that there was this philosopher named Locke who had these ideas that turned out to be very influential and so forth. Never once did anyone even hint at the idea that Lockian empiricism was "true" in any metaphysical sense.
I think you may have taken the term empicicism differently, so I want to make sure we're communicating right.The problem is that knowledge arrived to by other sources than the senses (usually knowledge of morality) is usually demoted to 'opinion' since it is not obtained by science.
Why "demoted"? And why is this a problem? The fact of the matter is that people by and large agree on what their senses tell them (so much so that we have few qualms about labelling the occasional person who sees and hears things differently as "mentally ill"), and by and large do not agree on much of anything else. This is a distinction worth making.
I'm not accusing you of committing this fallacy; I'm merely trying to point out a problem. Perhaps you haven't run in to this problem as often as I have, but it really bothers me whenever I see it since it's metaphysically sloppy.
Why? It's you saying opinion is inferior to empiricism, not me. I have actually argued the exact opposite.
So in summary: empiricism is very important since without it science is nigh impossible. (Hello aristotelian abiogenesis!) However, when it claims to be the only valid form of knowledge, (what I am calling strict empiricism) it is stepping into the realm of philosophy.
That's a straw man. No one (except perhaps Richard Dawkins -- we scientists have our fanatics too) argues that empiricism is the only valid form of knowledge.
Tell me what you think: what constitutes a valid source of knowledge? How do you know it's wrong to kill innocent people?
So first of all, as a scientist (in the spiritual/religious sense, not the professional sense) I do not know anything to an absolute certainty. That said, I know it's wrong to kill innocent people (and innocent living things in general) because I feel an instinctive revulsion at the thought, and many of my fellow humans also seem to feel the same instinctive revulsion. (There are a few exceptions. The instinct is strong enough that we generally call people who lack this instinct "psychopaths" -- unless they happen to be President of the United States.)
I saw somewhere on your site what could have been a Darwinian explanation of the Golden Rule--that is quite interesting to me since it has the potential to solve what has historically been the Achilles Heel of strict empiricism. Could you also elaborate on that?"
That will have to wait for another post, but the work was done by Robert Axelrod in 1985. You can read about it here and here. The first book was accessibly summarized by Douglas Hofstadter in the final section of this book.