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There are three interesting sciences; philosophy, medical science and psychology. Now, it would be easy to say that we could distinguish these sciences from each other just like that. I am not sure we can. There are two interesting views here: psychology is somewhere in the middle between philosophy and medical science. And the other theory telling us that both psychology and medical science involves philosophy due to the fact that both a medical doctor and a psychology need to use human reasoning. They would also need a good philosophical anthropology to treat/help their patience. We even had the medieval ages when even theologians spoke of psychology.
How do you as a philosopher reason about this?

ANSWER: I think of it this way:

We have a bunch of facts that make up human knowledge. How we partition those facts is a matter of convenience, nothing more. We put some facts in "philosophy", some in "psychology". and some in "medical science."

We have methods for dealing with those facts, and discovering more like them. Because the methods are usually complex and hard to learn and teach, we don't teach all of them to everyone. The philosophical methods are taught to and by philosophers, and so on.

Then reality strikes. There's no guarantee that a method from medical science won't dig up a new fact with lots of psychological and/or philosophical ramifications -- as you correctly perceive.

The most compelling example right now is the immense amount of stuff coming out of neuroscience that has implications for all three fields. The discovery that neurons needed to move muscles start firing before we are aware of the decision to move them has a lot of implications for the theory of consciousness and the problem of free will. It also has lost of implications for philosophical theories of causality if we say that free will causes the neurons to start to move the muscles "retro-causally" so that all components of the process APPEAR to be simultaneous to our consciousness.

So I would say that the boundaries between the pools of facts and the pools of methods are fluid and ever-shifting.

Hope this helps.




---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Do you think it was correct of me to use the term science when reffering to philosophy?
And how do you define the term philosophy?

Given the way we use "science" in English, I would not call philsophy a science, even though Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas called it that.

For the definition of philosophy, see:

Hope this helps.




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Charles K. MacKay


I can answer a number of questions in philosophy; my academic concentrations (graduate school at Cornell) are ethics, political philosophy, and 19th-century German philosophy (Marx, Hegel, and hangers-on.)



BA, New College, 1971, Philosophy and Religion
Awarded four graduate fellowships upon graduation

MA, Cornell University, 1974
Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

All course work and dissertation drafts completed for Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971-1975, Social and Political Philosophy, Danforth Fellowship

Courses in statistics and microeconomics, George Washington University and The American University, 1976-1978

EXPERIENCE: Health Insurance Specialist 2005 - Present
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service
US Department of Health and Human Services

Allentown Business School Instructor (Computer Science) 2003 - 2005

Northampton Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy 2003 -2005

Lehigh County Community College
Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Computer Science


Medicare Made Easy (with Charles B. Inlander) Addison-Wesley, 1989

Good Operations, Bad Operations (with Charles B. Inlander) Viking Press, 1993

Health Rebooted: Information Changes Everything (in press), 2008

Bachelor of Arts, Philosphy and Religion, New College, 1971 Master of Arts, Social and Political Philosophy, Cornell University, 1975

Awards and Honors
Danforth Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson Fellowship

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