I think you are. It is true that many scientists have rejected the insights that only philosophy can provide. They just can’t see a need for the purely intellectual pursuit of philosophy when their model of hypothesis generation and experimentation has seemed to produce so much more tangible progress. Of course many of these same scientists will sing the praises of theoretical physics to anyone who will listen.

That said I believe that even scientists who reject philosophy as meaningless or useless still hold philosophical positions and use them as a guide in their work. Specifically they accept most or all of the ethical and moral principles of philosophy. Things like the importance of the pursuit of truth, the inherent value of Justice, the belief in the fundamental goodness of people. Most importantly I think scientists all share a fundamental belief that the reason they do what they do is primarily to help others. To make the world a better place and all that cliche shit.

If you were to confront the philosophical naysayer scientists about this I am certain they would object or find an answer as to why they do science that does not default to ethical principles. I suggest they would be lying.

Most of the technologists also reject philosophy as useless. However in contrast to the scientists they do not share an explicit or even unconscious belief in the importance of ethical principles. They fundamentally reject all constraints on their own work and behavior. They answer only to the consumer. If people want something enough to spend money on it they are happy to supply it. Social, ethical, environmental consequences be dammed. They are more than happy to brag about all the “good” their products have facilitated. Look at the importance of Twitter in the Arab Spring is a great example of this line of thinking.

Ultimately however the shareholders and board members of Twitter or any other tech company could give two shits about such things. They view any incidental benefit as good PR and nothing more. It helps them sleep easier at night.

Scientists are far from perfect. There are evil people who also claim to be scientists. However they are in the minority. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the technologists. My biggest fear as a practicing scientist is that technologists might someday use my work for their own gain.

Written by

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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