The Pub Debate: There’s no such thing as philosophy – there is only science and bullshit.

On Monday 1st September at 6pm, we’re holding our first Pub Debate in the Roundhouse Club Bar.  Battling it out for immortality and beery superiority will be two of UNSW’s finest minds.



 In the red corner, Dr Peter Slezak:


“The question ‘What is physics?’ is not itself a question in physics, but the question ‘What is philosophy?’ has always been a central question of philosophy. This suggests that we might, in Rorty’s words, “go a fair way toward dispensing with philosophy”.


One symptom of the malaise is the fact that there is no discernable progress in philosophy. Perhaps the questions are just really hard. Or, perhaps, as Wittgenstein thought, they are really just pseudo-problems. If the logical empiricists were right, the only meaningful propositions are those of science: There is only science and bullshit.”


In the blue corner, Dr Brent Madison:


“Philosophy is a genuine field of study: it is the investigation of the fundamental facts about the universe and our place in it.  Philosophy asks, of our most fundamental beliefs about these issues, which can be rationally defended?
Philosophy is dedicated to evaluating arguments and constructing theories.  Not merely describing the history of ideas, it asks not just what we do believe or why we believe it, but if we ought to believe it (and if so why). Philosophical questions involve clarifying concepts and asking fundamental questions of justification. It has a method of justification independent of sense experience, proceeding via reason alone. In all this, philosophy is fundamentally a ‘meta’ or second-order disciple wherein we ‘think about thinking.’”


Come along to enjoy the spectacle and perhaps even learn if there is such a thing as philosophy…


2 responses to “The Pub Debate: There’s no such thing as philosophy – there is only science and bullshit.

  1. I expect to fervently disagree with both Peter and Brent (the views they put forward, while perhaps mutually exclusive are not exhaustive). Anyway here are some epigrams about philosophy that come to mind:

    Philosophy is concerned with how things, in the broadest sense of the term, hang-together, in the broadest sense of the term. – Wilfred Sellers

    Philosophers are idea junkies. – Heard this from Graham Priest

    Philosophy is intellectual housekeeping – from Michaelis

    Philosophy is conceptual engineering – from Simon Blackburn

    Philosophers are those who first raise a dust and then complain they cannot see – Misquote of Berkeley

    Philosophy is one big argument about who gets to beg what questions. – This one’s mine, but I only like its sentiment when I’m feeling cynical

  2. Pingback: (N.B.C.) Is Everyone a Philosopher? « Socratic Society

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