scientific project consists in the identification of as many of these useful region/pattern pairings as possible, and individual sciences aim at careful identification of patterns in the evolution of particular regions.
With this understanding of science (and the scientific project more generally) in hand, then, we can return to the question we posed near the beginning of this chapter: how are we to respond to the spirit of Richard Feynman? What's a philosopher to say in his own defense? What do we bring to the scientific table? It should be clear from what we've said thus far that philosophy is not, strictly speaking a science; philosophy (with a very few exceptions) does not seek to make measurements of the world around us, use those measurements to identify patterns in that world, and construct models under which those patterns are projected to future unobserved cases. That is, philosophy is not a science in the way that chemistry, biology, economics, climate science, or (a fortiori) fundamental physics are sciences; there is no set of configuration-space carvings with which philosophy is concerned. However, this does not mean that philosophy is not a part of Science in the sense of contributing to the overall scientific project. How does that relationship work? An analogy might help here. Consider the relationship between commercial airline pilots and the air-traffic controllers working at major metropolitan airports around the world. The kind of specialized knowledge required to operate (say) a Boeing 747 safely—as
- There will often be overlap between the regions studied by one science and the regions studied by another. The “human with his hand in a pot of boiling water” sort of system will admit of patterns from (for example) the perspectives of biology, psychology, and chemistry. That is to say that this sort of system is one that is in a region whose behavior can be predicted by the regularities identified by all of these special sciences, despite the fact that the unique carvings of biology, psychology, and chemistry will be regions with very different shapes. Systems like this one sit in regions whose time-evolution is particularly rich in interesting patterns.
- Of course, this is not to dismiss experimental philosophy as a legitimate discipline. Rather, on the view that I am advocating here, traditional experimental philosophy would count as a special science (in the sense described above) in its own right—a special science with deep methodological, historical, and conceptual ties to philosophy proper, but one which is well and truly its own project.