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Physics What is the usefulness of a degree in physics and philosophy

  1. Dec 25, 2016 #1
    Trying to navigate the confusing world of college applications I'm trying to figure out the usefulness of a physics and philosophy degree or a engineering and physics degree. Thoughts?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 25, 2016 #2

    Paul Colby

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    Physics works. Philosophy doesn't work.

    [edit] Engineering applies physics to do actual work.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  4. Dec 25, 2016 #3
    Physics works. Philosophy doesn't work.

    A joint degree in physics and philosophy is perhaps better than a WHOLE degree in philosophy.Does OP mean economic usefullness to the degree holder, or other kind of usefulness..
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2016
  5. Dec 25, 2016 #4

    ZapperZ

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    Check for yourself.

    https://cew.georgetown.edu/cew-reports/valueofcollegemajors/#full-report

    In this study, philosophy is lumped together with religious studies. You may draw your own conclusions.

    Zz.
     
  6. Dec 25, 2016 #5

    BvU

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    Dear Confusius, :welcome:
    Do the latter. If you turn out to be a real genius you can add philosophy in a later stage -- if still necessary
     
  7. Dec 25, 2016 #6

    Dale

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    As hiring manager in industry I would be cautious about hiring someone with a philosophy degree. I would rather hire someone with either just engineering or just physics than with either of those plus philosophy.

    I recognize that I am highly biased against philosophy, but as a manager of engineers I don't need or want philosophy at all.
     
  8. Dec 25, 2016 #7
    As mentioned, there will be a few types of jobs where the hiring managers may be biased against the philosophy side.

    But it may be an advantage for some other types of jobs that are more heavy on writing and communication than on just solving problems: science writer, science editor, etc.

    I was a philosophy course or two away from a philosophy minor. Those philosophy courses really helped me in thinking and writing and problem solving, but most were more classical (opposed to modern) philosophy courses: Plato, Euclid, logic, etc. rather than existentialism, etc. I learned a lot about thinking outside the box and reformulating problems from a different perspective.

    Philosophy taught me to formulate questions that are easier to answer with the available tools and steer away from questions that are harder to answer. I am much more comfortable with imperfect or incomplete answers, and I tend not to pretend to have a higher level of confidence than warranted by the data.

    Philosophy, rather than physics, gave me a keen eye to distinguish between arguments that rest mostly on authority and arguments backed up by hard data. I have a Plato-like tendency to doubt things and pursue Socratic dialectic to explore issues of confidence and doubt regarding scientific assertions.
     
  9. Dec 25, 2016 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    Is this a double major in physics and philosophy? Or is it a single course in "physics and philosophy"? The latter smacks of woo.
     
  10. Dec 25, 2016 #9

    symbolipoint

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    This is one of those topics in which I would like to add a LIKE to post #7 of Dr. Courtney twice instead of just once.
     
  11. Dec 25, 2016 #10

    Paul Colby

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    Philosophy may not "work" in the sense that science works but that is not same as being without value. Art, music and literature don't work either but I wouldn't suggest an education without them. Some component of ones education should be devoted to subject matters aimed at broadening ones views and opinions. Critical thinking is a very important skill in all life's endeavors.
     
  12. Dec 26, 2016 #11
    ALL jokes aside I was reading a philosophy book from a well known author and he made these assertions, I read a little bit more but not too much and Ive forgotten :sorry: most but these points struck with me:

    1. Philosophers decide what counts as knowledge
    2. all paradoxical questions or major questions in every field are about issues PHILOSOPHICAL in nature.
    3. Philosophy isn't a subject like physics or maths, its a "way to tease apart and examine reality", like manure, pile it in one place and it stinks, but spread it around and its surprisingly useful. (direct para phrasing from THE BOOK)

    I also spoke with a philosophy student and she said SHE WANT to WORK in a medical ETHICS committee:micoscope: So philosophy DOES work somewhat. also rather annoyinhly these philosophers take potshots at just about every field of knowledge without really having an indepth training in it.:mad:
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  13. Dec 26, 2016 #12

    StatGuy2000

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    Dale, is this bias against philosophy based on personal experience, either through your experiences in college/university or through your past hires? (e.g. hiring an engineer with a minor or double major in philosophy)
     
  14. Dec 26, 2016 #13

    Paul Colby

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    Not on my watch.

    Philosophy I was exposed to was more about asking questions than answering them.
     
  15. Dec 26, 2016 #14

    Dale

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    Yes. I took a little philosophy in college, including a course in metaphysics. That pretty much established "philosophy is useless" in my mind. My experiences here as a mentor are what established "philosophers are annoying and disruptive".
     
  16. Dec 26, 2016 #15

    George Jones

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    A few days ago, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder made an interesting post on her blog BackRe(Action) about physics and philosophy,

    http://backreaction.blogspot.ca/2016/12/reasoning-in-physics.html

    which ends with

    "The philosophers are offering the conceptual clarity that I find missing in my own field."

    This maybe shouldn't be that surprising given that it is well known that Hossenfelder is unhappy with some of the current practices in theoretical physics.
     
  17. Dec 26, 2016 #16

    StatGuy2000

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    Of course, I could argue that your view that "philosophy is useless" is based on some poorly-taught courses rather than the value of philosophy itself. And your experiences in PF as a mentor is again based on the experiences of a few trolls, as opposed to genuine philosophers.

    As an aside, did you have a positive experience with or a positive view of any of the non-STEM courses you took in college?
     
  18. Dec 26, 2016 #17
    TO KNOW is one of the biggest issue of philosophy....perhaps thats why they are taking potshots at every respectable field of knowledge.
    obligatory qoute for op:
    "Philosophy is the no mans land between theology and science, under attack from both sides" - Bertrand Russel.

    Your mileage may vary.
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2016
  19. Dec 26, 2016 #18

    Paul Colby

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    In science there is a prescribed way to determine the validity of a model or theory. In philosophy to my knowledge there is no such agreed upon principle. It's fine to discuss differing points of view but there is nothing within philosophy to distinguish differing theories as one being valid and the others not. Like art, it's a matter of taste.
     
  20. Dec 26, 2016 #19

    Dale

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    And like many philosophical arguments it would sound good but not be based on evidence.
     
  21. Dec 26, 2016 #20
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