Physics Needs Metaphysics

“The intelligibility and intrinsic rationality of reality cannot be taken for granted,” says Roger Trigg in his recent article “Why Science Needs Metaphysics.” Trigg is professor emeritus of philosophy at the University of Warwick and founding president of the British Philosophical Association. The article is an excerpt from his forthcoming book Beyond Matter: Science Needs Metaphysics.

Trigg argues that it is extremely difficult, nay impossible, to use science to explain science. In order to articulate the possibilities, the limitations, or the purposes of science — we have to step outside of science into a domain that many scientists consider off limits — metaphysics. Metaphysics (think outside or above physics) is the branch of philosophy that deals with really big issues that include God, the nature of reality, and other things that make you go hmmmm.

I’m eager to read his book when it comes out next month. It looks to provide some academic weight to a debate that shouldn’t be so complicated, namely that science isn’t sovereign. To give you a peak what you can expect in his book, here’s an extended quote from the article:

“What then has to be the case for genuine science as such to be possible? This is a question from outside science and is, by definition, a philosophical—even a metaphysical—question. Those who say that science can answer all questions are themselves standing outside science to make that claim. That is why naturalism—the modern version of materialism, seeing reality as defined by what is within reach of the sciences—becomes a metaphysical theory when it strays beyond methodology to talk of what can exist. Denying metaphysics and upholding materialism must itself be a move within metaphysics. It involves standing outside the practice of science and talking of its scope. The assertion that science can explain everything can never come from within science. It is always a statement about science.”