The book in question was Richard Dawid’s String Theory and the Scientific Method , which comes with blurbs from Gross and string theorist John Schwarz on the cover. Dawid is a physicist turned philosopher, and he makes the claim that string theory shows that conventional ideas about theory confirmation need to be revised to accommodate new scientific practice and the increasing significance of “non-empirical theory confirmation.”This is on the blog that defended philosophy from attacks by physicists. I posted some comments:
Does anyone here think that modern philosophers have contributed something useful to this topic? String theory has failed to make testable prediction, or to reproduce existing theory. The Standard Model has succeeded in LHC experiments. Thus the Standard Model has won. Modern philosophy of science has contributed nothing.If I were to pick one failure of 20th century philosophers on the subject of physics, it would be the textbook resolution of the Bohr–Einstein debates. From the famous R.P. Feynman Lectures on Physics:
Yes, there is a competition to find the best theories for high-energy physics. Many leading physicists were openly hoping that the LHC would falsify the Standard Model so that competing theories could gain traction.
I do think that philosophy of science should be able to say something about whether string theory is a worthwhile scientific endeavor.
I read Pigliucci's complaint that Tyson said that "philosophy has basically parted ways from the frontier of the physical sciences" in the early 20th century. Sorry, but Tyson is right. It is nearly impossible to find any philosopher who has anything worthwhile to say about 20th century physics. Dawid's post-empiricism is just the latest example of foolishness, as Woit explains.
Another thing that people have emphasized since quantum mechanics was developed is the idea that we should not speak about those things which we cannot measure. (Actually relativity theory also said this.)Philosophers love to give opinions about things that cannot be measured. That is okay with me. My problem is with those who say that it is somehow a shortcoming of the physical theory that it only explains observables.