Welcome to Clip from Spiral logo

Interactive video lesson plan for: Where Philosophy Meets Science

Activity overview:

What can a philosophy of science really accomplish? As the head of Columbia's Philosophy of Physics program explains, the field is at its healthiest when philosophy and science are indistinguishable from each other.

Question: What is the role of a philosopher of science?
David Albert: Well, I think that philosophy of science is at its best and at its most exciting at historical moments when it's not so easy to distinguish between the activities of certain kinds of theoretical physicists and the activities of certain kinds of philosophers. Philosophy of science, I think -- or at least -- well, let me back up a bit. There's -- philosophy of science can be divided roughly into two different kinds of activities. One is an activity of raising and investigating general philosophical questions about what science is, about whether the claims of science have some kind of privileged epistemic access to the world, can be justified, attempts to systematize how science reasons, attempts to raise questions about whether we should trust the conclusions of science, so on and so forth. These are very broad, very traditionally philosophical kinds of issues.
There's another branch of philosophy of science that takes up questions that arise within particular scientific theories -- the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, so on and so forth, and actually gets its hands dirty in the details of the structure of these scientific theories in order to try to help with problems that are often essentially scientific problems, but whose solution calls for an unusual degree of sensitivity to philosophical questions. It's the second kind of work that my own work has mostly been, and it's the second kind of work that one refers to when one refers to the foundations of physics. There are problems about the logical structure of physics, about the foundational assumptions that physics makes. Whether these problems properly belong to physics or they properly belong to philosophy when the field is healthy isn't much of an issue.
In my own case, my Ph.D. was in theoretical physics. I was a professor in physics departments before being a professor in philosophy departments. When I write a paper now, my rule is that if at the end it has more than two equations in it, I send it to a physics journal, and if it has less than two, I send it to a philosophy journal, and there's not much more of a distinction than that. When I attend conferences where people are discussing the kinds of questions that I'm interested in, about half of the people speaking at these conferences are employed in physics departments, and half are employed in philosophy departments, and it's not particularly easy to tell by listening to their talks what sort of department they're employed in. So philosophy of science, like I say, when it's healthy, is a matter of focusing with a certain level of philosophical sensitivity and sophistication on questions at the foundations of physics.

Tagged under: bigthink

Clip makes it super easy to turn any public video into a formative assessment activity in your classroom.

Add multiple choice quizzes, questions and browse hundreds of approved, video lesson ideas for Clip

Make YouTube one of your teaching aids - Works perfectly with lesson micro-teaching plans

Play this activity

1. Students enter a simple code

2. You play the video

3. The students comment

4. You review and reflect

* Whiteboard required for teacher-paced activities

Share on:

Share Where Philosophy Meets Science on Google+ Share Where Philosophy Meets Science on Twitter Share Where Philosophy Meets Science on Facebook Pin Where Philosophy Meets Science Email Where Philosophy Meets Science

Ready to see what else Spiral logo can do?

With four apps, each designed around existing classroom activities, Spiral gives you the power to do formative assessment with anything you teach.


Carry out a quickfire formative assessment to see what the whole class is thinking


Create interactive presentations to spark creativity in class

Team Up

Student teams can create and share collaborative presentations from linked devices


Turn any public video into a live chat with questions and quizzes

1000s of teachers use Spiral to deliver awesome, engaging activities that capture students' understanding during lessons.

Now it's your turn Sign up

Spiral Reviews by Teachers and Digital Learning Coaches

Review of Spiral by teacher: Kathryn Laster @kklaster

Tried out the canvas response option on @SpiralEducation & it's so awesome! Add text or drawings AND annotate an image! #R10tech

Review of Spiral by teacher: Room 220 Math Stars @3rdgradeBCE

Using @SpiralEducation in class for math review. Student approved! Thumbs up! Thanks.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Miss Ord @ordmiss

Absolutely amazing collaboration from year 10 today. 100% engagement and constant smiles from all #lovetsla #spiral

Review of Spiral by teacher: Adam J. Stryker @strykerstennis

Students show better Interpersonal Writing skills than Speaking via @SpiralEducation Great #data #langchat folks!

Review of Spiral by teacher: Dr Ayla Göl @iladylayla

A good tool for supporting active #learning.

Review of Spiral by teacher: Brett Erenberg @BrettErenberg

The Team Up app is unlike anything I have ever seen. You left NOTHING out! So impressed!

Get the Clip Chrome Extension & Create Video Lessons in Seconds

Add Clip to Chrome