"Scientific philosophy" as I will be using it here is an eighteenth century invention by now-forgotten philosophers (McLaurin, 's Gravesande) or not read as philosophers anymore (Euler) (and then opposed by now-canonical philosophers like Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and folk that are fun to read like Mandeville and Diderot) that, after the split between philosophy and science, was re-introduced into philosophy by people like Russell, and echoed by Carnap, and Reichenbach. Scientific philosophy has six characteristics:
- Empirical ‘success’ trumps other (rational/methodological) claims. Given that scientific philosophers sometimes retreat to the idea that philosophy is an a priori discipline, the 'empirical' (in 1) is often re-packaged as, say, inference to the best explanation in light of a variety of enduring 'scientific virtues' (i.e., simplicity, scope, predictive power, fruitfulness, exactness, etc.)
- (a) Physics is the foundational science and/but it (b) has no need for ultimate foundations. While 2(a) may seem obvious (see, e.g., Ladymann & Ross) due to its universal scope, its foundational nature was contested well into the nineteenth century. One could imagine, say, the science of information taking over as the foundational science in the future.
- Within scientific philosophy reason limits itself in various ways: in doing so (a) it avoid the fallacy of systematicity because it does not try to say everything about everything; (b) it embraces the intellectual division of labor (from 3(b)); it avoids the fallacy of (metaphysical) foundationalism because it has no need to try to to secure its practice in un-shakeable, first principles (see 2(b)). So, it is no surprise that Russell rejected the principle of sufficient reason or Bradley's regress argument.
- Scientific philosophy is a self-directed, autonomous practice; once one has mastered certain rigorous tools, one moves from one given experiment/solution (etc.) to the next problem. Given the emphasis on rigor, it is no surprise that:
- Scientific philosophy is often opposed to a licentious or unintelligible alternative(s) associated with past failures, sometimes even moral. (Exhibit a.) It, thus, embraces commitments to transparency (and clarity).
- Scientific philosophy offers submission to the facts (recall) and is disciplined (recall) by way of a careful, painful, modest and most importantly open-ended progressive method. This entails that any scientific philosopher will enter a pre-existing, moving research trajectory and can expect to die before any destination is ever reached.