Guest lecturer to discuss science, philosophy May 2

The forensic science, chemistry and physics programs at Western Carolina University will co-host a lecture titled “Do Scientists Need Philosophy?” in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center on Friday, May 2.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 3 p.m.

The speaker, David Harriman, will examine the reasons that many modern scientists find philosophy irrelevant to their work and then make the case against that attitude, said David Evanoff, assistant professor of analytical chemistry at WCU.

“Scientific research, he will argue, necessarily depends on views about the nature of knowledge and how it is acquired,” Evanoff said. “Using historical examples, he will show that true philosophic ideas have made possible the major achievements of science, whereas false philosophic ideas have led to science’s most embarrassing moments.”

David Harriman, author and lecturer, will speak at WCU on May 2.

David Harriman, author and lecturer, will speak at WCU on May 2.

Harriman earned his master’s degree in physics from the University of Maryland and his master’s degree in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University. Early in his career, he worked as an applied physicist, developing gravity models that are used in state-of-the-art inertia navigation systems. Since then, his work has focused on the relationship between philosophy and physics.

Harriman has published articles on topics such as Galileo’s battle with the church, the concept of space, philosophic influences on “enlightenment science,” and the development of atomic theory. His recent book, “The Logical Leap,” presents a view of scientific method that is based on a close examination of crucial discoveries in the history of science.

For more information about the May 2 lecture, contact Evanoff at devanoff@wcu.edu or 828-227-2829.