Abstract

Some years ago, Mario Bunge advocated a "vigorous and symmetrical interaction between science and philosophy ... to close the gap between the two camps and to develop a scientific philosophy and a science with philosophical awareness."  The aim of this paper is to defend both parts of Bunge's thesis that philosophical conclusions are relevant to empirical research – and, more controversially, that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions.  Drawing on examples from behavioral economics and the economics of happiness, I will argue that the relationship between the relevant science and philosophy is remarkably symmetric: just like scientists cannot avoid making philosophical assumptions, philosophers often cannot help but proceed from empirical premises.  I conclude by endorsing Bunge's recommendation that "philosophers should become apprentices rather than lawgivers, and participants rather than onlookers" – and that the same thing is true for social and behavioral scientists.