Post-empirical science or an expansion of scope: which would you choose?
Bee has very interesting comments about the thoughts of Richard Dawid about what assessment of physical theory is. Dawid sees that we are making a transition to post-empirism in which other than empirical facts serve increasingly as the criteria for deciding whether physical theory is useful.
Post-empirical science does is not an attractive vision about the future of science. For instance, the standard claim during string theory hegemony has been that string theories are totally exceptional and that the usual criteria do not apply to them. Bee comments also the notion of "usefulness" having also the sociological aspects in the cruel academic world in which we have to live.
People participating in the discussion seem to agree that theory assessment has become increasingly difficult. Philosopher Richard Dawid suggests what I would call giving up.
Why theory assessment has become so difficult? Is this really true? Or could it be that some wrong belief in our scientific belief system has caused this?
Could it be that our idea about what unified physical theory should be able to describe is badly wrong. When we speak about unification, we take the naive length scale reductionism as granted. We want to believe that everything physical above weak boson length scale is understood and the next challenge is to jump directly to Planck scale (itself a notion based on naive dimensional analysis and could lead to a totally wrong track concerning the ultimate nature of gravitation!).
In practice this means that we we drop from the field of attention entire fields of natural sciences such as biology and neuroscience - to say nothing about consciousness (conveniently reduced to physics in materialistic dogma). These fields provide a rich repertoire of what might could be seen as anomalies of existing physical theory provided we give up the dogma of length scale reductionism and see these anomalies as what they really are: phenomena about whose physical description or correlates of we actually don't heave a slightest clue. Admitting that we do not actually understand could be the way out of blind alley.
This kind of expansion of the view about what theory should explain might be extremely useful and open up new words for theoretician to understand. Theory could not anymore be degenerated to a question what happens in Planck length scale and it would have huge number of observations to explain. What are the basic new principles needed? This would become the basic question. One candidate for them is obviously fractality possibly replacing the naive length scale reductionism. This would bring in also philosophy, but in good sense rather than as an attempt to authorize a theory which has turned out incapable of saying anything interesting about the observed world.