Lately, the conversations I’ve been having here and with friends on other sites have focused my attention on the question, “what is the role of philosophy in an age of science?” (I have a long-standing interest in this question, as someone who pursued an undergraduate degree in biology and switched to philosophy for graduate study.)
Here are a couple of options that I think deserve to be taken seriously — though I think there are reasons for thinking that some of them are preferable to others — in coming up with this list I was inspired by Ian Barbour‘s models on science and religion —
(1) total separation: science inquires into a posteriori truths, and philosophy inquires into a priori truths, so nothing that science has to say can affect philosophy, or the other way around. (Another version of total separation puts the emphasis on the distinction between the descriptive project of science and the normative project of philosophy — “how ought we to live?” is not, at first blush, a scientific question.)
(2) conflict — philosophy makes claims about the human condition, experience, value, meaning (etc.) that are undermined by the causal explanations provided by science. Under the conflict model, science takes priority over philosophy, or philosophy takes priority over science. For example, phenomenology took the position that a distinctive kind of philosophical inquiry was the foundation of the sciences and made the sciences possible. (Though phenomenology might be better classified under separation than under conflict — it depends on the particular phenomenologist, perhaps.)
(3) dialogue — the sciences benefit from the reflective analysis practiced in philosophy for refining their basic concepts and assumptions, and philosophy benefits from the new empirical discoveries that science discloses. So philosophers can contribute the metaphysics of physics or the epistemology of scientific inquiry, for example.
(4) integration — a fully philosophical science and a scientific philosophy.
I would position myself somewhere between (3) and (4) — I think that the philosophy is most successful when it creates new conceptions that give voice to the problems and opportunities disclosed by new scientific discoveries*, e.g. re-conceiving the concepts of selfhood and autonomy in light of neuroscience, or in re-conceiving the concepts of matter and causation in light of quantum physics.
* though not just new scientific discoveries — new kinds of artistic creations and political relations can and should also prompt the philosopher to create new concepts.