This will be kind of a funny post from one perspective, and a post that I probably should not write, were I to optimize for minimal eye-rolling. But I'd rather just express an opinion, so here it is.
I was part of a team that wrote a really nice (I think) paper on the theory behind modeling in neuroscience (which was largely led by the first author, Dan Levenstein) and as that might suggest I am firmly convinced that there are good philosophical discussions to be had on philosophy in neuroscience and biology. What is the role of theory? What does a theory look like? These were some of the questions that we tackled in that paper.
But then, there are some philosophical questions that are easily answered if you just know a little physics and mathematics. And some people do try to answer them. The problem in my opinion is that they often do not know the math and physics well and are often speaking to an audience that doesn't know the math and physics well either. It's like the blind following those who only have one eye that's mutilated. This can lead to some appallingly funny results, like the scandal in which some physicist wrote bullshit tied up in the language of quantum mechanics and got it through a philosophy journal's peer review process. If the referees don't know quantum mechanics but like the conclusions, why would this not happen? But I'm speaking of what I know, which is that this sometimes happens in theoretical biology as well. This more often than not can lead to years of trying to answer conundrums that are not actually conundrums because someone has fundamentally misunderstood what causality means or how something could mathematically be goal-directed without being psychic.
There's a particular paper that I want to cite that is quite good in some ways and interestingly wrong in others, and because I do like the paper and do not want to be a jackass (more on that later), I will not link anyone to this paper. Suffice it to say that it had some good ideas. Apparently biologists and the philosophers who had aided them had been questioning the validity of teleonomy for years-- this is the idea that organisms are goal-directed. Questioning this idea is no problem. It's just that some questioned the idea of goal-directedness on the grounds that it violated causality. Wouldn't you have to look into the future in order actually be goal-directed? Sounds common sense. And yet, if one were to talk to a stockbroker, they might tell you that while they can't see the future prices of stocks, they use the past as a guide to the future and make predictions regardless. There is no psychic ability here and no violation of causality. The stockbroker is certainly goal-directed in their desire to make money; they have a strategy that uses learning and memory; and this strategy does not require psychic powers. So, the concern that goal-directedness violates causality violates common sense, in my opinion. This particular paper did a nice job of pointing out (in different words for sure) that goal-directedness and causality were not at odds.
What this paper did not do well: it confused quantum mechanics and chaos; it confused homeostasis for goal-directedness, and while homeostasis is often a goal, it is not the only goal, since we sometimes need to modify our internal state in order to survive when we are making predictions about the world, finding food, mating, seeking shelter, and so on. The latter was the manuscript's main contribution to the literature.
I don't think anybody is ever going to spark a debate with the manuscript. I am pretty aggressive and I feel like that just wouldn't be "nice". There's this unstated idea in science that we should be collegial. It has, in my opinion, led to a few huge reproducibility crises, and yet I feel the pull of being in a scientific world in which I basically do not challenge papers that I think are wrong for two reasons. First, this "nice" reason: I feel a gendered pull to not be "mean" to this person who put their ideas down in a scientific paper, even though the point is that ideas are supposed to be challenged. In fact, senior researchers told me (when I was a more argumentative graduate student) that certain papers were not written by experts but were supposed to just introduce ideas, so I should just drop the idea of writing a manuscript correcting their basic information-theoretic misunderstandings. Second, a resource-based argument: if I sat around all day writing papers that correct papers that are published, I would never get anything done. And yet, that impedes the progress of science, right? So, I have taken to writing these short blog posts that who knows how many people read instead of writing paper responses to papers... but even now, I'm too afraid of being not "nice" to say the author's name!!!! How's that for a sociological problem. Or maybe, it's just me.