Add this site to your Home Screen by opening it in Safari, tapping and selecting "Add to home screen"

Our panel of 88 professional philosophers has responded to

Question of the day

Perhaps a philosopher of science can address this question more cogently, but I'll make a few observations.

You seem to be assuming that the theory of the ancient greek philosopher and the modern theory confirmed by contemporary experiments are the same theory, or posit the same entities, say. But it seems likely that the atomic theory of Epicurus or Democritus, say, is not the same theory of 20th Century physics, just as the ancient greek methods and those that Lord Rutherford used to confirm the atomic theory were also dissimilar. So I don't see how those ancient thinkers could have 'earned credit' for a theory they themselves did not propose. Nevertheless, we can still recognize the prescient nature of their insight into reality and refer to them as forerunners or precursors, if we wish.

As for the difference between lucky speculation and insight, I am not sure that's a useful distinction to make.