This is a blog to discuss philosophy, chess, politics,
C. S. Lewis, or whatever it is that I'm in the mood to discuss.
Laudan is so 1980s philosophy of science. :)Just because I can't tell you exactly when a few grains of sand becomes a pile of sand, this doesn't mean that there aren't clear cut piles of sand. Similarly, there are clear-cut cases of non science (e.g., poetry, religion, creationism, philosophy of art), ambiguous cases (pure mathematics, economics, sociology) and obvious cases of science (e.g., molecular neurobiology, solid state physics, geology). Lauden rightly points out that it is hard to give a set of binary conditions necessary and sufficient for class membership, but draws the wrong conclusion from this, throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Overton did a pretty good job, for a judge. Sure, his criteria may need some philosophical tinkering, but as a practical guide it sets a good precedent.
BDK: Laudan is so 1980s philosophy of science. :)Ug. Using dates as terms of abuse. I think this is the fallacy of chronological snobbery. The problem is whether the criteria advanced which exclude the items we don't want end up excluding things we do want. And why define science at all? Why not just say the statements about ID should be made because they don't accurately reflect the science as it currently stands?
VR said:Why not just say the statements about ID should [sic] be made because they don't accurately reflect the science as it currently stands?I think this is indeed one of the many good reasons creationism shouldn't be included in biology curricula. Another is that it, especially as practiced in Kansas and Dover, doesn't meet standard benchmark criteria for being a science, with all the messiness that comes with defining science (as well as other terms which require somewhat anemic explicit definitions for purposes of legal practice). Both are good reasons, and both were aptly given in the Dover decision by this Republican conservative judge.
We have a pretty good idea and a working definition of what science entails.Victor, there is period generally seen as the 'academic time frame', usually about ten years, during which time a research paper, treatise, book etc has high value currency, the level of value consistent with current and emerging trends and discoveries in that area of investigation. Following that decade their value decreases. That is why, while we appreciate that galileo may have undertaken mass and gravity experiments from the Tower of Pisa, his currency in the field contemporary gravitational science is 'so 1600s philosophy of science'.If it seems like 'ground hog day' it appears only you and Laudan are experiencing it. In his piece, Laudan not only comments on an incident that occurred 30-plus years ago, but the tenor and perspective of his comments seem equally posited within an '80s mind-frame.There is merit in BDK's overview of Laudan's comments, and mindful of currency of information, suggests Laudan's essay would be of very limited academic value other than as a personal and somewhat belated rebuke of Overton's assessment.
I also worry about judges defining science, but I do not think it of much importance. Whatever a judgment states, I suspect that judges will, if interested in the question, defer to the scientific community where consensus is available.`Pragmatic coherentist demarcationism', I guess.I agree with Laudan that it does have the unfortunate effect of perpetuating a very weak philosophy of science, and that is hardly a `so 30 years ago' issue. I think that Pigliucci is working on a new collection on demarcation, but I haven't seen anything convincing yet.And this doesn't surprise me. To me, science is a particularly rigorous, community-based application of `everyday' reason. `Pseudo-science' is best thought of, like `denialism', as a behaviorist description of proponents of a bad theory, not a property of the theories themselves. There is a correlation between the `badness' of a theory and those behaviors, but it's only ever a rough indicator.
You say the judge "decided he had to" as though he were imperiously arrogating some grand philosophical authority on a whim.In reality, the defendants broke the law, and claimed in their defense that they were not illegally using the apparatus of the state to promote sectarian religion, but were just "doing science". The plaintiffs called bullshit on that, and because that was what the parties were arguing about, the judge was obligated to make a ruling on the subject.It's also important to note that good jurisprudence, while it aligns with good epistemology in many ways, comes apart from it in many crucial respects where social values are involved. If a policeman kicks in your door without a warrant and takes a picture of you, red-handed and dead to rights holding a bag of cocaine, the everyday epistemology of this is open and shut. But in the epistemology of the law, the parties can spend a week discussing this event in front of a judge, but when she throws it out (as she should), then all parties are obligated to act as though they haven't the slightest clue what was in that house.The law can't and shouldn't wait for philosophy to present algorithmic demarcation criteria. Falsifiability can be an item in a multi-pronged list of criteria a judge can use to decide whether the defendants are running another scam. It's not like falsifiable/unfalsifiable was the only factor a reasonably informed spectator had to go on to decide whether these clowns were on a transparently religious crusade. The alternative is taking creationists at their word. In any epistemology, that's a losing strategy.
Q: A rock isn't alive right?A: Well, since we don't yet have a strict set of necessary and sufficient conditions to count something as alive, you can't say a rock isn't alive for sure. You probably shouldn't enter the life/non-life demarcation business.
I admire Judges. They have to take a complex subject and make a non-anonymous decision. Then, they have to justify that choice and review the criticism of making that decision. Law is as science, religion, and philosophy ought to be.
I think this was a good read. I do not think that judges should only look to the "scientific" community for definitions of science. Mr. Duffy, to an extant I agree with you. My best friend is in law school and has reached many of his opinions on science, religion, and philosophy by applying similar rules for definitions and evidence as he would in a court room. It definitely challenged me to change some of the ways in which I reach some of my opinions. BDK, I never find a thread of comments as interesting unless you are commenting on it. May I ask what you do for a living?
Anthony...I very much appreciate your comment. I am a neuroscientist by day. In fact, I'm tending to some rats right now in a Skinner box. :O
"Both are good reasons, and both were aptly given in the Dover decision by this Republican conservative judge."I think also that Jones did good decision. Jones' argument was:"After a searching review of the record and applicable caselaw, we find that while ID arguments may be true, a proposition on which the court takes no position, ID is not science."He defined science as NCSE: science is a methodology that sometimes can and sometimes cannot lead to truth. The questions whether something is science or whether something is true, are separate and they may have different answers.
As a huge believer in Intelligent Design, I agree that it is most emphatically NOT science! This is in no way a dig at ID. After all, neither is poetry science, nor art, nor Love, nor ethics. Science is merely one of the many tools we have in our toolbox to aid us in understanding the world around us - useful for some functions, inappropriate for others.To me (and I realize this is an idiosyncratic definition), science is the methodology that compels us to ask "What's the next question?" after learning something new. ID does not do this. This is especially important in the classroom. We should be striving to encourage our students to be constantly asking "What's next?" or "Now what?" I fail to see how teaching ID would do this.And, to reiterate, I say this as a person who believes ID to be true.
Oh, and by the way, I also regard ID as being completely incompatible with "Creationism". The people who use one to support the other have no idea what they are talking about.As a (now blissfully retired) manager of a huge, multiyear, and exceedingly complex program for the Department of Defense, I learned (the hard way) just what exactly is meant by the word "design". And it does not mean a one-time event, where a finished product emerges fully formed, like Athena out of Zeus's head. Voila!On the contrary, design is an iterative, trial and error, process, involving spiral development, bringing on-line by stages, review, testing, evaluation, mid-course corrections, and even backtracking and starting over! Dare I label it "evolutionary"? It can be painful, and is most certainly not neat! But the end result can be elegant, and even beautiful.The false construct of Creationism, however, shortcircuits the whole design process, and replaces it with a one-shot "bang and it's there" event. It is the very antithesis of design.
BDK...Thanks for the response. Very interesting. There are a few things I would love to be able to ask you in relation to your profession. Would I ever be able to email you? I promise I won't spam your inbox. If it sounds agreeable to you then please email me at email@example.com. If not I totally understand.
Anthony I have a neuroscience blog you can post stuff to.http://neurochannels.blogspot.comIt doesn't use my chess pseudonym.
Thanks so much. I bookmarked it. Hopefully see you on there sometime soon.
>Ug. Using dates as terms of abuse. I think this is the fallacy of chronological snobbery. Nonsense it's just really funny. I amuse myself endlessly when I say "1949 called they want their logical positivism back." to the usual suspects.BTW I stole that one from Beckwith.
I fail to understand how chronological snobbery survives. A person would be laughed out of the room, were he to argue "That's so Pennsylvania of you", but gets away with saying "How Medieval!"
"As a huge believer in Intelligent Design, I agree that it is most emphatically NOT science! This is in no way a dig at ID. After all, neither is poetry science, nor art, nor Love, nor ethics. Science is merely one of the many tools we have in our toolbox to aid us in understanding the world around us - useful for some functions, inappropriate for others."I suspect this may be a category error of some note. Science is the only tool that informs us about the natural world, about man, about nature, about the world and about the cosmos. That is the reason it is the most powerful tool of humankind in understanding our direct causal relationship in the only world that physically sustains us, and from which we can dreamily gaze out onto or imagine other scenarios [metaphysics] particular to our liking or preference.Everything else is embellishment, icing on the cake. ID is one such predilection equating to the icing, as indeed is religion, society, economics. Not to be mistaken, these are very important for organizing and systematizing society. But it illustrates the distinction between the fundaments of science investigation as being distinct and universally applicable to *all* humanity, while at the same time, accounts for why there are tens of thousands of religions, innumerable forms of economic models in operation [from barter systems to multinational organisations] and hundreds of thousands of varying takes on the kinds of societies that are successful and available.It is only in very recent times that there has been any realization that humanity is not separate and special to its environment. It is science that has demonstrated that we share the same fate as every other living creature extant on this planet. Their demise is our demise. Only science has been able to put that kind of evidence on the table. Without science, we would still be under the false impression, "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." And as one of the highest profile fundamental christian politicians in contemporary America reflected [for whom the above quotation clearly resonates in no doubt] and recently said, "Drill baby, drill". There remains a significant disconnect between what the science is telling us and what religion is telling us.No, science is not *merely* one of many tools in our toolbox. To unnecessarily conflate science with religion is a significant roadblock to improved understanding and knowledge of the human condition.
A well thought out posting, Papalinton, but I (as you probably anticipated) disagree on several points:1. No category error here. I’m not backing down from this one. Science, and even logic itself, are among many tools in our box. And just as I would not use a hammer to drive in a screw, I would not use “science” to understand Mahler’s Symphony Number 2. Yet there are important, indeed vital, truths to be found within that music - truths which can greatly enhance one’s comprehension of what it means to be a human being – truths that cannot be expressed in words (and thus the need for music), yet nevertheless as valid (perhaps even more so) as anything found in any "scientific" paper.Fiction often (?usually?) contains far deeper truths about humanity than libraries on psychology and biology. It is far more profitable to read “The Brothers Karamazov” or “The Iliad” to that end, than to read any given “scientific” treatise on human behavior. This is even more the case with myth. I know many atheists use “myth” almost like a swear word. I regard it as the highest and most profound form of literature. You and I will both agree that the story of Adam and Eve is pure fiction, but I still regard it as a storehouse of Truth about who we are, why we are here, and how things got the way they are. And these things were expressed in a far more concise and accurate manner than any imaginable non-fiction work.2. I don’t regard ID as science for the reasons I gave in my previous posts. But I still perceive the universe to be the product of design. In fact, the more I learn about the physical world around us (and I am an avid, almost compulsive reader of scientific literature – I subscribe to several science oriented journals, and follow various websites), the more the Hand of God becomes screamingly evident to me. As I have said before, I have no belief or interest in any “God of the Gaps”. I believe in the “God of the Filled In Spaces”. The more we learn, the more I see His presence. So your oft-repeated assertion that scientific advances will kill off religion is completely false, or at least so in my case. Quite the opposite.3. You wrote of the supposed “false impression [your words], "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." But Papalinton, that is merely a bald statement of fact. Look around. Like it or not, we DO have dominion over all other living things. Now what we’ve done with that dominion is shameful indeed, but have it we do. You can’t possibly argue with that!And as for Man being created in God’s image, well and good. But it is far more relevant (and important) that He took on OUR image in the Incarnation.On that thought, I'll rest. I'm shutting down my laptop for the night, and will check in tomorrow.
Yes Bob,Logic is a tool. But science, in and of itself, is not a tool. The 'scientific method' is the tool. 'Science' is the form or body of fundamental knowledge that humanity is increasingly becoming privy to. It is a work in progress and there may never be an end to it. In contrast, as a body of knowledge, the narrative of christian theism is fixed. The 66 books that constitute the fundamentals of the judeo-christian knowledge base has not budged in 1500-pus years. To conflate comparison of the two bodies of knowledge, [christian theology and science] is none other than a category error. It is rightfully appropriate that theology is of equal value as a body of knowledge compared with that of Art, Music, Literature, New-Age Spiritualism, etc, and properly so. But theology is not of equal value to that of science. They are incomparable. Science tells how to build and fly a plane. Religion tells how we can fly them into buildings.Bob, you say, "I would not use “science” to understand Mahler’s Symphony Number 2. Yet there are important, indeed vital, truths to be found within that music - truths which can greatly enhance one’s comprehension of what it means to be a human being ...."I say, I'm with you 100%. on all points raised in your comment. Indeed, Mahler's No.2 would be a disaster in terms of scientific description. And yes, they are 'truths'; but of a certain kind. And generally, one could conceivably live without Mahler's truths should people not be turned-on by his music, and continue to live fulfilled lives. But one would never wish researchers to assess the efficacy and reliability of transplant surgery at a level of 'truth' consistent with music appreciation. While it takes many years to become an expert in music appreciation, much remains in the domain of subjective interpretation of music. In that sense, the demands of science and the demands of music are a category error, equating one with the other.Science in the main, deals with fact 'truths', religion deals in many and varied truths, each according to one's own predilection or personal explanation.Bob, you say, "Look around. Like it or not, we DO have dominion over all other living things."Yes we do. But the very notion of 'dominion' infers some form of control given to us [putatively by a god] and implies being at the 'top of the heap', which is utterly misplaced and anathema to evolution and our relationship to all other living things. We live in a symbiotic relationship and our future requires that we are not regarded as special among all the species, but simply one, and all are interdependent. Dominion is a not a word wisely chosen, though it did at one time express our sovereign dominance over everything, as in scripture. The truths of theology, as the principal form of knowledge base, did not bring us to an understanding of this interdependent relationship with all living things and the environment on this planet, it was the result of the scientific truths and its attendant body of knowledge.
Further to add, Bob, you say, "You and I will both agree that the story of Adam and Eve is pure fiction, but I still regard it as a storehouse of Truth about who we are, why we are here, and how things got the way they are."As you have the right to do so, Bob. But your 'truth' is not universal. Even this theological 'truth' is open to continuing abuse, misuse, and variability with no recourse to correction or change, just as the literalists will continue to remind you. Yes, you regard it as a storehouse of truth about who we are, why we are here, and how things got the way they are, but your truth is different from many others who hold a vastly different truth. And in that case, can we continue calling it a 'truth'?That people, even modern and smart people, use myths to guide their current actions and decisions is easy and amusing to see. One of the most spectacular examples can be found in the contemporary American debate over gay marriage. Many if not most christians base their position on [opposition to] gay marriage on religious grounds, sometimes explicitly stating that "God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve." Thus, this 'first marriage' serves as a model and charter for all subsequent marriages. What is unusually hilarious about this case is the christians use the *gender* of the first couple as a charter but not any other characteristics about them: perhaps only men and women who are naked should marry each other, or perhaps men should only marry women who are made out of their rib; or perhaps men should only marry women who can hold a conversation with snakes.So, the question is, who's truth is more 'truthier' or the 'truthiest' in respect of this story?
It ain't science. And it ain't equal to science.
Papalinton,You write: "The 66 books that constitute the fundamentals of the judeo-christian knowledge".Uh, yer talkin' to a Catholic here. It's 73 books.(I'm very rushed this morning, so I'll get to the rest of your points later today. But I couldn't resist that one. Ha!)
Yes, I know of the Apocrypha. And while I did not include it in my comment [as I usually do to take into consideration the catholic perspective] I elected not to on this occasion.So, Bob, perhaps a bit of a Pyrrhic victory all in all.Cheers
Papalinton, You write: "Science is the only tool that informs us about the natural world, about man, about nature, about the world and about the cosmos."Up to your first comma, I am in total agreement with you. Science is the tool of choice for learning about the natural world. But here is where we differ. You believe that the natural world is all there is. (And that is very much a belief, whether you wish to admit it or not.) I, on the other hand, regard the natural world as merely a construct of a much larger and, as it were, "more real" world - i.e., the supernatural. And more to the point, I go along with Catholic orthodoxy that identifies Man as a body/soul union that has a foot in each realm.Science is useless as a tool to learn anything meaningful about the supernatural. All we know from that realm is from Revelation. Now since you have already ruled out the existence of the supernatural, I wouldn't expect you to accept the validity of Revelation. And I'm not asking you to (yet).But we do need to understand why we come to such very different conclusions about how we learn about and relate to Reality. First of all, we don't even agree as to what the term "Reality" encompasses. Secondly, our understanding of the nature of Man is radically different. I will loosely quote C.S. Lewis here (At least I hope it was Lewis. I'm too lazy right now to look up the exact quote.) But he said something like, "You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body - for now". I dare say I would be correct to say that you probably believe that we are a body... and nothing more.But it is precisely that body/soul union that causes me to regard "non-scientific" sources (such as poetry, art, music, mythology, etc.) as, when appropriate, superior tools in coming to an understanding of what it means to be human.And this, by the way, is why I am impatient with the faux debate about "Science versus Religion". In reality, there is no conflict whatsoever. Science is preeminent in its own realm (study of the natural world), while religion is the only game in town when it comes to apprehending the supernatural. (They overlap when studying Man.) They only appear to conflict when they muscle in on each other's turf, but the conflict is in the end illusory, and pointless.
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