Thursday, January 09, 2020

Explaining reasoning away

People rightly fear that we will interpose a God-explanation where a scientific explanation might be provided which would provide us with more prediction and control over the event in question. But in reasoning, if we interpose nonrational explanations to account for our reasoning, we are in fact explaining reasoning away. If we say that I believe in evolution because of the evidence, but then the explanation I provide for coming to hold this belief is a bunch of irrational neurons blindly following the laws of physics or acting on blind and brute quantum-mechanical chance, I am saying that in the last analysis I didn't really come to believe that evolution is true because there is good evidence that evolution is true. I cannot really say "I followed the evidence, and those creationists didn't." Both of our beliefs were caused in the same irrational way.

28 comments:

Legion of Logic said...

On a related note, antitheists love to mock Christians and say how dumb we are, yet many of them don't believe in free will. Mocking someone for something they have no choice in is pretty pathetic.

Then again, given the type of person that typically becomes an antitheist, maybe they simply can't help themselves.

One Brow said...

I cannot really say "I followed the evidence, and those creationists didn't." Both of our beliefs were caused in the same irrational way.

one way by the patterns of your electons accepting the evidence, the other way by the patterns of electrons denying the evidence.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
On a related note, antitheists love to mock Christians and say how dumb we are, yet many of them don't believe in free will. Mocking someone for something they have no choice in is pretty pathetic.

How do you feel about Gulliver's Travels?

bmiller said...

I think there are quite a few people who just cannot follow the point or understand the argument. In fact they cannot understand either side of the argument.

At that point they decide to arbitrarily choose a side and assume that everyone is doing the same thing.

Legion of Logic said...

How do you feel about Gulliver's Travels?

Never read it.

Starhopper said...

I read Gulliver's Travels once, a little more than 50 years ago in high school. Never looked at it since, and don't remember much about it. Why do you bring it up?

Victor Reppert said...

One Brow writes: one way by the patterns of your electons accepting the evidence, the other way by the patterns of electrons denying the evidence.

Evidence has nothing to do with how electrons move. They move in accordance with the laws of physics. If we accept evidence, that means that evidence has a causal role. But evidence is not among the fundamental forces that can possible affect electron motion. Therefore if our state of affirming or dissenting from evolution is determined by electron motion, then evidence is irrelevant to whether we affirm evolution or dissent from it.

bmiller said...

Victor,

I'm sure you encounter all sorts of unusual worldviews from your interactions with your students.

How has that changed over the years? Are our critical thinking skills improving or declining?

One Brow said...

Starhopper said...
I read Gulliver's Travels once, a little more than 50 years ago in high school. Never looked at it since, and don't remember much about it. Why do you bring it up?

It's an excellent example of mockery being used to educate or illustrate.

One Brow said...

Victor Reppert said...
Evidence has nothing to do with how electrons move. They move in accordance with the laws of physics. If we accept evidence, that means that evidence has a causal role. But evidence is not among the fundamental forces that can possible affect electron motion. Therefore if our state of affirming or dissenting from evolution is determined by electron motion, then evidence is irrelevant to whether we affirm evolution or dissent from it

Evidence produces physical results, in the form of light rays of different shapes and colors interacting with our photo-receptors differently, sound waves interacting with our ear drums differently, etc. Thus, evidence does affect how electrons move.

StardustyPsyche said...

Victor,
" I cannot really say "I followed the evidence, and those creationists didn't." Both of our beliefs were caused in the same irrational way."
No, not the same way, yes using the same sort of low level logic elements, but arranged differently and executed differently.

Consider a single computer made of transistors and other basic components.

Load scientific evolutionary analysis software and good data in provides good analysis out.

Load creationist "analysis" software and good data in provides garbage out.

The dumb little transistors are the made the same and act by the same characteristics either way.

bmiller said...

Who is loading the "analysis software"?

I believe the position that Victor is presenting is that we are the "computer made of transistors and other basic components" as the naturalist one.

StardustyPsyche said...

bmiller,
Not who, rather, what.

We have evolved to solve problems living in what we now consider to be "the wild". As a side effect it turns out that a computing device such as our brain that evolves to solve such problems is also capable of solving a large variety of other problems.

But not all brains are equally capable of solving such logical, rational, and analytical problems.

Given that a large majority of us agree by convention to at least provisionally accept the principles of logic some brains are better at applying those rules of logical reasoning consistently and broadly.

Brains that suffer from a lack of ability to consistently and broadly apply these conventional rules of logic and reasoning tend to invoke irrational assertions such as god or spirits or supernatural when they get stuck on difficult problems.

Brains that do not suffer from those particular inabilities to be consistent and broadly apply conventional rules of logic and reasoning self identify as atheists.










Legion of Logic said...

Brains that suffer from a lack of ability to consistently and broadly apply these conventional rules of logic and reasoning tend to invoke irrational assertions such as god or spirits or supernatural when they get stuck on difficult problems.

Brains that do not suffer from those particular inabilities to be consistent and broadly apply conventional rules of logic and reasoning self identify as atheists.


Those latter brains are great trolls to their users apparently.

Starhopper said...

"We have evolved"

Has anyone besides me noticed that you can replace "we have evolved" with "it just is" in any sentence, and it doesn't change the meaning? The invocation of evolution, regardless of whether or not it is true, adds nothing to the conversation, explains nothing, and answers no question. It's the semantic equivalent of "Because!"

StardustyPsyche said...

starhopper,
"Has anyone besides me noticed that you can replace "we have evolved" with "it just is" in any sentence,"
No, not anyone above a baseline of education, no.

Bmiller asked "who", I replied "not who, rather, what". Evolution is the what.

Evolution is not "it just is". The science of evolution is a vast body of knowledge that explains a very great deal about who and what we are.

To those uneducated in the science of evolution its invocation is meaningless.

bmiller said...

Has anyone besides me noticed that you can replace "we have evolved" with "it just is" in any sentence, and it doesn't change the meaning?

Evolutiondidit. That's all you have to know.

Starhopper said...

Or the newest variation of the "didit" fallacy: "OK, Boomer!"

bmiller said...

Wow! You're hip!

Starhopper said...

I was hip before hip was hip.

bmiller said...

That is waaaay hip.

Starhopper said...

Just got back from marching in today's MLK Parade in Baltimore. What a wonderful experience! The route was lined with thousands upon thousands of cheerful, peaceful citizens, many whole families. My own group, the Veterans for Peace, was the recipient of non-stop cheers and expressions of support from start to finish. Let me tell you, I see zero support for starting any new wars amongst the populace.

My one complaint? Why oh why didn't they make the parade route a circle? When it was all over, we had to trudge (uphill!), backtracking the entire route back to where our cars were parked.

bmiller said...

You could have contributed to the local economy by taking an Uber.

Starhopper said...

No, I couldn't. You need a smartphone to call an uber, which I don't have. I only have a "dumbphone", which is actually a phone and nothing else.

I'm still a Luddite at heart.

bmiller said...

Ooops. Guess you're not hip after all.

Starhopper said...

Depends on what you mean by "hip". After all, my flip phone is what Captain Kirk had on the original Star Trek. (I've even heard that the communicators on that show were the actual inspiration for flip phones.) And Captain Kirk is about as hip as one can get!

bmiller said...

Kirk's communicator could put him in touch with Scotty's Transporter Service. When you get that App we can talk about your hipness.

Starhopper said...

Well, there's definitely no intelligent life down here!