Friday, August 26, 2016

Relativism about evolution?

People have different beliefs about a lot of things, but in many of those cases this does not undermine the idea that there is an objective truth about it. For example, on creation and evolution, no one would suggest, on either side, that evolution is true is if you really believe it, but if you are a creationist, then that is true for you.


SteveK said...

Relating this back to your prior post about the subjective/objective false dichotomy, I would say you are wrong here - but maybe I've just misunderstood what you mean by 'evolution' and 'creation'

If we agree to "b) something about which there is a truth, but uncertainty amongst human beings as to what the truth is" why couldn't both views be considered an expression of the uncertainty of the underlying truth?

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

there is a nature of the case. But then I have say this to stay in the phenomenology party but there is a lie world, a world of our understanding that is based upon the limits of our own relation to the cultural constructs through which we interpret the world. Like Europeans had lots of hints before Columbus that there was something out there but for them the world stopped the horizon of the Atlantic.Reality is limited to our understanding, although of course its not really limited.

Victor Reppert said...

Well, I should qualify and say young earth creationism.

What I am trying to get at here is that in ethics, the fact of disagreement is an argument for relativism. In other areas where there is great disagreement, no one thinks of being a relativist.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...

But that's because, I think, with empirical matters there could be a solution factually some day, With ethics it's always going to be a mater of opinion or cultural construct, something of that nature.

oozzielionel said...

"With ethics it's always going to be a mater of opinion or cultural construct, something of that nature."

From the culture angle, a cultural construct is not the same as opinion. Our cultural constructs include laws with real world consequences. There seems to be a continuum here. On one end are which eating habits are rude. On the other end are nearly universal condemnations of some crimes. Some of the modern cultural constructs are becoming quite powerful. Ecology, cruelty to animals, and tolerance (of specific types) are moving to the important end of the continuum. The relativism of ethics is actually under attack with the imposition of new moral absolutes.

It is modernism that says "with empirical matters there could be a solution some day." This seems to have the same type of confidence as the theist who says, "there will be a solution some day to moral issues -- the judgment of God."

Steve Lovell said...

Joe's point is one that comes up quite a bit and I can't say I've ever heard it well addressed (from either side of the discussion). The idea is that in factual matters we at least have a decision procedure about how such debates could be finally settled. But this is thought not to be the case with ethical issues.

But clearly this oversimplifies. The problem isn't that we lack a decision procedure in ethics, but that we've got lots of them and don't know which to use. (Is there a higher order decision process to help us choose between them?) And once that point is made it becomes less clear that the contrast between ethical and admittedly factual matters is so stark. There are plenty of people out there who don't agree with "expert opinions" on how factual questions are to be settled. So it starts to seem as though "having decisions procedures" turns out to mean "having decision procedures I can get on board with".

Joe, if you want to defend "factualness" of some questions but not those in ethics, how do you approach this? I ask this as a genuine question. I've got some sympathy with the position you're gesturing towards (I disagree with it, but I can see the attraction), so I'm genuinely interested in your response, or that of others who think in a similar way.