Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Let science decide?

In response to Ed Babinski:

Ed: There is a sense in which I maintain that it would be a violation of naturalism to say that an atom can be affected by higher level configurations, since the physical level is, according to my defintion of naturalism, the physical is causally closed. On the other hand, certainly certain cells will be more likely to exist in virtue of the fact that they are part of a system that exhibits fitness to survive, and my argument is not about that. What I think doesn't work is a gradualist bridge between the nonintentional and the intentional. Add up the nonintentional all you want, and the information cannot entail anything about what intentional state exists.

Don't jump to the end of the argument. Lewis thought, for instance, that the mind was divinely illuminated, but his argument, by his own admission, is consistent with Absolute Idealism and Pantheism. He himself accepted a theistic account, but the AFRs, strictly speaking, don't prove that theism is the only answer. These essays are by an Absolute Idealist, Daniel Hutto.
http://www.herts.ac.uk/humanities/philosophy/dh.html

When I hear people say "Let science figure it out, I often wonder if the relevant conception of science would ever permit us to find out that dualism is true if it is in fact true. According to many forms of methodogical naturalism; the very forms of methodological naturalism that are used to argue that ID is pseudoscientific, if dualism were true we would never know that scientifically, because science ceases to be science once it appeals to that kind of entity. "Our commitment to materialism," says Lewontin, "is absolute." So saying "Let science decide" ends up being a "heads I win, tails you lose game." If the analysis of the brain gives is an adequate account of intentionality, hurray for naturalism. If it fails to produce an adequate account of intentionality, it can take out a promissory note. What could possibly falsify a materialist account of the mind?

11 comments:

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
There is a sense in which I maintain that it would be a violation of naturalism to say that an atom can be affected by higher level configurations, since the physical level is, according to my defintion of naturalism, the physical is causally closed.


I think that is one of the points Ed was trying to make: you definition (or maybe it is your understanding) of naturalism is flawed. Naturalists don't believe in the kind of naturalism you are fightnig so Quixotically against.

To be honest, I don't even know what you mean by your statement that an atom can't be affected by higher level configurations. And I am really baffled by your claim that this follows from the idea that the physical is causally closed. ???

Ed gave several examples showing how atoms and molecules and organs, etc., can be affected by higher level configurations. How can you so blithely ignore this and seemingly claim that you (the anti-naturalist) have true insight into what it means to be a naturalist?

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
According to many forms of methodogical naturalism; the very forms of methodological naturalism that are used to argue that ID is pseudoscientific, if dualism were true we would never know that scientifically, because science ceases to be science once it appeals to that kind of entity


ID is a psuedoscience because it fails to provide any theories explaining how something works in this world. All ID needs to do to become credible is provide some testable answers to how questions. Given their claim that life was designed by an intelligent agent, I'm surprised the ID'ers haven't set up a lab in order to demonstrate how it is possible to design life.

Substance dualism could be known scientifically if a testable model could be devised that explains how this mental substance is able to act upon or interact with the brain.

Methodological naturalism is employed in science because it works. It's really that simple.

By the way, what are these 'many forms of methodological naturalism'? I am only aware of one.

Victor Reppert said...

What I was referring when I was talking about higher order confiugration was the doctrine of the causal closure of the physical. This is a doctrine formulated by naturalists, not by me. If the higher level configurations are really physical configurations, then what the atom does is a function of the total physical state of the world. I'm not sure what you mean by higher level. What is clear is that if you know the positons of the basic stuff and the laws the govern them, then you know everything you need to know to predict what the atoms are going to do. It doesn't matter what the macrosystems are called. On the other hand, if the so-called higher-order states are physical states writ large, then the claim that they cannot be affected by higher order states would be false.

In other words, if somehow the laws governing an electon change in virtue of it being part of a brain, as opposed to its being part of a tree or part of a rock, this would be a kind of emergence that would not be accepted by orthodox physicalists.

Victor Reppert said...

IDers have mathematical models for detecting design. The claim their claim is testable, and that it could be refuted if, for example, Darwinists could explain the emergence of the bacterial flagellum.

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
What I was referring when I was talking about higher order confiugration was the doctrine of the causal closure of the physical. This is a doctrine formulated by naturalists, not by me.


To repeat, I don't understand at all how you are making a connection between the causal closure of the physical and the view that higher physical configurations cannot impact and change lower ones. This is certainly not anything I believe in as a nturalist.
When atoms form molecules and molecules macromolecules, when molecules and macromolecules form cells, when cells form organs and organs bodies there are new physical properties that emerge at each level. And the higher levels will impact and change the behavior at the lower levels, as activity at the lower levels can impact and change behavior at higher levels. If my body fails to take in the proper nourishment that is going to impact my organs, the cells and molecules

If the higher level configurations are really physical configurations, then what the atom does is a function of the total physical state of the world. I'm not sure what you mean by higher level.

As should be apparent by now, an organ is at a higher level than a cell. Molecules are at a higher level than atoms. Etc., etc.


What is clear is that if you know the positons of the basic stuff and the laws the govern them, then you know everything you need to know to predict what the atoms are going to do.

It most certainly is not clear to me. Do you have any proof for such a claim?

It doesn't matter what the macrosystems are called. On the other hand, if the so-called higher-order states are physical states writ large, then the claim that they cannot be affected by higher order states would be false.

Aren't organs and cells physical states?
And I agree it doesn't matter what macrosystems are called. What matters is how they organize the elements composing them. It also matters what macro-macrosystems they are a part of.

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
IDers have mathematical models for detecting design. The claim their claim is testable, and that it could be refuted if, for example, Darwinists could explain the emergence of the bacterial flagellum.


Does that ID mathematical model tell how the bacterial flagellum was designed by thie intelligent designer?
If it doesn't why are you knocking the evolutionist for not being able to answer how it was designed by natural selection?

If you are going to judge the merits of ID and evolutionary theories than you need to ask them the same questions and see which is able to provide the best answers.

Victor Reppert said...

Look, it just isn't my position that macrosystems are irrelevant. What I hold is that naturalists should maintain that physics is closed, but it isn't part of my argument that the macrosystem of which it is a part is irrelevant. The laws of physics have to be the same regardless of the macrosystem, but that's it. Nothing more complicated than that.

Victor Reppert said...

I think we can settle the question of whether something is the result of intelligent design without knowing how the designer did it. For example, researchers knew perfectly well that smoking causes cancer (based on statistical evidence) before they had any idea by what mechanisms the cancer was caused.

If it was an omnipotent designer that did the designing, then I take it the designer did it through the exercise of omnipoent power. Darwinism claims there was a process, intelligent design does not assert that there was a process, so therefore they don't have to explain what the process was. But it could have been a process; offhand, I don't see how ID can rule out the possibility that the design comes from advanced space aliens who evolved on another planet. People who believe that biological systems are the result of design can call that one based on what they consider to be antecedently probable. Theistic design theorists will attribute it to God, atheistic design theorists will have to find something other than God to explain it.

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
I think we can settle the question of whether something is the result of intelligent design without knowing how the designer did it.


The original question is not whether or not something is the result of intelligent design but how did the bacterial flagellum come to be. So far evolutionsts have not been able to come up with an answer to that question. Saying the flagellum was created by a supernatural being does not answer the question either. If ID can't answer that particular question then it can't be used to replace evolutionary theory for not being able to answer it.
The same standards have to be applied to both theories to evalutate them fairly and honestly.

For example, researchers knew perfectly well that smoking causes cancer (based on statistical evidence) before they had any idea by what mechanisms the cancer was caused.

I think actually supports the evolutionary case. We can know the causes of things without understanding the mechanisms involved.
To rephrase you example: evolutionary scientists know perfectly well that the bacterial flagellum was caused by evolutionary processes (based on all the other empirical, statistical and historical evidence for evolution) but we still don't know the exact mechanism.

As your example so well illustrates, not presently knowing the mechanism for how something works is no excuse for intruducing a supernaturlistically based explanation.
We still are not sure of the exact mechanisms by which smoking causes cancer. How much more time are we going to give science to provide us with this answer? Shouldn't we realize that if the answer hasn't been found after all the time and money so far spent that the link between smoking and cancer is not a physical process but the resul of an omnipotent being who hates smoking?

If it was an omnipotent designer that did the designing, then I take it the designer did it through the exercise of omnipoent power. Darwinism claims there was a process, intelligent design does not assert that there was a process, so therefore they don't have to explain what the process was.

Are you sure about that? ID really asserts that there was no physical process involved in bringing about the flagellum? If so, I would really like to see them testify to that effect when the lawsuits involving the teaching of ID in school reach the courts.

But it could have been a process; offhand, I don't see how ID can rule out the possibility that the design comes from advanced space aliens who evolved on another planet.

Of course ID can't rule out whether or not it is a process, it gives us no useful information on which to to so. If it can't rule out a process then it can't even rule out whether or not it is the result of unintelligent design. ID really tells us nothing about the bacterial flagellum, let alone how it got here.



People who believe that biological systems are the result of design can call that one based on what they consider to be antecedently probable. Theistic design theorists will attribute it to God, atheistic design theorists will have to find something other than God to explain it.


What you are advocating here is that people should practice science in accordance with their preconceived religious views.
To apply this to your smoking example above: Theistic scientists can attribute the effects of smoking on lung cancer to the act of some omnipotent being. They don't need to understand the physical mechanism to explain the cancer casuing process. God with His omnipotent powers simply chooses to smite a large numbre of smokers with cancer. And He probably does this because he wants to discourage people from doing something evil like smoking. While atheistic scientists will have to struggle with trying to find the mechanism by which smoking causes cancer. Which method do you think is going to be of value to our knowledge of the causes and cures of lung cancer?

I really don't get why you have so much trouble understanding that ID theory as a pseudo-science??? It is just a way to reintroduce pre-scientific explanations into science. You don't have to worry aboout being able to explain how something works, simply attribute it to a divine, omnipotent being - at least if you are a theistic scientist.

Ahab said...

Victor wrote:
The laws of physics have to be the same regardless of the macrosystem, but that's it. Nothing more complicated than that.


So does that macrosystem, the brain, violate any of the laws of physics because it exhibits that emergent property commonly referred to as mind?
If you are unable to confirm such a violation, then I don't understand why you think the fact that all physical effects having a prior physical history is a stumbling bock to the naturalist's view that mind is a natural part of the universe.

It is certainly a stumbling block to the dualist's position because they so far have no credible mechanism for explaining how this supposed mental substance can interact with the physcial substance of the brain without violating the conservation of energy.

dfadf said...

Microsoft Office
Office 2010
Microsoft Office 2010
Office 2010 key
Office 2010 download
Office 2010 Professional
Microsoft outlook
Outlook 2010
Windows 7
Microsoft outlook 2010