Ruse on Kitzmiller v. Dover

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There is a short list of people whose written opinions on Kitzmiller v. Dover I am particularly interested in seeing. One of them was Michael Ruse, whose review of the decision was just published in this month’s issue of Science & Spirit magazine.

Michael Ruse (2005). “Two Cheers for Darwin.” Science & Spirit, March/April 2006.

Ruse was the philosopher of science in the famous 1981 McLean v. Arkansas case where “creation science” was declared unconstitutional. As we went through the trial in Kitzmiller, the historical resonances between the two cases became more and more pronounced – and that was before Robert Gentry pitched up in Harrisburg in the last week of the trial.

Ruse approves in particular of the philosophy of science in Judge Jones’s opinion. Reading between the lines I think he is giving Rob Pennock a big compliment for threading the needle between being too “demarcationist” (which is what Ruse was accused of, unfairly in my view, by another philosopher, Larry Laudan, in an article which ID/creationists have quoted hundreds of times since – see also Ruse’s reply), while also not falling into the “anything goes” trap that many vehement anti-demarcationists end up with.

57 Comments

It’s a little late and after my last lengthy exchange on the utility of the term “Darwinism”, let me just chime in here for a minute with a partial defense of Laudan.

I doubt it was your intention-but-you note that Laudan is cited extensively by creationists. I think you should say that he is miscited by creationists. Again, while I do not think it was your intent, you give the impression that Laudan is giving aid and comfort to creationists while he mist definitely is not.

Laudan is an important figure in epistemological and ontological debates, and notably, an anti-relativist. I happen to think that he missed some important points in his essay on the original Aguilar decision. That said, he did make several important points.

1. It is unfair to say that creation science is non-science because it deals in non-falsifiables. In fact, Laudan’s argument is that creation science deals in falsifiables and in so far as any thing can be truly, completely falsified, creation science has been falsified. Thus Laudan viewed creation science not as non-science but as junk science.

2. Laudan argued that to rely exclusively on Popper for one’s demarcation criteria is too narrow. Laudan, like a lot of other classical pragmatists argues that the line between science and non-science is a continuum-not a thick bright line.

3. He argued that there is no agreed upon criterion of demarcation.

4. He supported the outcome in Aguilar. He just said that it was reached by the wrong conclusion. But he stated very clearly that no secular purpose was served by teaching junk science.

I don’t agree entirely with Laudan on the demarcation issue. One critical point I think he missed is the need to demarcate for reasons of scientific testimony. Also, he missed the distinction between science as a specific subject matter and a more general scientific approach to knowledge.

Laudan remains an important figure in modern epistemological debates and falls squarely in the anti-rorty camp by supporting the enterprise of epistemology. He also has written important works demolishing standard relativist canards.

If you want to understand Laudan you have to put him in the context of the revival of classical (Piercean-non-rortian) pragmatism. Like any philosopher he is not beyond criticism.

Again, while it probably was not your intent to suggest he gives aid and comfort to the creationist cause, if one did not know the whole context, one could easily misunderstand Laudan by reading this diary.

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I suppose we should all be grateful to Ruse for his long-standing opposition to creationism, but I confess he’s been annoying me a great deal recently. What I find particularly distasteful is his tendency to lump Social Darwinism together with the thought of people like Dennett and Dawkins under the rubric of ‘evolutionism’. That’s an association an honest adversary would be careful not to make.

So how did his correspondence with Dennett end up on ‘Uncommon Dissent’?

Sorry, but I just can’t get too excited about what Ruse, or any philosopher, thinks about anything.

I mean, I’m out there doing science every day and Ruse is out there trying to imagine what I’m thinking when I’m doing science.

Well, I’ll save him the time and effort.

When I’m really engrossed in a project and inspiration is about to strike, I’m most likely thinking, “Whoa, that chick is totally hot. I wonder if she’s into geeks?”

Philosophers, who needs ‘em?

Doc Bill Right on!! The funniest thing is…when did you last hear of a female philosopher? If anyone mentions Ayn Rand I’m gonna scream.

Bastard!!!! aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh!

Ayn Rand is a philosopher in *precisely* the same sense, and to *precisdly* the same level of intellectual rigor, as William Dembski is a mathematician.

pfeh. Shirley Knott Objectivism is both true and unique. Unfortunately, where it is true, it is not unique. Where it is unique it is not true.

Given the blatant dismissal of philosophy and female philosophers, I’m quite frankly not sure it’s worth my time to bother to post.

But for the record and off the top of my head I can think of two prominent and well known female philosophers:

Martha Nussbaum and Susan Haack.

The 1982 linked articles are in JSTOR, which is such a tease. I can get the first part only of each article. Anyway it’s clear that Laudan misses a point that the Judge got right. Laudan says creationism is falsifiable because creatioinists make various false statements. Of course they do. It’s their ultimate claim is not falsifiable.

It is also clear that a perfect “demarkation” is not needed to recognize some cases of science and some cases of non-science. Finally, putting hypotheses to the most stringent tests available is simply what scientists do, regardless of what is in philosophical favor.

Given the blatant dismissal of philosophy and female philosophers, I’m quite frankly not sure it’s worth my time to bother to post.

I’m with Chip on this one. You shoot yourself in the foot for credibility when, at the same time you are arguing for the validity of evolution based on the merits of the argument and the rigors of a process, you dismiss someone in a related field for an irrelevant stereotypical reason.

Philosophy is measured on the merits of the argument, not the gender of the proponent. Or should we rule out all studies by female biologists?

Doc Bill:

Philosophers may not get you excited, but they are the ones who are the best at picking apart the arguments and exposing the facts and the flaws coming from all sides.

You may prefer your unreflective approach to your field (I’m sure you do fine work), but to dismiss those who are more careful about these issues and are more intellectually curious seems very odd. I mean, what the heck do you think has been going on here at PT all this time???

Mike Z, Hits a little close to home? But you are right, we are not really discussing the scientific merits of ID. That would be a short discussion. We are discussing the logical, moral, and ontological fallout from the ID Wedge strategy. That is why so many “Holy Wars” erupt. Because the continuum of those elements includes specific beliefs. General beliefs really don’t fall into that continuum because they aren’t defined but specific beliefs that don’t stand up to scrutiny have to be modified aand modified etc. until they do stand up to scrutiny. And people get uppity when their beliefs are challenged. I feel fortunate to have very few beliefs that aren’t subject to modification. THe more of those you have, in my experience, the more fun you are to other people who might poke at you simply for the “practical joke value”. And the more defensive you need to be.

OK I’ll bite.

1.I can’t think of a single instance where any philosophy as practised in academia contributed to a scientific discovery. (note: Context for science in this case; as in the explaining nature/reality not industry)

2.On female philosophers; That almost sounds like an oxymoron, however the womens rights movement probably was helped by postmodernism which if anything ‘feminised’ the male dominated feild of philosophy and social sciences , it’s a pity you couldn’t name a few more. When one of them does a “Sokal” then maybe everyone who claims to be a philosopher will leave explaining nature to scientists and they can go back and fix the mess they made of academic culture/religion/ethics.

3.Steve Fuller.

Mike Z I wish I could agree with you but sadly you are just plain wrong on the point.

but they are [philosophers] the ones who are the best at picking apart the arguments and exposing the facts and the flaws coming from all sides.

All sides ? I won’t mention Steve Fuller again.…dang

In Dover essentially a few honest men stood up and just presented the facts, they were Lawyers coached by Biologists who I am guessing have varying philosophical and religious world views and the other side were found to be for the most part blatant liars. Luckily an honest Judge was presiding.

BWE - Close to home indeed (actually more like right in my living room). I am a biologist-turned-science teacher-turned-philosopher and enjoy the overlap between fields.

k.e. - You have some presuppositions about philosophy that do not really hold up. If you are really interested in finding female philosophers, then feel free to do the research yourself. Here is a fun place to start: http://www.epistemelinks.com/Main/MainProf.aspx

You may be correct that postmodernism (when labeled as philosophy) does include more women than, say, metaphysics or phil of language. But to say that “female philosopher” strikes you as oxymoronic makes you sound ignorant. Just as it would if you had said the same thing about “female scientist” in the 1980s.

As for the Kitz. decision, you are correct that scientists were there to testify as to the scientific issues. However, the exposure of ID as necessarily non-scientific because it necessarily includes a non-testable divine agent comes from philosophical reasoning. Maybe scientists can do it, but it is still philosophy, not science.

And, finally, as to the contributions of philosophers to science, perhaps my above comments are relevant here as well. But for separate examples, I suggest reading up on the influence of people such as Aristotle, Descartes, Francis Bacon, Kant, Hume, and Karl Popper, to name only a small but influential few. Also, if you read the history of the development of physics, you will notice quite a lot of philosophical work being done by scientists such as Einstein, Bohr, and others.

1.I can’t think of a single instance where any philosophy as practised in academia contributed to a scientific discovery.

I’ve gone through several iterations of responses to this trying to capture my abject shock at reading this line, and none of them seem to accomplish that.

I find that statement to be apallingly ignorant of history and fact. Without philosophy, and philosophers asking questions like “What kinds of knowledge can we have?” and “How can we be sure we know things”, we would not even have the modern scientific method! The entire driving force behind overturning the call-to-authority / divine-inspiration paradigm of the middle ages was philosophy.

To wit, it should also be notable that many notable scientists were also philosophers of science (Bacon, Newton, etc), and to dismiss the entire field of philosophy with such a comment cannot help but remind me of Behe dismissing the entire stack of evidence falsifying IC with a wave of his hand at Dover. We’ve seen how well that worked out.

2.On female philosophers; That almost sounds like an oxymoron, however the womens rights movement probably was helped by postmodernism which if anything ‘feminised’ the male dominated feild of philosophy and social sciences , it’s a pity you couldn’t name a few more. When one of them does a “Sokal” then maybe everyone who claims to be a philosopher will leave explaining nature to scientists and they can go back and fix the mess they made of academic culture/religion/ethics.

Wow. Chauvenistic much, k.e.? I doubt this will bother you, but that sort of blanket statement has demolished any credibility you had in my eyes. Would you care to make the same statement about black philosophers, perhaps? Asian? Those who don’t share your religious views?

I’d be very curious to know what our resident female scientists and/or philosophers would have to say about this statement…

Maybe Tara Smith would care to comment?

Yes AD I had picked that up, on rereading I saw that I didn’t make clear both male and female philosophers need to fix the problems of “reality relativism” in the last statement. I was going to post a correction but thought it would be interesting to see what would happen.

On the Oxymoron thing that was an ironic dig at male solipsism .…I’m sorry if that was not obvious.

On your shock at reading the first statement I can only imagine what you would think of this. “Pseudoscience and Postmodernism: Antagonists or Fellow-Travelers?” .

Further I imagine that shock was the same that the Cardinals imagined they would experience when the music of the spheres stopped if they looked through Galileo’s telescope .…remember to them that was reality.…ahh even though they couldn’t hear it.

I’m currently reading this

http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/[…]inal_rev.pdf

Let me know what you think

BWE writes:

We are discussing the logical, moral, and ontological fallout from the ID Wedge strategy. That is why so many “Holy Wars” erupt. Because the continuum of those elements includes specific beliefs. General beliefs really don’t fall into that continuum because they aren’t defined but specific beliefs that don’t stand up to scrutiny have to be modified aand modified etc. until they do stand up to scrutiny.

I am curious, BWE, what separates general from specific beliefs? What scrutiny must these beliefs pass in order to be considered…what…valid? confirmed? true? warranted? I would also be interested to know the criterion you have in mind here to separate beliefs that have passed scrutiny from those that haven’t, and why that criterion is the right one for everyone. It seems from the way you describe this scrutinization process that the belief that the process itself is valid would also need to be scrutinized, making this a rather difficult endeavor.

Ha! I mean that If I say that God is something, then I am making a claim which might potentially be subject to scrutiny. But if I merely claim that god is, then there is no real debate. The scrutiny would be first logic and second experimentation or other forms of direct evidence.

These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philisophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.

ID presents a challenge to a “scientific” way of thinking that demands verifiability. They support themselves by using PR and advertising techniques (sophism?)fueled by huge sums of money. It is a little bit shocking to have someone come up and say “you are wrong because I don’t want you to be right.”, when you make a business out of testing hypotheses and demanding evidence to support your conclusions.

Lenny is on point with his message that ID is religion- A political frame of reference. NSCE folks are on point that ID is not science. Raging Bee is on point with,… well, scratch that last one, and I try to stay on point with the absurdity of the ID PR machine. You might find several on point arguments but it is largely a debate over a philosophical point of view that truth in terms of the material world is largely objective and verifiable.

Wow, I think that might be a little convoluted.

Oops, forgot this: THe “holy wars” tend to be about the nature of truth.

k.e. - Whew.

Anyway, just to make things clearer, it is not the case that academic philosophy is all about postmodernism and full-blown relativism. There are some departments that still cling to those notions, but as far as I can tell, they are in the minority. In contemporary academic (analytic) philosophy, there are far more allies of science (against ID) than you may realize.

Mike

Yes a non testable divine agent… the one I presume Job was talking about in the Old Testament when he decided he would put his own conscience above “The One True Word of God”. To say that is a recent development is just nonsense. We do have lot to be grateful for Greco-Roman law which separated church and state otherwise we would have Judaic/Sharia law. But to say philosophy or any constructed social text has any observable effect on natural reality is wishful thinking. If that were the case creationism would not exist. It is ALL world view.

A scientist is observing history (each moment past is history) to make reliable predictions about the future, nothing more. No predictions no science.

The only reason Dembski and crew assign any value to Popper is because he took Pascals wager, otherwise they would completely discount “false” as …well false. That is why they don’t like Darwin. If Darwin died as a repentant monk they would just shift the blame to someone else.

The causes for a persons concrete inflexible world view may be able to be completely deconstructed through neuroscience and studies of early childhood development and thus the causes for subsequent psychological problems that lead to cognitive errors or false beliefs, however meta-physics (literally meaning after-nature) is a convenient “after the fact” explanation and its connection with reality depends more on a persons cultural history and personality than any synthesized thought system.

Look at Dr Miller, he is being accused on UCD as being practically an atheist WHY because the Creationists ACTUALLY know that for god to exist it/he/she MUST ACTUALLY EXIST and they are applying the scientific method to something that does not exist, except in their own minds.

Until philosophers get off their asses and actually say the obvious then they are irrelevant cowards.Oh … that’s right it’s not politically correct and the Inquisition will get you. Time to wake up it may be too late.

Unless you run a church of course. Who was it that said “Give me the boy until he is 7 years old and I will give you the man”

k.e. - You are all over the place on that one, and perhaps I’m dense, but I do not see how anything you wrote connects to anything I wrote. (I’m assuming, of course, that you intended to address my comments).

…Except for the part about observation and prediction. Observations, no matter how careful or precise, cannot entail any predictions. It takes a thinking being working with a theory (or hypothesis) to generate predictions from observations. Plus, that is definitely NOT all that scientists are doing. They are also trying to develop comprehensive causal explanations for phenomena, not just predict them. Such explanations require a lot of reasoning beyond mere observations.

Mike Yes of course I shortened the story and left out the real work of deduction, hypothesis, test, change hypothesis, Theory construction. The point I was trying to make was that communicating an idea is best done with the least possible number of words that will work in all world views.

That is pretty hard to do because each side of the fence can potentially draw completely opposite conclusions.

Strangely Dembski in his headlong rush to complete as many book sales as possible before the free publicity dries up, says he is trying to do just that, unify religion and science…sort of a starry eyed Platonism and snake oil theory. But in his case it is just simple right wing politics with a thin veneer of Sesquipedalian Obscurantism ** and rabble rousing.

Actually religious/theological/philosophical obscurantism is the whole modus operandi of the ID/fundamentalist political movement.

I just re-read my “simple test” to identify real science and non-science. I’m getting tired now so… did I say “predicting the future” …dang. It’s not as quite as simple as that.…I’ll give it a rest.

**http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A640207

k.e. - You are most likely correct in your assessment of Dembski. But I still do not see what this has to do with my defense of philosophy. Are we agreeing or disagreeing? (and I probably need a nap too.)

Mike, you’re the philosophy guy, am I close to the mark with my last 2 comments?

Mike Z,

Apologetics to all! I am merely the Bard of Bromide, the Prince of Parody, the Sultan of Satire, if you get the point of my witt, jonathan-wise, that is.

Alas, my hot chick days are a legend in my own mind, however, I recently read an article proposing that humor was a highly favorable trait to women selecting mates, over dimpled cheeks and 6-pack abs. So, yea me, score 1.

As for female philosophers, let us not forget the Queen of Qwitzmiller, Barbara Forrest! We all owe her a debt of gratitude and that’s the last serious comment you’ll get out of me.

“Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relationship to one another as masturbation and sexual intercourse.”

– K Marx

BWE – Geez, I’m flattered that I have suddenly been elected as the judge of good philosophy. Someone should probably demand a recount.

Anyway, I certainly liked your first comment on this thread. And in the second one, your distinction between claims of God’s existence vs. claims about God’s characteristics seems (to me) to be on the mark.

Now, what is the nature of truth? I dunno, but it would seem odd to require that only scientifically verifiable facts be accepted as true, and even odder that any non-verifiable stuff be admitted as science. I have no idea if that helps…

Rev Dr. –

With that passage, I have always wondered if Marx was denouncing philosophy or praising it.

Doc Bill you forgot Prick(er) of Pride and Loather of Fear

K.E.

I fail to see your point. After reading the articles you linked to by Sokal, I can only conclude you are confused.

Sokal’s articles are an exercise in philosophy, and a rather good exercise at that.

One might wish to pay attention to whom Sokal cites approviingly-note-Larry Laudan and Susan Haack.

Sokal winds up making much the same point that Laudan made in the essay linked to in the entry that has served as the basis for this non-discussion.

I feel like a character in a Monty Python sketch:

“This isn’t an argument-it’s a dispute”.

Chip

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams (Hamlet 2.2.258-60).

I’m not trying to make you feel like the poor sod in the MP sketch although my natural skepticism may be showing through. The Monty Python sketch which I remember watching in the early ‘70’s was of a guy who wanted to purchase an argument with a ‘practitioner’ in an institution that politely provided a whole range of ‘services’ including insults for a fee, much the same as college or more likely a brothel with 2 people rooms. A comedy of manners ensues when the ‘customer’ points out that the ‘provider’ is merely contradicting and not actually moving toward a mutually agreed conclusion; that is to say an agreed world view where their differences are explained to each other by way of dialog and a willingness to understand how each other thinks. Effectively the provider is in a more powerful position and even though he is bored, uninterested and seemingly not as genuine as the dupe, he gets away with a shoddy service. Of course since it is a service, the provider can decide to change the rules any time he likes for any reason and after stringing out the dupe until “times up” he decides the ‘session’ is over even though the customer wants to pay to continue, which inevitably they argue about.(all from memory BTW) The parallel with society today is more chilling than funny.

Actually the MP phenomenon was an interesting arc to follow. I was born in the mid 50’s and at around 7 or 8 listened to the Goon Show, which at the time was quite radical, particularly the completely absurdist play with language which I later found had similarities to the Dada movement in Europe in the interwar years.The Dadaists were far more radical and an integral part of performing art in the Weimar Republic. The whole concept of what reality was, had radically changed in those years and the parallel between art and science found new expression in a host of players. Magritte with Ceci n’est pas une pipe, Dali with his melting clocks, DuChamp with his Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors/The Large Glass which (again being cynical)pretty much sums up the state of philosophy since time immemorial.

Now my “point” if any is that all you need to know about philosophy can be learnt from Monty Python Themes in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy as Reflected in the Work of Monty Python http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~ebarnes/p[…]n/python.htm

The MP crew broke the rules and I believe were much appreciated in the US but the famous quote by Churchill that England and The US “are a people separated by a common language is still true today witness “Borat”. http://www.webgeordie.co.uk/borat/guidetousa2.htm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borat

Take the Clintonian definition of “IS”, you guys have a lot to answer for.

Clinton a Rhodes scholar, I assume would have had to conjugate his Latin verbs to get through school and would have been quietly laughing up his sleeve when he actually changed the definition of the word “exists” in a manner Orwell would have been in awe of. Lying on a grand scale that even Goebbels would have admired. In a 10 second sound byte the most powerful country on the planet has it’s public view of reality subtly changed forever. Talk about etiolated that IS changing language and meaning into second hand chewing gum. This is not an overnight phenomenon the fundamentalist rats have been gnawing at the tree of enlightenment for some time, strangely they are both the figure heads of capitalism who want history destroyed so people forget what being human might actually be and the wage slaves who are fed up with modernism.

Here is a hint for those at sea about what the “truth” might be (is) —the opposite of lying.

Now the fundies (and most religious fellow travelers)are well aware of this, in their universe the the existence of an actual real god is as REAL as an actual dog. So anyone who does NOT see the world the way they do is BY DEFINITION a liar. Ironic isn’t it?

NOW do you see why the so-called mainstream churches want them out of science ? And guess what ? The Fundies KNOW they are right because their reality is unquestionable. God exists and everyone including so called theists are liars, all they have to do is find the afterbirth.

Bah change hats Now my “point” if any is that all I needed to know about philosophy I learnt from Monty Python

These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philisophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.

ID presents a challenge to a “scientific” way of thinking that demands verifiability. They support themselves by using PR and advertising techniques (sophism?)fueled by huge sums of money. It is a little bit shocking to have someone come up and say “you are wrong because I don’t want you to be right.”, when you make a business out of testing hypotheses and demanding evidence to support your conclusions.

Meaning that the “scientific” POV tends to view truth through this lens and, right or wrong, it is in opposition to the way the fundies see truth which I think k.e. just eloquently stated with:

Now the fundies (and most religious fellow travelers)are well aware of this, in their universe the the existence of an actual real god is as REAL as an actual dog. So anyone who does NOT see the world the way they do is BY DEFINITION a liar. Ironic isn’t it?

eloquence?

k.e. wrote that “truth is the opposite of lying”

Harry Frankfurt wrote a nice little book called “On Bullshit” that partly addresses your claim. He argues that a liar is someone who has the truth in sight and is specifically trying to lead us away from it. A bullshitter, on the other hand, has no specific concern for the truth, and is instead just spewing semi-plausible nonsense (c.f. “truthines”) or is just trying to muddy the waters with rhetoric until we lose track of what is supposed to count as the truth–all in an effort to make himself “win” in some abstract way.

I suspect that many of the people you are annoyed by are actually bullshitters rather than liars.

Mike Ha! True. The Fundies are victems of the Nobel Lie and can’t help themselves.

Obscurantism on the otherhand is a different kettle of fish. They do it with malevolence. The end justifies the means otherwise known as the “Adolf Eichmann” defense.

K.E.,

To paraphrase Keynes: Those who claim immunity from philosohers of science are often distilling the wisdom of some defunct philosopher of science.

But don’t forget the philosopher song…

“oohhhh-Socrates himself is particularly missed- a very fine fellow but a bugger when he’s pissed.”

These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philisophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.

Um, the claim that truth is that which can be verified cannot itself be verified. That observation was the downfall of logical positivism. And we have Godel’s proof that every consistent set of formal axioms (of a certain minimal level of complexity) have true but unprovable implications. For a more detailed exploration of the question “What is truth?”, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth

“Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relationship to one another as masturbation and sexual intercourse.” — K Marx

Oh yeah, the most influential political philosopher who ever lived.

Popper’s Ghost– Good point about the logical positivists.

But instead of Wikipedia, here is a generally more reliable (and also free) source for a summary of the philosophy of truth.

http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html#t

I guess you didn’t notice that the “external links” section of the Wikipedia article links to the Standford articles – among others.

About female philosophers – uh, anyone at PT ever hear of Barbara Forrest?

I can also think of Patricia Churchland, Valerie Hardcastle, and Mary Midgley off the top of my head.

Poppers Ghost,

Um, the claim that truth is that which can be verified cannot itself be verified. That observation was the downfall of logical positivism. And we have Godel’s proof that every consistent set of formal axioms (of a certain minimal level of complexity) have true but unprovable implications. For a more detailed exploration of the question “What is truth?”, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth

No shit. I like salad too. Now, would you like to make a statement relative to my statement which you quoted?

These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philisophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.

And even further with this idea, that is why it’s fun. If you wish to do some self examination to determine why it is that you, and almost every one of the folks who would post here, do view truth as some kind of amalgomation of evidence and verifiability, go ahead. Me personally, I’m OK with it. Go ahead and do your philosophy thogh. It is fun. Especially Kant. Woo hoo. YOu want some real philosophy go read Kant. His stuff is real page turner stuff. Or try to figure out the real riddle of seeing god through morality. Read Crime and Punishment and come up with a better summary than :”Man kills old woman. Man feels bad.” See, I’m that shallow. THat’s all I see in it. But man, I can read Schoenberg all day long. THe point is, my dear freinds… Stay tuned for tomorrow’s broadcast of “Philosophy Today”

Some other female philosophers: Janice Dowell, Susan Hurley, Barbara Montero, Karen Bennett, Diana Raffman, Jane Heal, Cynthia MacDonald, Katalin Balog, Sophie Allen, Amy Kind, Julia Tanney, Naomi Eilan, Brie Gertler, Isabel Góis, Eva Picardi, Teresa Marques, Kathrin Glüer, Célia Teixeira, Genoveva Marti, Marta Campdelacreu, Esther Romero, Maria Frapolli,Ã…sa Wikforss, Adriana Silva Graça, …

Now, would you like to make a statement relative to my statement which you quoted?

I believe that “the claim that truth is that which can be verified cannot itself be verified” was such a statement.

If you wish to do some self examination to determine why it is that you, and almost every one of the folks who would post here, do view truth as some kind of amalgomation of evidence and verifiability, go ahead.

I really do suggest that you read the article I posted, notably

Philosophers call any entity that can be true or false a “truth bearer.” Propositions, sentences, statements, ideas, beliefs, and judgements are said to be truth bearers.

See, I’m that shallow.

Yes, thanks for pointing it out.

I wasn’t talking about “The Nature of Truth”. I was talking about the nature of truth as it appears to be being used here.As general of a term as possible. Statistically a bell curve. So, that’s great that you know all that neat stuff about philosophy but it’s not relevant to what I was talking about. Guess I was a bit sharp tongued there wasn’t I?

I was talking about the nature of truth as it appears to be being used here.

And I’m telling you that you are mistaken as to how it is used, here and elsewhere. Again:

Propositions, sentences, statements, ideas, beliefs, and judgements are said to be truth bearers.

It is true that I love my brother and I’m thirsty, but these truths are not matters which “can be verified”.

So, that’s great that you know all that neat stuff about philosophy but it’s not relevant to what I was talking about.

You, apparently not knowing this “neat stuff about philosophy”, fail to grasp that it is relevant. A large part of philosophy is investigation into the use and meaning of language and concepts.

P. Ghost, Gull Dang. I’m sorry I offended you with my last several statements. They were bitchy, I know. But I do understand what you are saying. Truth is a very sticky business and is typically philosophically dissected as if it were a continuum with More and Less truth applied to statements. And you have the issue of platforms a la Godel.

But in terms of my original post:

Posted by Mike Z on March 2, 2006 11:20 AM (e)

Doc Bill:

Philosophers may not get you excited, but they are the ones who are the best at picking apart the arguments and exposing the facts and the flaws coming from all sides.

You may prefer your unreflective approach to your field (I’m sure you do fine work), but to dismiss those who are more careful about these issues and are more intellectually curious seems very odd. I mean, what the heck do you think has been going on here at PT all this time???

Mike made a point which struck me as especially relevant- that these are often philosophical discussions rather than purely scientific. (We are not particularly doing peer review for example). I did take issue with the characterization “more careful about these issues and are more intellectually curious” but I chose to ignore that for what I saw as the larger point: That there is a philosophical problem that draws me at least (and many others I suspect) to the issue of religious nutjobs and education. So I made an unsubstantiated, blanket claim about people I know next to nothing about but of whom I feel qualified to judge:

Posted by BWE on March 2, 2006 11:37 AM (e)

Mike Z, Hits a little close to home? But you are right, we are not really discussing the scientific merits of ID. That would be a short discussion. We are discussing the logical, moral, and ontological fallout from the ID Wedge strategy. That is why so many “Holy Wars” erupt. Because the continuum of those elements includes specific beliefs. General beliefs really don’t fall into that continuum because they aren’t defined but specific beliefs that don’t stand up to scrutiny have to be modified and modified etc. until they do stand up to scrutiny. And people get uppity when their beliefs are challenged. I feel fortunate to have very few beliefs that aren’t subject to modification. The more of those you have, in my experience, the more fun you are to other people who might poke at you simply for the “practical joke value”. And the more defensive you need to be.

Donald pointed out that either I am a pompous windbag with little merit and less intelligence or that I didn’t fully explain what I was talking about:

I am curious, BWE, what separates general from specific beliefs? What scrutiny must these beliefs pass in order to be considered…what…valid? confirmed? true? warranted? I would also be interested to know the criterion you have in mind here to separate beliefs that have passed scrutiny from those that haven’t, and why that criterion is the right one for everyone. It seems from the way you describe this scrutinization process that the belief that the process itself is valid would also need to be scrutinized, making this a rather difficult endeavor.

So I tried to explain, hoping that it was really a case of misunderstanding rather than the more fundamental problem:

Posted by BWE on March 2, 2006 01:58 PM (e)

Ha! I mean that If I say that God is something, then I am making a claim which might potentially be subject to scrutiny. But if I merely claim that god is, then there is no real debate. The scrutiny would be first logic and second experimentation or other forms of direct evidence.

These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philosophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.

ID presents a challenge to a “scientific” way of thinking that demands verifiability. They support themselves by using PR and advertising techniques (sophism?)fueled by huge sums of money. It is a little bit shocking to have someone come up and say “you are wrong because I don’t want you to be right.”, when you make a business out of testing hypotheses and demanding evidence to support your conclusions.

Lenny is on point with his message that ID is religion- A political frame of reference. NSCE folks are on point that ID is not science. Raging Bee is on point with,… well, scratch that last one, and I try to stay on point with the absurdity of the ID PR machine. You might find several on point arguments but it is largely a debate over a philosophical point of view that truth in terms of the material world is largely objective and verifiable.

Wow, I think that might be a little convoluted.

The relevant part here is that “These discussions tend to be philosophical, logical, and fact checking to be sure but the philosophical element “What is truth?” with the answer being something like “That which can be verified” (I’ll leave it to Mike to elaborate) is a sort of a jumping off point for a large number of these threads.” -with words like “sometimes”, “something like”, “sort of” and “large number of” attempting to demonstrate the relative nature of my point.

And I stick to that point. Often, what get’s discussed is the relative merit and the relative truth of positions held by two very opposite points of view; one holding that evidence and empirical data should at the very least influence our world view and possibly even be the platform, a la Godel, on which we base our worldview, and the other holding that tradition trumps empirical evidence and that “it was good enough for the Hebrew children, it’s good enough for me”.

You point out (appropriately but not to my point) that

Um, the claim that truth is that which can be verified cannot itself be verified.

To which I shamefully replied:

No shit. I like salad too. Now, would you like to make a statement relative to my statement which you quoted?

Meaning that I wasn’t after the actual nature of truth, merely a description of the difference between philosophical outlooks of Fundy and non-fundy.

But I do qualify that remark (albeit in a somewhat aggressive and obtuse fashion) with:

And even further with this idea, that is why it’s fun. If you wish to do some self examination to determine why it is that you, and almost every one of the folks who would post here, do view truth as some kind of amalgamation of evidence and verifiability, go ahead. Me personally, I’m OK with it. Go ahead and do your philosophy though. It is fun. Especially Kant. Woo hoo. You want some real philosophy go read Kant. His stuff is real page turner stuff. Or try to figure out the real riddle of seeing god through morality. Read Crime and Punishment and come up with a better summary than :”Man kills old woman. Man feels bad.” See, I’m that shallow. That’s all I see in it. But man, I can read Schoenberg all day long.

My point again being that I am talking about truthiness rather than Truth. I am commenting on the places on the continuum where fundy and non-fundy seem to fall and that this is the issue that is most commonly the topic of discussion. (Although, I do feel that way about crime and punishment.)

You make the comment:

And I’m telling you that you are mistaken as to how it is used, here and elsewhere. Again: Propositions, sentences, statements, ideas, beliefs, and judgments are said to be truth bearers.

And I disagree. I am not disagreeing in the fundy sense that what you are saying “can’t” be true because I don’t “want” it to be true, rather I am disagreeing in the “scientific” vein that, my view of the evidence leads me to conclude that most of the conversations on PT are actually more about the philosophical divide between fundy and non fundy and that some measure of truth appears to be the determining factor.

And you said:

You, apparently not knowing this “neat stuff about philosophy”, fail to grasp that it is relevant. A large part of philosophy is investigation into the use and meaning of language and concepts.

to which I reply, I have read a fair amount of philosophy in my time but I wasn’t really referring to it in my original post or any of those thereafter. It may be relevant, but I don’t think it is relevant to what I said.

Thank you. BWE

BWE, you’re making no sense at all. Doc Bill wrote

When I’m really engrossed in a project and inspiration is about to strike, I’m most likely thinking, “Whoa, that chick is totally hot. I wonder if she’s into geeks?”

Philosophers, who needs ‘em?

If you take issue with Mike Z’s characterization of philosophers as being “more careful about these issues and are more intellectually curious”, then you are quite clueless. And there are several other ways in which your last post is clueless and incoherent, but it’s not worth my time to attempt to address them. I’m sorry you wasted your time writing it.

If you take issue with Mike Z’s characterization of philosophers as being “more careful about these issues and are more intellectually curious”, then you are quite clueless.

More than say, geneticists? Who gets to decide? You?

Clueless I may be, but wrong I am not. Because I get to decide what I meant. And what Philosophers think about the meaning of truth has no bearing on my point that most of these conversations are about some value of truth and the divide between fundy and non-fundy in arbitrating it.

My feelings are hurt Popper’s Ghost. Not worth your time? What are you talking about how is this worth your time but claiming that I am off my nut for thinking that this is essencially a philosophical debate between people who differ primarily between what they view as truth and then dismissing my response without ever adressing it not worth your time? Your time must be pretty valuable here at PT answering deep questions about why ice is slippery and such. http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives[…]omment-81668

Send me money.

BWE and Popper’s Ghost -

Quick note about my original comment: I did not intend to imply that philosophers in general are more careful or more intellectually curious than scientists (or any other profession) in general.

Rather, I meant that those who are more careful or more intellectually curious than Doc Bill are more likely to appreciate and engage in the philosophical debates. (Though Doc Bill has informed us that he was being sarcastic.)

Your all forgetting Phillipia Foot and Elizbeth Anscombe!

You are right on the money bwe though I think your intentions are poor. Truth is indeed what is being argued over. There is a difference between truth in your heart and truth under a microscope. Considering the nature of each, truth in your heart should take the higher ground.

Tell me, George – is “gravity” an example of “truth in your heart” or is it “truth under a microscope”?

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on March 1, 2006 7:00 PM.

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