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Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 08 2010,22:32   

StephenB started a thread on UD addressing the question of what comprises the "natural" in "methodological naturalism," but his rigid categories of thought, and inability to grasp the manner in which he smuggles his conclusions into his definitions, render progress on that thread impossible. Nevertheless, the topic has got me thinking.

It felt it would be interesting to start a thread addressing the definition(s) of "natural" as referenced in the phrase "methodological naturalism." As I read Robert Pennock, he equates the "natural" in "methodological naturalism" with those phenomena that are within the reach of the empirical sciences. In his article "Naturalism, Evidence and Creationism" he states:
     
Quote
Since [the collapse of logical positivism and the verifiability criterion of meaning], in philosophy at least, the Naturalist view of the world has become coincident with the scientific view of the world, whatever that may turn out to be. Many people continue to think of the scientific world view as being exclusively materialistic and deterministic, but if science discovers forces and fields and indeterministic causal processes, then these too are to be accepted as part of the Naturalistic world view. The key point is that Naturalism is not necessarily tied to specific ontological claims (about what sorts of being do or don't exist); its base commitment is to a method of inquiry....The Methodological Naturalist does not make a commitment directly to a picture of what exists in the world, but rather to a set of methods as a reliable way to find out about the world - typically the methods of the natural sciences, and perhaps extensions that are continuous with them - and indirectly to what those methods discover. An important feature of science is that its conclusions are defeasible on the basis of new evidence, so whatever tentative claims a Methodological Naturalist makes are always open to revision or abandonment on the basis of new, countervailing evidence. (p. 83-85 of Intelligent Design Creationism and its Critics).

On this view, it is amenability of putative explanatory hypotheses to investigation by means of the methods of inquiry employed by the empirical sciences that determines whether those explanatory hypotheses can broadly be characterized as denoting phenomena that may exist in the natural world. Many phenomena ranging from the fundamental entities of particle physics through the complexities of biology and cognitive and social psychology, and economics reflect putative casual relationships that are investigable by such means, and can therefore be limned as "natural."

Although specific borderline cases may be problematic for some, it is clear that the causal workings of an omnipotent, omniscient deity lie forever outside the domain that is investigable by these methods, for the simple reason that any observation may be reconciled with the causal powers of such an agent, and hence no observation can disconfirm the actions of such an agent. One does not conclude that such deities cannot exist, but rather that claims regarding such deities cannot be cited in the course of the investigation of the world by means of the methods of contemporary science, because such claims are indefeasible in light of evidence. As such, it lies outside the domain of the "natural."

But these are just preliminary thoughts. What Say Ye, oh denizens of AtBC?

By the way, Stephen, you are certainly welcome to participate here, although that requires a bit of courage, as you'll have to emerge from behind the skirt of Clive's moderation at UD to do so. I don't expect that to occur, however.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 08 2010,22:49   

Interestingly, although the term “methodological naturalism” is young, components of the debate have been pursued within the Catholic Church since the 12th century, and continue to the present day. See the article by Philip J. Jacobs: “An Argument Over ‘Methodological Naturalism’ at the Vatican Observatory” in The Heythrop Journal, XLIX (2008), pp 542-581.

The abstract:

 
Quote
This paper is framed as a continuation of a 12th century debate over whether a ‘profane’ account of nature without reference to arbitrary divine acts in its workings (secundum phisicam) threatens the unity of scriptura et natura that was assumed in the natural philosophy which developed out of the Platonic/Augustinian tradition. Currently this issue takes the form of either a commitment to or circumvention of the protocol of ‘methodological naturalism’ in the explanation of natural history, most clearly with regard to evolutionary theory. The focus of the paper is on the latent disagreement over this issue between two poles of the steering committee which oversaw a series of conferences co-sponsored by the Vatican Observatory. One side was willing to make a sustained commitment to ‘methodological naturalism’, arguing that while nature was not self-explanatory, its inherent characteristics were sufficient for explaining the course of natural history. The other side was initially willing to concede the protocol, but ultimately saw the unity of scriptura et natura threatened. After the introduction, Section II analyzes specific disagreements between the two groups over theological epistemology, theological language, and God as a necessary factor in the explanans of natural history. That analysis becomes the basis in Section III for the assertion that the strategy of the second group involves returning to an older form of natural philosophy with a doxa-episteme progression that allows it to augment the ‘profane’ epistemology of ‘methodological naturalism’ with an esoteric insight in order to recognize what is ‘objectively’ the case. Natural philosophies of this sort permit a ‘semantic variability’ such that the designation of a claim as ‘theological’ can mean that it both is and is not a semantic alternative to claims that follow the protocol of ‘methodological naturalism’. The strength given the claim will depend on the discourse context. The paper concludes with a chart of the multiple and significant differences between the two groups.


Jacobs notes that this discussion has a history extending back to the 12th century.

 
Quote
It is not a new argument since an early version of it was debated in the 12th century. In that period, the cosmology offered in the Timaios provided the framework for a natural philosophy in a Platonic mode which permitted a seamless melding of religious, aesthetic, philosophical, and ‘scientific’ elements. Since this model did not distinguish between ‘natural’ and ‘religious’ knowledge, the ‘prejudice’ of faith was granted an essential position in its comprehensive epistemology. Eventually, however, an interest developed in a methodological program to produce an account in which nature could be known in itself, secundum phisicam, a view represented in the writings of William of Conches (d. 1154). He took the step of stipulating that the cosmos was from the very beginning guided by laws of nature such that its processes proceeded according to an immanent physical lawfulness that could be studied by rational research. In such an account, no reference need be made to arbitrary acts of God. William of Saint-Thierry (d. 1148/49) opposed this, criticizing the inherently ‘naturalistic’ tendency of such a position. His basically Augustinian criticism was taken up as well by Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173) for whom the program of secundum phisicam represented a step toward a ‘profane’ understanding of nature, which in his view was simply not possible. The debate showed how, in the view of some, the idea of ‘profane nature’ functioning independently of specific divine directions threatened to undermine the unity of scriptura et natura. It was suggestive of a disquieting alternative to the kind of integration of theology and ‘science’ that had allowed for theological explanations of natural processes. To demarcate ‘nature’ in this way implied accepting a limitation on the biblical meaning of the divine arbitrium (dominion and authority). The reaction of those opposing William of Conches, therefore, was to reaffirm the integrative natural philosophy of the Platonic/Augustinian tradition.


He further notes that two opposing schools of thought have continued to contest this issue within the Vatican Observatory to the present day:

 
Quote
My strategy for parsing out the differences between them involves creating two ‘constructs’ which will represent the consolidated views of the members in each group. The first position, generally aligned with Richard of St. Victor, includes Robert Russell, Nancey Murphy, and Thomas Tracy [RMT] and the members of the second are William Stoeger S.J., George Coyne S.J., and Ernan McMullin [SCM] who can be seen as sympathetic to William of Conches’ interests.


He describes their contemporary positions:

 
Quote
For [SCM], a central intention of the conferences was to nurture what it sees as a developing rapport between science and theology. It presupposes a version of a ‘consonance criterion’: there should be mutual respect between the two disciplines, with each remaining within the area of its competence and neither making competing claims that infringe on the type of reflection practiced by the other. This criterion, then, presumes a ‘methodological naturalism’, a procedural decision not to permit the admixture of theological claims into scientific inquiry, and specifically into the explanans of natural history. [RMT], in order to fulfill the ‘consonance criterion’, will passively concede at the outset that science must proceed according to ‘methodological naturalism’. Yet [RMT] shares the medieval concern that such a ‘profane’ explanation of nature threatens the unity of scriptura et natura since it would make it unclear how God superintends creation as the biblical accounts propose. Consequently, after its initial concession, it finds a way to have a ‘fluid’ semantic so that the designation of a claim as ‘theological’ allows it to mean that it both is and is not a semantic alternative to claims that follow the protocol of ‘methodological naturalism’. [RMT] can do this by returning to a Platonic mode of natural philosophy that allows it to meld its ‘theological epistemology’ with ‘profane epistemology’ in order to produce a model in which, while different explanations can be offered for the same natural event, there is ultimately just one integrated, comprehensive explanation. The theological claims can, when the context permits, supersede (by augmenting) those of natural science and require mention of the divine agent in order to establish what actually happened/happens. As a result, the original concession of ‘methodological naturalism’, granted possibly for diplomatic reasons, ends up being surpassed by a claim that theology can make ‘objective’ claims about the course of natural history.


With respect to the “semantic variability” suggested by the second [RMT] group Jacobs remarks:

 
Quote
What remains, then, of the commitment [of the LCD faction] to the protocol of ‘methodological naturalism’? I would argue that it can appear and disappear ‘pragmatically’ as a function of the current discourse context. But this pragmatic benefit has its weaknesses since it would seem that it only succeeds when the discourse contexts are kept isolated from one another, otherwise the inherent variability presents debilitating problems. For example, there is the following petard on which [RMT] hoists itself: if God in the details of evolution is to be used intramurally in a parochial discussion of apologetics, then it can be strengthened at will and be presented as a claim in natural history. But what strength should it be given if it were part of an open, intermural polemic against the opponents/atheists? In that context, were [RMT] to weaken the claim to avoid sounding like Intelligent Design, then it would find itself drifting back into a parallel language approach and given the agenda of the new Neo-Orthodoxy it cannot do that. So it would be forced to the Intelligent Design position (and the abandonment of ‘methodological naturalism’), all the while trying (unsuccessfully) to argue that it is not a version of Intelligent Design. The only way [RMT] can avoid this loss of coherence is by intentionally segregating the discourse contexts, even though it is using the same ‘constructive theology’ in both. At this point questions about coherence as well as candor arise once again.


It an interesting article that traces the implications of this debate through quantum physics, the question of randomness, and evolution. It certainly gives the lie to the assertion that the constraints suggested by methodological naturalism, and controversy regarding same, are new phenomena. Unfortunately, it appears to be available only behind institutional/pay walls.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Touchstone



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 09 2010,00:01   

Off topic a bit here -- great thread, hope to chip in a thing or two on this when I have more time -- but the closing comment you made about paywalls is worth a comment, I think.

I have spent more money than I care to admit on $35 articles behind paywalls over the years... I work in high tech/interwebs areas, and so do not have academic access to that stuff. I suppose I could go down to my university library when it mattered, but this article is yet another example of how paywall barriers to scholarly content may be important commercially (I'm sure it is), but is a terrible loss for the good guys in the battle of ideas.

How many times have I gone round and round on MN now on blogs, forums and email loops? This article would have been very useful, just from the snippets here. Maybe I should not complain and just suck it up and whip out my Visa card yet again in situations like this, but that will only help on the margins.

There's so much good, persuasive, substantial stuff just sitting there behind paywalls, and it doesn't do a damn bit a good in the thousands and thousands of places where it can make a difference in the battle against anti-science and anti-knowledge. From MN to evolution to psychology to research on genetics and homosexuality, so much ammo -- vetted, quality ammo -- sitting on the sidelines.

Efforts like PLoS ONE are great, and a step in the right direction. But it's the exception that proves the rule, right now. Some of the articles I've bought have turned out to be busts, both educationally and polemically, given the discussion that prompted me to buy them. But many of them have been instrumental in making a good, evidence-based case, and making it well.

How much better off would the science community be if it freed all the data, knowledge and analysis locked up behind these paywalls? The more I go broke buying paywalled articles, the more clear the self-defeating nature of this stance, even if it does provide commercial relief and profit for the owners? At some point, I think it should occur to these same stakeholders that they have more to gain, even commercially, by making all this knowledge and evidence freely available than they do by paywalling it.

It would be a boon for the good guys in the thousands of clashes of ideas that take place on the net now, every day on topics like the one in this thread.

Apologies for sermonizing off topic all over your good thread.


-TS

  
Quack



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 09 2010,02:44   

Age, language and intellectual capacity made it impossible (or at least too tough) for me to compose the response I tried to make. I'll leave it at extending kudos to RB.

I am not holding my breath for StephenB to appear here although it might have been interesting.

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The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
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Reciprocating Bill



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Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,08:28   

StephenB has taken to repeating this particular bit of horseshit in other venues. At "First Things," with my response:
Quote
StephenB:

"If I come home and find my home ransacked, rule out a tornado, and conclude that it was a burglar who open the dresser drawers looking for jewelry, I have, according to the theistic evolutionist, violated the principle of methodological naturalism by making an inference to a supernatural cause, namely the burglar's immaterial mind. According to the Darwinist, I have not violated the principle of methodological naturalism since, for him, both the tornado and the burglar, being mere molecules in action, are natural causes. So, as a methodological naturalist, you must say either that the burglar is a supernatural cause or else you must say that a burglar and a tornado are the same kind of cause, namely a natural cause. Either way, you are doomed to reside in an intellectual madhouse."

Nonsense. It doesn't follow from the proposition that human agents have natural origins that we have no basis from which to discern the results of human actions from the impact of other natural events.

Tornadoes and human beings both have natural origins, yet those origins reflect vastly different causal histories and exert characteristic and easily discerned impacts upon the world. Moreover, we each spend a lifetime, literally beginning at birth, immersed in the actions and products of other human beings, navigating the social landscape of others’ motives and intentions, and engaging in actions, generating products, and deploying motives and intentions of our own. We also spend our lifetimes encountering unguided physical events such as wind, rain and the general increase of disorder observed in non-living processes.

This deep familiarity renders us adept at identifying the characteristic markers of human actions, products and intentions and distinguishing them from unguided natural events. Indeed, there are significant reasons to suspect that we are adapted to quickly make these distinctions, particularly the subtle discernment of human actions and motives. Abstract and unobservable posits such as "immaterial minds" are neither required nor helpful in making these particular distinctions.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Zachriel



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Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,08:52   

Methodological Naturalism should only be considered a heuristic, a handy rule-of-thumb to account for most types of non-evidenced entities, such as ghosts, gods and mischievous elves.

Sign: No Demons Allowed in Chemistry Lab

But from a philosophical vantage, a more careful criterion is methodological parsimony. In science, we methodically eliminate extraneous entities, that is, entities that have no specific, entailed, empirical implications.

Science can quite readily investigate reports of ghosts. Science can also investigate ghosts themselves, as long as the posited ghosts have empirical implications, that is, as long as there is evidence of their existence. It doesn't matter if you call them natural or supernatural. Hence, the recent development of PKE meters, Ghost Sniffers, Slime Blowers, and of course, the Ecto-Splat.



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Proudly banned three four five times by Uncommon Descent.
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Reciprocating Bill



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Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 13 2010,08:59   

Quote (Zachriel @ Feb. 13 2010,09:52)
Methodological Naturalism should only be considered a heuristic, a handy rule-of-thumb to account for most types of non-evidenced entities, such as ghosts, gods and mischievous elves.

Sign: No Demons Allowed in Chemistry Lab

But from a philosophical vantage, a more careful criterion is methodological parsimony. In science, we methodically eliminate extraneous entities, that is, entities that have no specific, entailed, empirical implications.

Science can quite readily investigate reports of ghosts. Science can also investigate ghosts themselves, as long as the posited ghosts have empirical implications, that is, as long as there is evidence of their existence. It doesn't matter if you call them natural or supernatural. Hence, the recent development of PKE meters, Ghost Sniffers, Slime Blowers, and of course, the Ecto-Splat.


Just don't cross the streams. Or do a terrible sequel.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
qetzal



Posts: 311
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 14 2010,14:14   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 08 2010,22:32)
As I read Robert Pennock, he equates the "natural" in "methodological naturalism" with those phenomena that are within the reach of the empirical sciences.

I agree with this. In fact, I don't like the term 'methodological naturalism' at all. It's misleading, IMO, because there's too little agreement on what 'naturalism' and 'natural' mean.

Can science investigate the supernatural? Some say sure; for example, science can investigate the possible existence of ghosts, or the healing power or prayer. But others say no, science can't investigate the supernatural, because anything truly supernatural is outside of the realm of science by definition.

Thus, I think it's confusing to say the science practices methodological naturalism, or that it confines itself to studying the natural. Rather, science confines itself to the study of things that can be observed empirically, objectively, reliably, predictably, etc. I'm not sure what single word best captures all of that, but 'natural' is not it.

From that perspective, science can study ghosts or gods or pixies if any of them have observable, predictable effects that we can detect empirically. If they don't ever have such effects, science can't study them.

Of course, if something has no observable, predictable effects that we can detect empirically, even in principle, does it even exist for us? I would argue it probably doesn't, but that's a different discussion.

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 14 2010,14:24   

Quote
I'm not sure what single word best captures all of that, but 'natural' is not it.


Try "real". Then anything not amenable to scientific study is imaginary!

  
rhmc



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 14 2010,14:32   

methodological reality?  methodological realism?

hmmm.

  
Henry J



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 14 2010,17:33   

How about this:

Science depends on verifiable evidence, and is the study of patterns consistently observed in the evidence.

In the case of evolution, the relevant patterns include nested hierarchies (via genetic and anatomical comparisons), geographic clustering of related species, chronological arrangements of fossils, and observed changes in genes and anatomy over the few years such things have been studied.

Henry

  
Thought Provoker



Posts: 530
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 14 2010,21:41   

Hi Alan,
   
Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 14 2010,14:24)
Try "real". Then anything not amenable to scientific study is imaginary!

Have you read any of Terry Pratchett's books?

His books are based on a weird alternate reality that has many parallels to our own.

For example, their version of Santa Clause is called Hogfather which is a mythical being (half hog, half human) who brings toys to the good boys and girls throughout diskworld.

Death is the typical tall, dark, immortal being carrying a sickle but in Pratchett's universe Death is more supportive of humanity than typical.  Here is a scene were Death is explaining things to a human named Susan...

Death: Humans need fantasy to *be* human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.

Susan: With tooth fairies? Hogfathers?

Death: Yes. As practice, you have to start out learning to believe the little lies.

Susan: So we can believe the big ones?

Death: Yes. Justice, mercy, duty. That sort of thing.

Susan: They're not the same at all.

Death: You think so? Then take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder, and sieve it through the finest sieve, and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. And yet, you try to act as if there is some ideal order in the world. As if there is some, some rightness in the universe, by which it may be judged.

Susan: But people have got to believe that, or what's the point?

Death: You need to believe in things that aren't true. How else can they become?


I generally don't like it when people try to create their version of reality, especially when it involves worshipping deities.

However, every now and then, I realize that believing a lie or being overly optimistic is exactly what is needed.

  
Alan Fox



Posts: 1391
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,06:12   

Quote
Have you read any of Terry Pratchett's books?
A couple: not enough to get hooked or decide I don't like them.

I would say Pratchett has a very vivid imagination, and that he has imagined his Discworld reality, which whilst being imaginatively imaginative, is not really real!

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,09:07   

Then there's the whole "ways of knowing" thing.

The scientific method isn't really a way of knowing if we're being honest - it can increase our confidence that hypothesis and theories are correct, but never signs off on them. So then to have the claim that science and religion are competing ways of knowing is terrible, and seeks to elevate the religious enterprise using the very old "same but different" ruse.

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"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
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"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
qetzal



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Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,14:11   

Quote (Thought Provoker @ Feb. 14 2010,21:41)
I generally don't like it when people try to create their version of reality, especially when it involves worshipping deities.

However, every now and then, I realize that believing a lie or being overly optimistic is exactly what is needed.

Honest question: are you trying to make a point about methodological naturalism or anything else relevant to this thread's topic? If so, I'm afraid I'm missing it.

(Note - I don't object to banter, if that's all you're doing. For whatever reason, I keep thinking your statements imply more than you may have intended. No offense meant.)

  
Tracy P. Hamilton



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,14:14   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 15 2010,06:12)
Quote
Have you read any of Terry Pratchett's books?
A couple: not enough to get hooked or decide I don't like them.

I would say Pratchett has a very vivid imagination, and that he has imagined his Discworld reality, which whilst being imaginatively imaginative, is not really real!

Pratchett's books, being a satire of our world, are all too real.

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"Following what I just wrote about fitness, you’re taking refuge in what we see in the world."  PaV

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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,14:42   

Quote (Tracy P. Hamilton @ Feb. 15 2010,09:14)
Quote (Alan Fox @ Feb. 15 2010,06:12)
Quote
Have you read any of Terry Pratchett's books?
A couple: not enough to get hooked or decide I don't like them.

I would say Pratchett has a very vivid imagination, and that he has imagined his Discworld reality, which whilst being imaginatively imaginative, is not really real!

Pratchett's books, being a satire of our world, are all too real.

Books real; story imagination!

  
Schroedinger's Dog



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Joined: Jan. 2009

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2010,15:00   

I would really suggest to read Pratchett's "The Science of Discworld" series.

My favorite is the first, dealing with abiogenesis and evolution, but the second (The Globe) is nice too. The third, "Darwin's Clock", I haven't read yet, but will do so very soon.

I have the whole Discworld series except Witches Abroad and TSOD Darwin's Clock. I intend to buy them in the next few months.

Is that relevant to methodological naturalism? No. But hey, I like to brag about my collection! :)

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"I have a better suggestion, Kris. How about a game of hide and go fuck yourself instead." Louis

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George



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 17 2010,06:38   

I would really, really suggest reading Pratchett's Nation, a non-Discworld book for younger readers.  There's very extended treatment of science and religion, amongst culture clashes and other themes.  "That nice Professor Dawkins" even gets a mention at the end.

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,08:11   

Just taking note that StephenB, after briefly streaking bare naked through a thread on First Things, has retired to the the safety of UD and Clive's moderation skirt.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 19 2010,09:04   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 19 2010,08:11)
Just taking note that StephenB, after briefly streaking bare naked through a thread on First Things, has retired to the the safety of UD and the Clive's moderation skirt.

And I thought ID was ready for prime-time!

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,23:01   

what say I? Well, first thing I say is that this is a humbdinger of a sentence:
Quote
On this view, it is amenability of putative explanatory hypotheses to investigation by means of the methods of inquiry employed by the empirical sciences that determines whether those explanatory hypotheses can broadly be characterized as denoting phenomena that may exist in the natural world.


Otherwise, Any attempt to shrink the universe to a manageable size by declaring any truth at all to be absolute is bound to run into obstacles some day.

Matter and energy are accounting systems for the modeling systems in our brains is how I'd put it. Believing what you see is a different thing from explaining what you see.

I'll think about it a little more though and maybe make a better post later.

Hi everyone. :)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,23:14   

Hey, BWE! Always good to see you.

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 20 2010,23:24   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Feb. 20 2010,21:14)
Hey, BWE! Always good to see you.

same. How's school going?

BTW, I use a new phrase of respect or sincere appreciation now, "Thanks for all the squirrels." Weird how some things that move us manage to stick. Thanks for that.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Reciprocating Bill



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Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,10:58   

Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,00:01)
what say I? Well, first thing I say is that this is a humbdinger of a sentence:
Quote
On this view, it is amenability of putative explanatory hypotheses to investigation by means of the methods of inquiry employed by the empirical sciences that determines whether those explanatory hypotheses can broadly be characterized as denoting phenomena that may exist in the natural world.

I read way too much R. Buckminster Fuller in my wayward youth.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
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BWE



Posts: 1898
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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,11:37   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 21 2010,08:58)
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,00:01)
what say I? Well, first thing I say is that this is a humbdinger of a sentence:
 
Quote
On this view, it is amenability of putative explanatory hypotheses to investigation by means of the methods of inquiry employed by the empirical sciences that determines whether those explanatory hypotheses can broadly be characterized as denoting phenomena that may exist in the natural world.

I read way too much R. Buckminster Fuller in my wayward youth.

:) sounds pretty wayward alright. It just occurred to me to ask, is methological naturalism identical to materialist reductionism? And, if so, are you saying it can't be used to study god because it is limited to cause and effect chains of observable phenomena or because those cause and effect chains are the entirety of the universe within which we operate?

I ask because feedback makes complicated systems hard to untangle. Without geometry, the world was arbitrary and capricious. Without the telescope, the heavens were crystalline. Without the microscope demons caused disease. Without electricity, time was absolute. Without the tools of quantum mechanics, it was possible that the universe made sense.

I think that you presupposed a limited and petty god that acted as an agent within a very small bit of the feedback system. While it is pretty obvious that religion got the whole package wrong, I'd be surprised if methodological naturalism couldn't be used to study and understand some of the deeper elements of the system, maybe all of them. It seems a level independent system.

And too, all models without exception are false. They are only more or less useful in predicting future states within the system. Matter and energy are accounting systems for our mental models. While we shouldn't ignore them, the truth of them is only in the moment and there is no depth to that at all.

Just sayin. :)

Is that sort of the question you were asking?

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

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Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,11:56   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 21 2010,10:58)
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,00:01)
what say I? Well, first thing I say is that this is a humbdinger of a sentence:
 
Quote
On this view, it is amenability of putative explanatory hypotheses to investigation by means of the methods of inquiry employed by the empirical sciences that determines whether those explanatory hypotheses can broadly be characterized as denoting phenomena that may exist in the natural world.

I read way too much R. Buckminster Fuller in my wayward youth.

Buckyballs to that!

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
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Lou FCD



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,14:19   

Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,00:24)
Quote (Lou FCD @ Feb. 20 2010,21:14)
Hey, BWE! Always good to see you.

same. How's school going?

BTW, I use a new phrase of respect or sincere appreciation now, "Thanks for all the squirrels." Weird how some things that move us manage to stick. Thanks for that.

I'm honored, as would be my father-in-law, I think.

School's going, Chem II is kicking my ass, and I just got my acceptance letter to UNCW for the fall. I rarely find the time for blogging these days, but it's all about priorities, y'know.

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BWE



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,15:00   

Quote (Lou FCD @ Feb. 21 2010,12:19)
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,00:24)
Quote (Lou FCD @ Feb. 20 2010,21:14)
Hey, BWE! Always good to see you.

same. How's school going?

BTW, I use a new phrase of respect or sincere appreciation now, "Thanks for all the squirrels." Weird how some things that move us manage to stick. Thanks for that.

I'm honored, as would be my father-in-law, I think.

School's going, Chem II is kicking my ass, and I just got my acceptance letter to UNCW for the fall. I rarely find the time for blogging these days, but it's all about priorities, y'know.

congrats! Are you majoring in biology then?

Chem II kicks everybody's ass if that helps. It's hard to cram several hundred pages of formulas into your head in one term and keep from blinding your lab partner at the same time. But if you think of it as hazing or boot camp then maybe it's easier to take. My advice right now if you're going into any kind of biology/ecology/natural systems field is to get as much bayesian math as possible. It is amazing how powerful it has turned out to be.

The advice might change tomorrow though so remember how much you paid for it. :)

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,18:13   

Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,12:37)
 
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 21 2010,08:58)

I read way too much R. Buckminster Fuller in my wayward youth.

:) sounds pretty wayward alright.

You have NO idea. Home made dodecahedral tensegrities, hours with Synergetics I and II, debauchery under the ASM geodesic dome...



 
Quote
It just occurred to me to ask, is methological naturalism identical to materialist reductionism? And, if so, are you saying it can't be used to study god because it is limited to cause and effect chains of observable phenomena or because those cause and effect chains are the entirety of the universe within which we operate?

That would better describe philosophical naturalism.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 21 2010,21:30   

Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 21 2010,16:13)
Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,12:37)
   
Quote (Reciprocating Bill @ Feb. 21 2010,08:58)

I read way too much R. Buckminster Fuller in my wayward youth.

:) sounds pretty wayward alright.

You have NO idea. Home made dodecahedral tensegrities, hours with Synergetics I and II, debauchery under the ASM geodesic dome...
[snip picture]


   
Quote
It just occurred to me to ask, is methological naturalism identical to materialist reductionism? And, if so, are you saying it can't be used to study god because it is limited to cause and effect chains of observable phenomena or because those cause and effect chains are the entirety of the universe within which we operate?

That would better describe philosophical naturalism.

:) Well. That explains a lot. Wild. Totally wild.

Were your parents professors? We should swap stories sometime. It's a small group that knows the true damage done to a kid's ability to be normal as an adult...  :p

To stay on topic, I also have to say that I've never managed to get a single quality assignable to god out of a believer so it's hard to know whether a method could find it.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
qetzal



Posts: 311
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 22 2010,15:46   

Quote (BWE @ Feb. 21 2010,21:30)
I've never managed to get a single quality assignable to god out of a believer....

That's easy: existence!

I suppose next you'll be complaining about the definition of existence. Sheesh!

;)

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2010,17:19   

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Super.pdf

I don't think you can investigate the supernatural, personally.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Hermagoras



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2010,18:22   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 22 2010,17:19)
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Super.pdf

I don't think you can investigate the supernatural, personally.

That's pretty good, but Stenger needs to read Edward Tufte on PowerPoint excess.  That is some crap design.

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"I am not currently proving that objective morality is true. I did that a long time ago and you missed it." -- StephenB

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fnxtr



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 22 2010,20:53   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 22 2010,15:19)
http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Super.pdf

I don't think you can investigate the supernatural, personally.

Can you do it by proxy, then?

What about with waldoes?

...or you could just send a grad student.

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"But it's disturbing to think someone actually thinks creationism -- having put it's hand on the hot stove every day for the last 400 years -- will get a different result tomorrow." -- midwifetoad

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Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,06:23   

As things are quiet enough for postal Mornington Crescent could I ask if any of this makes sense  
Quote
Current reality (as perceived today with all the accumulated knowledge of mankind) is everything that is known. The boundaries of this domain are easily defined though what is contained is rapidly changing and, I would suggest, expanding.

Ultimate or potential reality is everything that exists that is capable of being perceived by current or future humankind from Earth. The boundary of this domain is the past and future light cone (I doubt it makes much practical difference if I say of the Earth or of our galaxy). I would suggest the limit of exploration into past events is the Big Bang and the limit into the future will be the Sun’s metamorphosis into a red giant, unless some earlier catastrophe intervenes.

Then there is a domain that is outside current and ultimate reality which I would like to call the imaginary domain. (complex numbers, argand diagrams and the Mandlebrot set seem to fit)

So bacteria were, prior to their discovery, in the ultimate reality domain and were engulfed by the expanding boundary of the current reality domain. (All things that are real exist but not all things that are real are within the domain of current reality, yes I get the black crow concept.)

What about extraterrestrial lifeforms. They are certainly not in the domain of current reality. Are they in the domain of ultimate reality? We don't know that but we have ideas that guide our search. The domain of ultimate reality is, I assert, contained in (cannot be bigger than) the same envelope as the knowable universe and thus has the same physical properties (or laws, if you prefer). This limits the possibility of what a discoverable alien could consist of.

Other universes with other physical constants, life beyond the boundaries of the knowable universe, what happened before the Big bang would all seem inaccessible to us now and ever.


If not:

Mudchute!

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,06:27   

And would it be fair to claim that anything in the domain of ultimate reality is amenable to the scientific method of study.

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,08:53   

the trouble with testing for [supernatural_1] is that [supernatural_2] might get in the way.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,14:25   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 23 2010,03:53)
the trouble with testing for [supernatural_1] is that [supernatural_2] might get in the way.

Hi Rich

is that a reply to me?

  
Richardthughes



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,14:35   

Is the supernatural part of 'ultimate reality'?

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
midwifetoad



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 23 2010,15:44   

It's included in ultimate woo.

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Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,05:09   

Quote (Richardthughes @ Mar. 23 2010,09:35)
Is the supernatural part of 'ultimate reality'?

No. Ultimate reality (from our point of view) is the domain of everything that can potentially be observed, i. e. up to but not before the Big Bang, not beyond the death of the Sun (unless colonization is attempted) and the limit set by the speed of light. Current reality can expand to these limits but not beyond. The imaginary domain can be everything else or nothing else depending on your point of view. I was rereading Hawking's "Brief History of Time" recently and that was how I made sense of his thoughts. It's not going down well with Biologos either.   :(

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,05:11   

Quote (midwifetoad @ Mar. 23 2010,10:44)
It's included in ultimate woo.

So my piece doesn't make sense at all or is there something that is at least wrong?

ETA anyone feel free to comment!

/desparate

  
Reciprocating Bill



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,06:38   

Too quick to be entirely coherent, but I'm outta time:

Given that you define the boundary between ultimate reality and the imaginary relative to possible human discovery (e.g., as limited by horizons such as the light cone from earth), it seems to me that there may be other equally insurmountable horizons of other kinds. For example, there may be cognitive horizons, beyond which lie events and processes that are inexpressible and unimaginable in any human language or other representational system of which humans are capable of using, mathematical or otherwise, individual or collective, and will forever remain so.

Is there difficulty in positing that there may be "real" phenomena that lie beyond such an horizon, and hence will remain forever and inherently undiscovered? If not, is not your definition tied too closely to what human beings can discover? Our cognitive powers are evolutionarily contingent, after all.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
midwifetoad



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Joined: Mar. 2008

(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,06:47   

Quote (Alan Fox @ Mar. 24 2010,05:11)
Quote (midwifetoad @ Mar. 23 2010,10:44)
It's included in ultimate woo.

So my piece doesn't make sense at all or is there something that is at least wrong?

ETA anyone feel free to comment!

/desparate

Makes sense to me. My comment was about the supernatural, which I associate with ignorance and fraud.

By ignorance, I mean the default or initial state of knowledge regarding any phenomena.

--------------
Any version of ID consistent with all the evidence is indistinguishable from evolution.

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,10:53   

midwifetoad:


Quote
Makes sense to me. My comment was about the supernatural, which I associate with ignorance and fraud.


That's a relief. The pejorative associations of supernatural and the ambiguity of  natural is partly why I suggest real and imaginary instead

ETA clarity.

  
Alan Fox



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(Permalink) Posted: Mar. 24 2010,11:06   

Quote
For example, there may be cognitive horizons, beyond which lie events and processes that are inexpressible and unimaginable in any human language or other representational system of which humans are capable of using, mathematical or otherwise, individual or collective, and will forever remain so.


Yes, indeed. But, how would we know? We only know what we know. But can we at least say collective accumulated human knowledge cannot reach beyond the physical limits of the universe. Or is that an open question? And is methodological naturalism, or shared and peer-reviewed human perception aided by instruments and experiments the only way of us knowing anything.

  
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