a super(b) paper on human evolution

Mark P. Line mark at polymathix.com
Wed Aug 10 19:10:55 UTC 2005

Tom Givon wrote:
> I think the argument is really not about ID, nor about evolution. It is
> about science. And having heard an earful about ID I cannot, try as I
> might, differentiate it from the general, concerted, well financed attack
> on science in this country (US). This attack is not only on science, but
> on the Enlightenment's rational methods of inquiry in general.


The argument generally goes as follows:

(a) Scientific theories are always dependent on metaphysical postulates.
(b) There are no scientific theories that are perfectly adequate.
(c) My metaphysical postulates are just as good as anybody else's.
(d) Ergo, my non-scientific theory based on my metaphysical postulates is
just as good as any scientific theory.

The two obvious problems with this argument, of course, are

(1) It can be shown that premise (a) is false. (van Fraassen)
(2) Conclusion (d) suffers from presupposition failure (a non-scientific
theory cannot be evaluated one way or another as a scientific theory).
Conclusion (d) is equivalent to the usually unstated conclusion (e):

(e) Ergo, my non-scientific theory based on my metaphysical postulates is
just as good as any plate of spaghetti carbonara.

So, the simple fact of the matter remains that purveyors of non-scientific
theory have no recourse but to accept with all consequences that they're
not doing science.

NB: Please note that I do not intend "non-scientific" to imply
"religious": not all non-scientific theory is necessarily grounded in any
kind of religious doctrine. For example, I consider Chomskyan linguistics
to belong to (non-scientific) philosophy of language, not (scientific)
linguistics, because the philosophical method is ubiquitous there while
the scientific method is nowhere to be seen.

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX

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