Evolution (2)

Mark P. Line mark at polymathix.com
Mon Jun 6 20:31:46 UTC 2005

Salinas17 at aol.com said:
> In a message dated 6/6/05 12:02:27 PM, mark at polymathix.com writes:
> << If I thought that physics enjoyed mathematical purity and Cartesian
> vacuity in a way that biology does not, I'd say that physics was
> seriously on the wrong track. >>
> Quick note -- I wouldn't worry too much about putting physics back on the
> "right track."  That particular discipline doesn't seem particularly in
> need of any desperate self-correction -- at least, as far as predictive
> power goes, it seems to be very powerful.

Exactly. That's why I expressed myself contrafactually.

> What's very important to remember here is that science is not -- as a
> matter of methodology -- out to "prove" mathematical realism.  What it is
> is an assumption -- an umbrella hypothesis about the way the world works.

It's not an hypothesis unless it can be disproved. That's why I call it a
postulate and can entertain the notion that it's unnecessary.

> The methodological imperative is not realism but proof.  If the day after
> tomorrow, the assumption of realism collapses, then scientific
> methodology would be the first one to know it.

I don't think the assumption of realism can collapse, because I don't
think it can be disproved. It's a postulate that can be maintained or not,
neither more nor less natural -- and therefore neither more nor less
supernatural -- than any other postulate. Assumptions of realism belong in
metaphysics (along with scriptural mandates and creation myths), not in

The bottom line is that scientific results don't have to be true, under
any reasonable definition of 'true'. They only have to be useful. Any
amount of perfectly useful science can be done without maintaining any
realist postulates.

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
San Antonio, TX

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