Thursday, April 06, 2006


A Ruse Is a Ruse Is a Ruse

John Wilkins, down under philosopher and polymath (which I think means he, like I, is really bad at arithmetic and keeps getting more than one answer to 2+2) has a good piece on the Ruse / Dennett imbroglio.
John notes that:

Dennett . . . appears to be arguing some potentially reasonable views that I think are just unsupported by simple appeals to evolutionary biology. ... Biology may explain religious belief, or it may not completely explain it and leave some of the explanatory work to be done by the social sciences. But no matter what, so far as I can tell evolution doesn't require atheism. ...

Why do people insist on making an ideology out of a scientific theory? I mean, I can understand that ID is an ideology - it is precious little else . . . That doesn't mean we have to go out of our way to accept the way in which ID and religious claims in general frame the debate. That would be like allowing the defendant to set the rules of the trial.

On the other hand:

Ruse appears to think that there is an ideological movement called "Darwinism". I'm not sure why, apart from the tendency of historians and philosophers to reify abstract positions with labels that have capital letters. There have been any number of people who have called their views "Darwinism" - I'm thinking of the despicable views in the early 20thC of Benjamin Kidd and John B. Haycraft - but calling it "Darwinism" doesn't make it so. The term has also been employed in many contexts within science, usually to mean just an emphasis on natural selection. ...

Ruse is on track to end up like Steve Fuller - although unlike Fuller he doesn't think ID is science, by giving it the credence he does, he is perilously close to the sort of epistemic nihilism that Fuller espouses. Either science is the best way of knowing about the natural world, in which case ID is bankrupt and not worth dignifying, or it isn't, and Ruse's entire corpus is based on a mistake.

I have just started on Ruse’s latest book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle, and I will probably have more on this as I can get through it between bouts of (my) real life.

Forewarned and all that . . .

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