Thursday, December 16, 2010
Taking No Prisoners
If Laudan's view were indeed the norm in philosophy of science, then it is little wonder that some say philosophy is irrelevant to any matters of practical consequence. Is philosophy going to be so removed from the realities of the world that it has nothing of value to say even on topics that ostensibly are its core concerns? It would be a sad commentary on our profession if philosophers could not recognize the difference between real science and a sectarian religious view masquerading as science. When squinting philosophers like Laudan, Quinn and their imitators such as Monton and George purport that there is no way to distinguish between science and pseudoscience or religion they bring to mind Hume's observation that "Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous." Unfortunately, in giving succor, inadvertently or not, to creation-science and now to ID, such philosophers compound the error, making the ridiculous dangerous.
- Robert T. Pennock, "Can't philosophers tell the difference between science and religion?: Demarcation revisited," Synthese, Volume 178, Number 2 / January 2011
It's as if Laudan is unaware of just how much evidence there is for evolution.
I'm reminded in this of Rumpole's justified disdain for academic lawyers.
And this bit demonstrates that Laudan didn't understand the legal issues:
[T]he real question is whether the existing evidence provides stronger arguments for evolutionary theory than for Creationism. Once that question is settled, we will know what belongs in the classroom and what does not.
Who is that "we"? The State of Arkansas mandated the teaching of creationism as science, using taxpayer money, including Laudan's if he happened to live in Arkansas or any of the states (like Texas) that would have been willing to follow suit but for McLean and Edwards v. Aguillard. That "we" wouldn't have been academics too busy contemplating their own navel to notice that we can still tell the difference between day and night tolerably well, despite the existence of twilight. The proper reaction to someone who proposes the wrong criteria for determining one thing from another is to propose better criteria, not to deny that there is any difference between day and night.
"The argument of this note was designed to show that the most credible philosophical argument against ID being treated as science is to point out the absence of any positive specification of its fundamental concepts, intelligence and design, rather than to have recourse to a demarcation criterion between science and non-science. The basic claim is that, in the absence of such a specification, ID cannot be a substantive theory, scientific or not. In the case of intelligence, there is no positive specification at all. In the case of design, there is no coherent specification."
had an item marking the 5th anniversary of Kitzmiller v. Dover today.