Archive for July 5th, 2012

July 5th, 2012

Teleology in Science

by Max Andrews

Many scientists believe teleology involves human action. The role of necessity and contingency are vital. Phrases like, “In order to…” and “It just so happens that…” are contingencies.  Before proceeding I’ll make a quick distinction between metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics includes being and becoming. Each have respective higher and lower forms. Being’s higher form is beauty, justice, etc. The lower form is triangularity, humanity, etc. Becoming’s higher and lower are sensible things and images, respectively. Epistemology includes knowledge and opinion. Knowledge pertains to understanding and reasoning. Opinion refers to perception and imagination.

Teleology refers to final causation.  Aristotle’s science included four different causes: material, formal, efficient, and final. For instance, consider a marble statue of a man. The material cause is the stuff, the marble.  The formal cause is the whatness/sort, the statue.  The efficient cause is that which brings it into being, the sculptor.  The final cause is the end purpose, David.

Can teleology simply be an implication? Information has origin in mind but we know minds act in accordance to purpose, thus teleology is an implication and not a direct conclusion.  Natural causation cannot bring about directionality or intentionality. Many philosophers of science, i.e. Alex Rosenberg, want to get us as close to nomic necessity as possible. Simply put, many philosophers, including Rosenberg, believe efficient causation is not satisfying.

July 5th, 2012

Why Deductive Fine-Tuning Arguments are Weak

by Max Andrews

In a correct deductive argument if the premises are true the conclusion is true regardless of whether or not further evidence is considered.  There must be a reasonable connection or relationship between the conditions in a deductive argument (in the instance of implication).  Consider the argument, as modus ponens, that if the moon’s core is made of cheese then my desk is made out of mahogany.  What relationship do these two conditions have?  The truth-value is valid (F-T-T).  However, I recognize that this is merely a preference, which is, at times, convenient.  When making a novel explanans and prediction the relationship between the conditions may not be epistemically evident.

There are generally three options, which are often considered as an explanation for the fine-tuning data: chance, necessity, a combination of chance and necessity,[1] or a fine-tuner.  One immediate problem in implementing explanatory options in a deductive manner is that the first premise may be false wherein it may be lacking in options and the argument still is valid.  When these options are used in a [strict] deductive argument[2] it may appear as:

  1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
  2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.
  3. Therefore, it is due to design.[3]
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July 5th, 2012

Theology Thursday: Rudolf Otto

by Max Andrews

Theologian: Rudolf Otto (1869 – 1937)

More on his theology: Otto was a leading theologian of religious expression–a revival of Kierkegaard.  In 1917 Otto published his keynote work, Das Holige (The Idea of the Holy).  The outcome of the book was a sociological study of human religion and marked the distinction between ethics and religion.  The two cannot be equated.  Theological liberals maintained the idea that we should do what we know we should do.  The moral good may not be religious and the religious may not be the moral, which disagreed with the theological liberals).  Religion, to Otto, has to do with the numinous, that is, the realm beyond the human, which both attracts us and terrifies us.  This is what he called the mysterium tremendum. This is an unapproachable fear towards God.  C.S. Lewis illustrates this fear in The Problem of Pain.

Suppose you were told that there was a tiger in the next room: you would know that you were in danger and would probably feel fear. But if you were told “There is a ghost in the next room,” and believed it, you would feel, indeed, what is often called fear, but of a different kind.