April 8th, 2015
Inference to the Best Explanation Revisited (Our Method of Inquiry)
- When using certain theoretical terms, as in the inference to quarks, the epistemic process cannot restrict explanations to only natural or empirical explanations. If one attempts to strip science of all metaphysical import then material causation is the only sufficient form of scientific explanation. However, this has an unnecessary restriction on science and is incongruent with one’s epistemology (if it is to be robust). The robust epistemology certainly accounts for inferential explanations that are not necessarily required to be material. The epistemic methodology may be identical to a non-scientific context but when this methodology is applied in a scientific context then the explanation is ruled out a priori with no [apparent] justification (hence the removal of efficient and final causation from science). Thus, scientific explanations must not necessarily be material explanations. Remember, by using inferential explanations such as quarks and protons we observer their effects and infer as to what the best antecedent causal explanation may be. It’s an issue over the identity of what antecedent causes could be. (In a normal epistemic process the antecedent may be agency).
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March 2nd, 2015
Kuhn on Scientific Revolutions and Paradigm Shifts
- Scientific revolutions are here taken to be those non-cumulative developmental episodes in which an older paradigm is replaced in whole or in part by an incompatible new one. Paradigms are incommensurable (no common measure—can we really do that and still talk about different models?). (g. planets)
- “Suddenly the fragments in my head sorted themselves out in a new way, and fell into place together. My jaw dropped, for all at once Aristotle seemed a very good physicist indeed, but of a sort I’d never dreamed possible. Now I can understand why he had said what he’d said, and what his authority had been. Statements that previously seemed egregious mistakes, now seemed at worst near misses within a powerful and generally successful tradition.”
- When paradigms enter into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defense. (This circularity doesn’t necessarily make the arguments wrong or ineffectual.)
- There’s no such thing as paradigm independent data. Interpreting the data is paradigm specific. There is no theory-neutral data. No theory-neutral data ≠ objective knowledge. (Kuhn claimed this criticism was the result of a misunderstanding of him.) He claimed that when a scientific revolution occurs, “The world changes.” (He wanted to apply Scientific Revolutions to the contemporary science of his day but was constantly having to modify his philosophy in responding to critics.)
- Anomalies: The parallax of the angles between stars and the earth every six months. The lack of difference between angles was thought to show a Ptolemaic universe; however, the Copernican view allowed for this by suggesting that the angles were insignificant to their measurements (technological limitation) because the stars were too far away. Anomalies may also simply be ignored or counted as, simply, irrelevant until they build an undercutting consensus.
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February 15th, 2015
The following is a guest post by Michael Muniz. Michael and I did our MA’s together. I’ve wanted to get Michael on the site for a long time and we finally got a post. I hope you enjoy it.
A little bit of who I am: I have a BA in English and Academic Certificate in Film Studies from Florida International University, and an MA in Philosophical Studies from Liberty University. My thesis was on the Philosophy of Film Narratology. I’m currently a high school teacher (my 8th year) and an adjunct professor of philosophy and ethics at various colleges in South Florida. I’ve written chapters for several books in the pop culture and philosophy series including: Psych and Philosophy, Jurassic Park and Philosophy, Adventure Time and Philosophy, BioShock and Philosophy, and Jim Henson and Philosophy. I’ve also spoken at many pop culture and philosophy conferences around the nation including ComicCon and Mythcon. You can follow me on Facebook at Michael Muniz, and on Twitter @zinum777, and I have an author page on amazon.com.
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February 3rd, 2015
The Discovery Institute’s next summer seminars are from July 10-18, 2015 in Seattle. I attended the seminar in 2010. Once you’re labeled as an ID proponent your academic career is potentially slowed down or halted, unfortunately. Thankfully, I haven’t had any problems even though I’m still agnostic in many areas concerning intelligent design. I’ve gone on to become a Philosophy PhD Candidate at the University of Edinburgh and a I teach two classes in the philosophy of science as a tutor (academic freedom is written into my contract and have had great support from people within the university in regards to my research: fine-tuning and the ontology of many worlds scenarios). I’ve already outed myself as it’s not hard to find it in a quick Google search (I’m a philosopher so it’s not as academically persecuted).
I have no negative comments concerning the DI’s seminar. In fact, I have more respect for the institute and fellows. There were two concurrent seminars (natural and social sciences [now the CS Lewis Fellows Program]) that interacted with each other on a regular basis and combined on many occasions.
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January 5th, 2015
I recently saw Neil deGrasse-Tyson’s list of eight books for intelligent people to read and, though they aren’t all bad, there are much more profound books. So, naturally, there will be some overlap, though probably for different reasons, as well as a variety of topics as my focus also includes being cultured.
Being a member of academia or modern intelligentsia is great but if you don’t get out of your ivory tower and aren’t knowledgable in culture, pop-culture, history, the arts, music, etc. then you’re taking up a small niche of intelligentsia.
Aside from the diversity I just alluded to, my criteria will also include the impact the works have had on society[ies] and may include overlapping books for a single author–particularly if the books are integral to the ideology or thesis being presented.
Without further ado, let the countdown begin:
10. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Part philosopher, part theologian, and part literary genius, Dostoevsky depicts the problem of evil and a world without God in a magnificent way. The book is about two brothers in Russia during the Russian depression and war and one brother is an atheist and one is a Christian. The atheist plots to kill their father while the Christian struggles to convince him that there is objective morality. This is where we get Karamazov’s theorem: ☐(~Eg ⊃ ∀ϕ~Wϕ)
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December 31st, 2014
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE AND NIHILISM
To attribute nihilism to Friedrich Nietzsche’s works would be a complete misunderstanding of his teleology. Nietzsche’s Thus Spake Zarathustra is a calling and desire for the übermensch to create a transvaluation of values. To categorize Nietzsche as a nihilist would be a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of his work.
When referring to nihilism there must be an understanding of all that the word entails. Nihilism refers to nothingness and is a denial of all worldviews. There are apparent problems with being consistent in rendering a nihilist understanding. Referring to everything having no meaning renders a meaning of nothingness. There is no objectivity, knowledge, truth, or virtue. There is a claim of paradigm independent referents. For the advancement of understanding Nietzsche’s teleology this self-referential incoherence must be set to the periphery. To discard Nietzsche so quickly in such a manner would be to misunderstand his teleological claims.
Nietzsche’s paradigm for truth was based on biological development. This, by all admission, was a relativistic understanding and rendition of truth; it was a social construct. This was in response to the proclamation that “God is dead.” In the fifth chapter of Twilight of the Idols Nietzsche deduces the implications of stripping God from Christianity [in reference to morality].
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December 30th, 2014
Subjectivism begins with personal experience. One might actually regard philosophical subjectivism as doing philosophy from the inside-out (which can eventually lead to critical-realism/non-realism). Both René Descartes (1596-1650) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) attempted to construct philosophical systems from this starting point (although in the end both were realists). In the modern world subjectivist philosophies have become very popular as they challenge the notion of absolute Truth which allows people to democratize truths. This means truths become relative to each person. As a result, a society built on subjectivist principles is believed to be tolerant and willing to allow people to live and let live (providing they do not harm others – which, ironically, is not a subjective, and therefore relative, statement).
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