Posts tagged ‘Alex Rosenberg’

February 27th, 2013

William Lane Craig and Epistemological Naturalism

by Max Andrews

The following is a guest post by Kegan Shaw. Kegan is currently in the MA in Philosophical Studies program at Liberty University and his research is in epistemological naturalism and rationalism.


Looking back on the Feb. 2nd debate between William Craig and Alex Rosenberg, while much said was in keeping with good sense, there did appear to be some confusion about the notion of epistemological naturalism. It seems William Lane Craig confused or took together to be synonymous the terms scientism and epistemological naturalism (EN). These terms are importantly distinct and should therefor be kept that way. To make a statement of distinction right off, scientism is an epistemological theory, while EN is not strictly so.

The confusion stems from Craig’s taking epistemological naturalism to be equivalent to scientism, while proceeding to wrongly criticize epistemological naturalism as one would properly criticize scientism. For instance, Craig says in his Feb. 26 podcast that epistemological naturalism is the view that “science alone gives us knowledge and truth.” Craig’s debate powerpoint defined the same term as the view that “science is the only source of knowledge.” However, these are proper definitions of scientism, not EN.

January 2nd, 2013

Which Comes First, Science or Philosophy?

by Max Andrews

The Pre-Socratics were the first philosophers of science.  They were known as the sophos (the wise ones).  They were ecliplised by the British and German philosophers of science in the seventeenth century and were largely disconnected from science hence forth. Science sets the agenda, but philosophers bring philosophical reasons instead of scientific reasons.  Science answers the questions. The Pre-Socratics were the first to deal with metaphysics and did so to provide a rational philosophy.  This allowed for a rational and objective observation and the use of reason to systematize and order the content to make it coherent.

The Sophists were worldly-wise in contrast with the sophos–frustrated by the plurality of answers in the current philosophy. The Sophists were the original skeptics as evidenced in Pyrrho. They came out of the sixth century BC and broke away from religious dogma, which had never happened before.  Their methods were pragmatic and subjective–rhetorical and fashionable.  The phrase, “The One and the Many” became important.  The One (reality) had everything related to it (Many).  This is where we get Monism–the quality of oneness.  We see Monism appear later in Leibniz’s monads, which take us to a single substance and leads to atomic theory.

Ionian cosmology picked up the discourse. The poet, Hesiod, promoted a moral consistency with the gods and the Milesians used this as the next step of consistency to get to the natural order. Thales (624-546 BC) is often referred to as the first philosopher when he predicted an eclipse of the sun.  This was the first step in the evolution of metaphysical discovery. Thales’ theorem postulated that if angles A and C were the diameter of a circle then angle B was a right angle.  The world was rational and could be predicted and ordered.

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.

June 12th, 2012

Alex Rosenberg on Whether Philosophy Emerges from Science

by Max Andrews

Rosenberg breaks questions into two orders: first order questions and second order questions.  First order questions are normative.  This asks, “What is a number?”, “What is the nature of the abstract?”, “What is time?”, and “What is justice?” The questions are typically associated with what are now considered to be metaphysical, axiological, and aesthetic questions.  The second order questions ask, “What are the appropriate methods for science?”, “How does this work?”, “What cause could produce such and effect?”, and “How does science apply in this circumstance?”

There are two types of explanation: philosophical explanation and scientific explanation.  The philosophical explanation takes many forms.  Some Platonist philosophers treat the claims of science as truths to be discovered whereas others treat science as a human institution, something invented as a mode of discovery and to organize our experiences and enhance our technological control of nature.  Philosophical explanations, according to Rosenberg, are merely questions left unanswered and are only secondary to scientific explanations.  Scientific explanations attempt to make an objective relation between facts and/or statements that we set out to discover.[1]