July 5th, 2012
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.
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June 13th, 2012
Any type of efficient causality is typically associated with being an unscientific explanation—explanations nonetheless but unscientific. It is believed that if biology, chemistry, physics, etc. rested explanations in final causation then it would be a science stopper. This is where the distinction between Duhemian science and Augustinian science must be made. I would deny the use of Duhemian science. This method, or philosophy, has a goal of stripping science from all metaphysical imports. Augustinian science is open to metaphysical presuppositions with science. Francis Bacon and Descartes used and allowed for formal and final causation in scientific explanation. Newton entered science and postulated that the universe was entirely mechanistic, which was a denial of Baconian and Cartesian science (at least their versions of scientific explanation) but offered no explanation for the appearance of final causation and efficient causation. Darwin came along and provided a plausible material mechanism for the appearance of final and efficient causation (at least for the special science of biology). In the mid 1800’s William Whewell was the first to restrict science to only mean natural science. Pierre Duhem followed this idea and constructed a methodology, which barred explanations to material causes. For instance, agent causation is completely compatible with Augustinian science but is prohibited as a scientific explanation in Duhemian science. Agent causation is something that can be observed but isn’t necessarily reductionistic in the material sense as with material causation because agent causation has metaphysical import.
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January 11th, 2012
The Word of the Week is: Quantum-Logic
Definition: An interpretation of quantum mechanics developed by John von Neumann in the late 1930’s. Quantum logic says that everyday logic cannot be applied to the quantum world. Contrary to Boolean logic, quantum logic says that and and either do not have the same meaning in the quantum world.
More about the term: This interpretation isn’t known to be deterministic or indeterministic. That is still up for debate. However, there is no collapse of the wave function. Also, local causation is uncertain as well. There is little debate on the issue but the majority understanding of this is that it has a unique history (contrary to other non-collapse interpretations like Many Worlds). When using Boolean logic to assess quantum logic it may seem that quantum logic is self-contradictory; however, if quantum logic is assessed internally it is indeed consistent. The major problem for this system is extrapolating applied logic. Boolean logic is certainly valid in everyday life but is invalid in the quantum world. One way or another it seems that contradictions may arise somewhere along the way. For more information see John Gribbin’s Q is for Quantum.
Example of use: Consider the double slit experiment where a photon is shot at a wall with two slits and the photon goes through either one (or both). So, because there is no wave collapse the photon actually goes through both slits. There’s a different logical significance in this experiment.