From: Howard J. Van Till (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Mar 14 2003 - 09:47:13 EST
Moving on to your precept #3:
>>3. If two theories exist, one is chosen and the other rejected on
>>extra-scientific criteria such as consilience, beauty, symmetry, Ockham's
>>Razor or some combination of these. Note that this list is probably
>>incomplete. Criteria such as which offer the most interesting research
>>programs, which has the most prestigious names in support, etc. also play a
Scientific theories are evaluated by many diverse criteria. The particular
list of applicable criteria are chosen on a case by case basis. Here's an
excerpt from something I recently worked on:
> The formulation and evaluation of theories is one of the core activities of
> contemporary science. Examples of historically fruitful theory evaluation
> criteria in the sciences include:
> 1. Observational relevance. Is the theory vulnerable to affirmation or
> falsification by observational data?
> 2. Predictive accuracy. How well do a theory¼s predictions compare with what
> is observed or measured?
> 3. Coherence. Is the theory under scrutiny internally consistent? Is it also
> consistent with other theories considered to be well supported?
> 4. Explanatory scope. Does the theory apply to a broad range of phenomena,
> or is it confined to a very narrow class of phenomena?
> 5. Unifying power. Does the theory under scrutiny serve to unify several
> theories of limited scope into one more comprehensive framework?
> 6. Fertility. Does a theory suggest and stimulate further experiments or
> 7. Aesthetic qualities. Does the theory display aesthetic qualities such as
> simplicity, elegance, beauty, and the like?
Another aesthetic quality that is often very influential but difficult to
deal with is "Worldview comportance: How well does the theory under
evaluation comport with the fundamental tenets of one's religiously relevant
Here's another area where ID science will operate differently from normal
science. I suggest that it is the prominent role of Worldview Comportance
that leads ID advocates both to reject theories constrained by MN and to
place high value on theories that explicitly include the possibility of
non-natural form-conferring action performed by an unidentified, unembodied,
choice-making agent. I presume that ID advocates, on the other hand, would
argue that proponents of all forms of naturalism (methodological, minimal,
maximal, et al) are allowing the value of Worldview Comportance
(specifically, comportance with naturalism) to dominate the natural sciences
and to maintain a bias against ID science.
Howard Van Till
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