Re: Signs of Scientism - Scene 2

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Sat Feb 04 2006 - 19:12:00 EST

*First, what business does The Economist have doing a 'survey' of human
evolution? One possible reply: it is not their business. Second, is it
simply trendy to throw one's hat in on this topic even if one is not
educated in physiology, paleontology, anthropology, zoology or another
related discipline? Why does The Economist feel it needs to speak
particularly about human evolution doesn't homo economicus signify its own
disciplinary meaning that natural scientists usually don't bother with
professionally?*
**
Not to defend The Economists' editorial position, but it isn't a publication
devoted solely or even primarily to economics. It's a weekly that covers
politics, finance, economics, law, science, and literature. (See
www.economist.com). The editorial bent of The Economist is what I'd
describe as utilitarian and positivist. I'm not sure why they decided to do
a survey of human evolution, but the science / technology survey is a
regular feature.

*Try saying that Marxism 'died swiftly' to an Estonian a Kazaki or a Chinese
person. That 'great secular faith' approach is more of a pat
over-generalizing myth than a critical analysis of current views in the
academy.*

I think you're right about this to some extent, though I think the
Economists' editors correctly note the decline of Marxism, even in most
areas of the academy, as a serious intellectual framework. Even in
communist countries like China, I'm not so sure the zeitgeist favors genuine
Marxism anymore.

*It would be helpful instead then if you would be willing to elaborate on
how 'social Darwinism' is (still) relevant/integrated in jurisprudence and
legal studies, as you've suggested.*

I view utilitarianism and logical positivism as related to Social Darwinism
-- or maybe I should better say, I view Social Darwinism and utilitarianism
as outgrowths of Enlightenment rationalism, and logical positivism as a
further outgrowth and refinement of Enlightenment rationalism. Legal
positivism is the school of jurisprudence that grows out of logical
positivism. It holds that there is no connetion between law and ethics.
Law is simply a socal construct, and whether a law is "good" depends only on
whether the law "succeeds" or fails" in a utilitarian sense. This is Social
Darwinism woven into Law. Legal positivism and its step-child Legal
Interpretivism (as articulated by theorists like Ronald Dworkin) are among
the dominant schools of jurisprudence in the West today.

Though I think both Legal Positivism and Legal Interpretivism offer some
good insights. If you recall, when we were discussing Judge Jone's decision
in the Dover case, I identified myself as "something of a legal realist,"
and legal realism is part of both Legal Positivism and Legal
Interpretivism. However, I think these logical positivist theories of
jurisprudence are inadequate from a Christian perspective. I think Natural
Law theory is more consistent with a Christian understanding of how positive
law relates (or should realte) to morality and ethics. Among legal
scholars, however, I'm probably in the minority on this point. I think it's
fair to say that variants of positivism dominate in the legal academy today.

On 2/4/06, Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca> wrote:
>
> "What [current] hypotheses [of human evolution] have in common is that
they rely not on Spencer's idea of individual competition, but on social
interaction. . . . Of the three great secular faiths born in the 19th
Century -- Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism -- the second died swiftly
and painfully and the third is slipping peacefully away. But Darwinism goes
from strength to strength. If its ideas are right, the handful of dust that
evolution has shaped into humanity will rarely stray too far off course.
And that is, perhaps, a hopeful thought to carry into the New Year." (Dec.
24-Jan 6 Economist)
>
> Thank you, David, for participating in this thread. A few questions come
to mind. First, what business does The Economist have doing a 'survey' of
human evolution? One possible reply: it is not their business. Second, is it
simply trendy to throw one's hat in on this topic even if one is not
educated in physiology, paleontology, anthropology, zoology or another
related discipline? Why does The Economist feel it needs to speak
particularly about human evolution doesn't homo economicus signify its own
disciplinary meaning that natural scientists usually don't bother with
professionally?
>
> Economics and biology are in many ways far apart in the scientific
landscape of contemporary academia. And besides, Marx's and Freud's ideas
are still liberally discussed in economics, psychology, sociology and other
social sciences even today. Try saying that Marxism 'died swiftly' to an
Estonian a Kazaki or a Chinese person. That 'great secular faith' approach
is more of a pat over-generalizing myth than a critical analysis of current
views in the academy.
>
> Well, so now that I've criticized The Economist...The question of this
thread seems somehow irrelevant or unanswerable: What are the signs of
scientism and where are they evident in theories of evolution and ID? Why
don't scientists want to speak about scientism?
>
> It would be helpful instead then if you would be willing to elaborate on
how 'social Darwinism' is (still) relevant/integrated in jurisprudence and
legal studies, as you've suggested.
>
> "[T]here certainly are many theoretical approaches there that derive from
what could broadly be termed "social Darwinism". There also is a huge body
of literature about jurisprudence that ultimately is grounded in
utlitarianism, which ultimately is grounded in "social Darwinism" in a broad
sense." - David
>
> Thanks,
>
>
> David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>
> How about this, which I just read in the Dec. 24-Jan 6 Economist (which
contains a survey of human evolution):
>
>
> "What [current] hypotheses [of human evolution] have in common is that
they rely not on Spencer's idea of individual competition, but on social
interaction. . . . Of the three great secular faiths born in the 19th
Century -- Darwinism, Marxism, and Freudianism -- the second died swiftly
and painfully and the third is slipping peacefully away. But Darwinism goes
from strength to strength. If its ideas are right, the handful of dust that
evolution has shaped into humanity will rarely stray too far off course.
And that is, perhaps, a hopeful thought to carry into the New Year."
>
>
> On 1/18/06, Gregory Arago <gregoryarago@yahoo.ca > wrote:
> >
> > Perhaps another thread would be possible for the following question:
> >
> > What are the signs of scientism and where are they evident in theories
of evolution and ID?
> >
> > I hope it is o.k. to restart the topic after many insightful comments on
the other thread. This question could perhaps also help to clarify what
aspects of ID display scientism, since it is thought that the ID program or
strategy over-reaches or tries to somehow reinvent or redefine the common or
general perception of 'science.'
> >
> > For example, when M.Behe says, "Intelligent design theory has
implications for virtually all humane studies, including philosophy,
theology, literary criticism, history and more," this is to me an example of
exceeding the boundaries of scientific speculation. But then again, he is
not necessarily speaking as a scientist when o pining about ID's
'implications.'
> >
> > On the other hand, since a thread was just opened about R. Dawkins, the
issue of what aspects of evolutionary theories (if any) display scientism
may be fresh when considering his views. Granted that not all evolutionary
theories necessarily lead to atheism or agnosticism and not all scientists
who accept evolutionary theories display scientism.
> >
> > The comment by Rich Blinne that ID is closer to 'moderate forms of
theistic evolution' or evolutionary creation than it is to
YEC seems relevant (and rather curious) also.
> >
> >
> > Gregory
> > ________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
>
>
>
>
> ________________________________
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>
>
Received on Sat Feb 4 19:12:42 2006

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