Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 15:55:38 EDT

Moorad's approach does well on it's own, as for pointing to the difference between (other) animals and human beings. I would include another view also to say that one can apply (some) scientific methods to study altruism, while agreeing that there is no purely physical-natural explanation for it. Thus, I 'contributed' the link to Sorokin's work and the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love at Case Western.
  It is altogether frustrating for me to dialogue with Pim, perhaps others on this list might agree. When he answers questions with little provocational barb questions (Why not? - which apparently means, Yes!), to me this is simple bad etiquette on e-discussion. Pehaps, since he was unwilling to accept my private messages in this regard, this brief conversation-style critique will be pardoned.
  Let's invite more people who deal with non-physical concepts, like altruism,
  to share their views, lifting up the spirit of Christian dialogue! There is, after all, much scholarship happening that doesn't fit into natural scientific frameworks but that can be shared and collaborated with natural scientists nevertheless to enhance the knowledge of both contributors and viewers.
  Paul Feyerabend showed us that 'science' is not monolithic, that there are multiple methods and not just one single scientific method. By inference, there is not just a 'single evolutionary theory' but many theories of evolution, something which seems to have been widely accepted here at ASA over the last year or so, and which was already discussed by Pope John Paul II over 10 years ago.
  It has been my argument for many months now at ASA that social-humanitarian uses of evolution 1) differ from natural scientific uses of evolution, and 2) that in effect they make no sense because human beings (i.e. we) are intelligent agents, selecting, deciding, choosing things using purpose, meaning and intentionality, with goals in mind, i.e. teleologically. Yet in institutional economics, neo-evolutionary sociology and evolutionary psychology the concept of evolution is freely applied. Yes, changing opinions on this peculiar sensibility seems to be my burden to carry, along with a few others.
  It is inconsequential for someone to jump in with a 'if it involves teleology then it is not scientific' type of mentality towards such a position. There is still something to learn from bringing into context the role of evolution as used in both natural sciences and social sciences. The discussion of altruism is a convenient flashpoint because it is reversing the table on what happened with evolution - out of the natural sciences into the social-humanitarian sciences vs. out of social-philosophical-theological thought into natural science (e.g Wilson, Trivers, Dawkins et al.). However, the latter sentence is over-simplistic because, as Ted Davis pointed out a couple of months ago, and as the thread referring to Malthus touches on, there were evolutionary theories before Darwin's that came out of human-social thought too (e.g. H. Spencer). Malthus influenced Darwin significantly, showing the two-way or multi-way street between natural science and social-humanitarian
  It is insulting to have a physics/oceanographer accusing me of making things up. Perhaps greater respect could be expected here than at Panda's Thumb or other merely-debate forums on the internet. The dialogue here is rather more deserving than resort to character smudges. If I am guilty of misdemeanors then I should happily be warned, reprimanded or counseled too.
  Gregory Arago

PvM <> wrote:
  Gregory Arago

> There is of course nothing wrong with physical scientists discussing concepts and meanings and their implications. However, altruism simply cannot be reduced to physicality. This should
be easy to agree upon here at ASA, shouldn't it?

Why not?

> When Pim says, "As a scientist I really do not know how to deal with mystical concepts such as a 'non physical part'," this is revealing. It is important to involve/invite those people who deal with
> non-physical concepts on a daily basis. Pim seems not to want to do that in the name of Science.

Nonsense, you are once again making up things Greg. Just contribute...

Be smarter than spam. See how smart SpamGuard is at giving junk email the boot with the All-new Yahoo! Mail

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Fri Jun 15 15:56:45 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Jun 15 2007 - 15:56:45 EDT