Re: [asa] Altruism and ID

From: PvM <>
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 23:40:28 EDT

On 6/15/07, Gregory Arago <> wrote:
> 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

What are these supposed differences? Can we not detect altruism in
other humans and by logical extension, other animals?

> 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.

What is meant by non-physical explanation?

> 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.

I apologize for trying to provoke critical thought. When I ask 'why
not' it is meant to indicate that I have not been convinced of the
claim either because no attempt to support the claim has been made or
because I believe the explanation lacks in logic or evidence.

> Let's invite more people who deal with non-physical concepts, like altruism,

Begging the question.

> to share their views, lifting up the spirit of Christian dialogue! There is,

Why does a Christian dialogue rely on discussing non-physical
concepts? Is ASA not about science?

> 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.

A 'natural scientific' framework... Another meaningless or
tautological concept imho.

> 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.

So what are some of these evolutionary theories you are talking about?

> 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.

And why should issues of teleology be problematic from a scientific
perspective? I have yet to hear any reason why this claim, which is
fundamental as well to Intelligent Design arguments has any value. I
would argue that science can and has succesfully dealt with
teleological concepts.

> 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

Who is making such a claim here?

> 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 thought.

What am I missing here? That human thought can lead to scientific
theories? I have no problem with that? That scientific theories can
influence human thought? Again no problem here either.

> 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

I'd argue that if you believe this to be insulting that it does not
matter if this comes from a physics/oceanographer or not.
Nevertheless, you seem to be very quick to make presumptions about
motivations of others which in fact are ill founded and poorly

> 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

I'd agree with that. And do you realize that such character smudges
were not initiated by me, nor even returned beyond pointing out that
you are making up things about me as far as motivation etc are

> then I should happily be warned, reprimanded or counseled too.
> Gregory Arago


> And since it's my friends who are being dissed by insulting language like "Duh" and
> "scientifically vacuous", then I'm insulted by it as well. It's time to give this sort of thing a rest.

Duh hardly is an insult, it's a sound to communicate the obvious. As
far as 'scientifically vacuous' is concerned, it is a valid
description of ID, if it is insulting then I apologize for telling the
truth. We all know the saying though.. the truth...

Enjoy your weekend

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Received on Fri Jun 15 23:41:26 2007

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