Re: [asa] Natural Agents - Cause and Effect, Non-Natural Agents

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Thu Apr 16 2009 - 08:59:42 EDT


I don't think I was confusing order with "explanations of order." I was
merely commenting on your suggestion that the world is ordered in a way
corresponding to human senses of order is no less "all encompassing"
than metaphysical naturalism or theism. If you wanted to be less
encompassing you might have said somethng like, "aspects of the world
can be reasonably organized," a position adopted by many modern
empiricists. It seems, in fact, that your suggestion is closer to
metaphysical naturalism, which, as far as I can tell, is not an
"explanation of order." I don't even see why naturalism need be
ordered. I can see why, given a certain notion of theism, that one
would expect a uni-verse, as opposed to various versions of polytheism.
Given theism, It still would not follow that the human man can comprehend
in toto that order.

Do you take this commitment to be representative of methodological
naturalism? I would think not, for many today would not adopt it. I
would think it better to suggest (I'm not saying you aren't) that
methodological naturalism is committed to explanations that exhibit
rational order and regularity. In this sense, it is an aim of science to
produce such theories, but, as distinguished from a metaphysical position,
it does not assert that the totality of the uni-verse (another working
aim) can be modeled or explained in ways according to human regularity and


  F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:

> Looks to me as though you're confusing order with explanations of order.
> The former is a necessary assumption for the doing of science. The
> explanation is metaphysical. Note that you can take advantage of order
> without having to explain it. The order is the same with scientism as
> with theism.
> There are terms in mathematical calculi that seem to fit analogically the
> notion of order within metaphysical naturalism: undefined primitives.
> They are given such meaning as they formally have by their incorporation
> into axioms.
> Dave (ASA)
> On Wed, 15 Apr 2009 13:49:00 -0600 wjp <> writes:
>> Dave:
>> With regard to science and human knowledge,
>> completeness of regularity and rationality constrain the universe as
>> much if
>> not more than theism.
>> Metaphysical naturalism surely says less than such completeness
>> requirements.
>> Indeed, it is possible that rationality of the universe (i.e.,
>> comprehensiveness to humans) may be incompatible with metaphysical
>> naturalism.
>> In any case, it is far from clear that such metaphysical constraints
>> are "minimal"
>> or less than metaphysical naturalism and Theism. And surely it is
>> as encompassing.
>> bill
>> On Wed, 15 Apr 2009 10:59:34 -0700, "D. F. Siemens, Jr."
>> <> wrote:
>>> Greg,
>>> Fact is that I don't read your posts. I made an exception on this
>> one
>>> because I saw my name. As to a philosophical foundation of
>> science, yes,
>>> there is one, but it is not looked at in the doing. That the
>> universe is
>>> regular and rational, that it matches human reason, are
>> metaphysical and
>>> epistemological, but are obviously minimal. Metaphysical
>> naturalism and
>>> theism are, in contrast, all encompassing.
>>> Dave (ASA)
>>> On Wed, 15 Apr 2009 00:04:51 -0700 (PDT) Gregory Arago
>>> <> writes:
>>> Hi Dave,
>>> You suggest that philosophy can be 'added to scientific
>> understanding.'
>>> What I'm looking for from you, as perhaps the lone philosopher
>> active
>>> here, is more of the opposite; showing how science is added to
>>> philosophical understanding. That would help to balance some of
>> the 'oh,
>>> that's just philosophy' sentiments. Didn't you enjoy the Grant
>> quotes
>>> from my previous post?
>>> You add: "ID and metaphysical naturalism (philosophical
>> naturalism,
>>> scientism) belong to philosophy, not science."
>>> Actually, Keith Miller himself called MN a philosophical
>> assumption.
>>> Are you suggesting there is no philosophical assumption in your
>>> 'interpretation' of MN?
>>> Instead of MN one could call it methods of studying nature, and
>> only
>>> nature (MSN-ON). This would distinguish two things: 1) the
>> discussion
>>> belongs *only* in natural sciences, i.e. the sciences that (among
>> other
>>> things use methods to) study nature, and 2) it would remove the
>>> ideological connontation of the -ism implied in 'naturalism,'
>> which is
>>> sometimes (but not always) inconsistent with theology and
>> transcendence
>>> or immanence of non-natural or divine action. Oh, yes, and I guess
>> 3) it
>>> would pluralize the word 'methods,' thus indicating what HPS has
>>> 'discovered' - there is no single 'scientific method,' but
>> multiple
>>> methods use in various places and situtations.
>>> Such a move, done intentionally with an aim to improve one's
>> grammar,
>>> would satisfy all of the parties who have spoken in this thread.
>> And,
>>> thank goodness, it would exclude me, because you would just be
>> speaking
>>> about natural sciences and not all sciences. It would then allow
>> people
>>> space to discuss the non-natural agents that have so obviously
>> been
>>> mainly avoided, but you'd have no human-social scholars to
>> entertain you.
>>> : - (
>>> Gregory
>>> Now with a new friend-happy design! Try the new Yahoo! Canada
>> Messenger
>>> ____________________________________________________________
>>> Click here for great travel deals to beautiful London!
> SZNBDt5nsEBCF0I8ApSUZaBgjwgY72/

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Thu Apr 16 09:00:04 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Apr 16 2009 - 09:00:04 EDT