Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: David Clounch <david.clounch@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 13:11:26 EST

Is it true or false that MN was invented to deal with a metaphysics? And
has that purpose and role.

Thanks,
Dave C

On Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 9:37 AM, Alexanian, Moorad <alexanian@uncw.edu>wrote:

> The laws of Nature are statistical in nature and so are based on
> generalizing the results of many experiments. Therefore, there is no way
> that miracles, for instance, can come in into the experimental results,
> which would be discarded if they differed greatly from the average results.
>
> As you say Murray, there really is no difference between attitudes in
> practicing scientists vis--vis their general worldviews. It is when we talk
> about the laws of Nature that ones metaphysical notions will become
> evident.
>
> Whatever you do, drive a car, walk, breath, etc. is replete with
> assumptions that you make that are not brought forth except when the
> exceptional happens. Otherwise, one goes the merry old way without thinking
> much about metaphysical assumptions. Very much like fish in water, they are
> totally unaware of it and rightly so.
>
> Moorad
> ________________________________________
> From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of
> Murray Hogg [muzhogg@netspace.net.au]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:03 AM
> To: ASA
> Subject: Re: [asa] on science and meta-science
>
> Hi Schwarzwald,
>
> Okay, so your fundamental point would be that if Christians were to enter
> into the lab and practice "methodological Christian theism" (MCT) then their
> descriptions of physical reality would be the same?
>
> Theologically speaking I think I could cope with this. After all, I don't
> see that a Christian theology of nature demands that we invoke God at the
> drop of the hat just because we run across some explanatory difficulty.
> Which is to acknowledge the point that the Christian theist can be quite
> responsible in the practice of science without even so much as paying lip
> service to naturalism by invoking MN as a practical maxim.
>
> Interesting...
>
> Blessings,
> Murray
>
> Schwarzwald wrote:
> > Heya Murray,
> >
> > Some comments below.
> >
> > * There's nothing about the methods commonly associated with
> > "methodological naturalism" that makes its findings or methods
> > exclusively compatible with naturalism anyway. Claiming that,
> > say, "Water = H2O" is a naturalistic discovery is an empty
> > statement, since nothing in the discovery or description is
> > necessarily incompatible with a non-naturalistic perspective.
> >
> >
> > I feel I must have entirely missed the point here - for the simple
> > reason that I don't believe anybody is arguing that MN is
> > "exclusively" compatible with naturalism. Rather the point has been
> > that MN is compatible with a metaphysic of a particularly Christian
> > theistic sort.
> >
> >
> > Part of my difficulty with MN is that it's simply a misnomer on a number
> > of levels. I think I expanded on that in the post, but to put it another
> > way: If the 'methods' in MN are not exclusive to MN - if they're
> > entirely compatible with (perhaps more compatible with) a theistic, or
> > other non-naturalist (certainly non-materialist-monist) worldview - then
> > why make reference to naturalism whatsoever? Again, to use an example I
> > made in the post - I've seen some Christians point out that they are
> > not, say, 'theistic meteorologists'. The argument being that the
> > qualification 'theistic' just isn't doing much. In which case - assuming
> > there's no objection to what I've pointed out here - why "use
> > methodological naturalism"?
> >
> >
> > So, taking the "Water = H2O" example: I wonder whatever gave you the
> > idea - which you seem to me to be taking as your point of departure
> > - that this claim is regarded as "incompatible with a
> > non-naturalistic perspective".
> >
> > Isn't the entire point of the theist's defence of MN precisely that
> > an explanation like "Water = H20" can be arrived at according to the
> > assumptions of MN whilst also being perfectly compatible with the
> > theistic (non-natural) perspective?
> >
> >
> > That's certainly the belief I had previously, and I think some of the
> > assumed particulars of MN (An emphasis on directly observable phenomena,
> > on repeatable experiments, etc) are entirely fine. It just happens to be
> > the case that "naturalism" isn't necessary whatsoever to rely on those
> > particulars, and that "naturalism" itself is a term which has shockingly
> > little utility other than negative stances besides (Rejection of
> > purpose, rejection of "God" - with the latter put in quotes because,
> > frankly, naturalism can now supposedly accept the existence of beings
> > that would be called deities or supernatural previously).
> >
> > But I'll try to explain myself better here. I think everyone on this
> > list, and in conversation in general, tends to bring a typically
> > particular emphasis to the table. Gregory's point often relates to HSS.
> > You've often talked about aboriginal perspectives and different
> > approaches to understanding ancient origins (put loosely). Ted tends to
> > bring a historical perspective to the table. For myself, I suppose what
> > I commonly focus on is language - I point out what 'moral' means coming
> > from one worldview versus another. That the opposite of 'naturalism' is
> > not just 'theism', nor is the only choice between 'materialism' and
> > 'cartesian dualism'. And that 'methodological naturalism' is a
> > functionally rather useless, and practically rather deceptive, term.
> >
> > We simply do not need any commitment to naturalism, even merely
> > "methodological", to do science - and good science at that. Nor do we
> > need naturalism to define certain methods, standards, and limitations
> > for a fruitful science. Some greater appreciation for philosophy of
> > science, and metaphysics in general, could well be useful.
> >
> > Hopefully this better explains where I'm coming from on the MN subject.
> >
> >
> >
> > As I say, I'm sure I must have missed the point, so I'll await
> > clarification before responding further.
> >
> > Blessings,
> > Murray
> >
> >
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> >
> >
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Received on Tue Nov 3 13:11:38 2009

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