Re: [asa] on science and meta-science

From: Dave Wallace <>
Date: Fri Nov 06 2009 - 10:36:59 EST

Gregory Arago wrote:
> Finally, just now re-reading over my dissertation, which is in the
> final stages before defence, and the following sentence jumped out at
> me; I actually 'defined' (shock as it is to me now) the term
> 'naturalism' as follows:
> *"Naturalism is the ideology that preferences NPS above HSS."*
> **
> Anyone who would wish to challenge this, I'm open for discussing it
> (i.e. before defending it in front of a panel of professors in my
> not-first language)!
> Cheers,
> Gregory

I assume that NPS means Natural Physical Science and HSS means Human
Social Science and that you really mean the above as a definition rather
than an attribute of Naturalism.

One can see why you have an extremely strong aversion to the term "MN",
which I consider an unfortunate name as I have written in the past.
Given your definition of Naturalism then what sense does methodological
naturalism have, just as a term. Methodological Naturalism would then
be defined as doing science as if "Naturalism is the ideology that
preferences NPS above HSS" were true. Huh

I can accept your statement as an attribute of naturalism. In which
case it is an extremely unfortunate attribute and one I do not support
but in practise lots of NPS people do. As I have written before to you
I see bioscience as being much more intellectually challanging that say
physics or chemistry and HSS as yet another step up in difficulty. It
seems to me that you need to consider two thoughts:

1)You have deplored the absence of HSS scientists on this list. To me
that reflects the individuals interests and abilities, NOT a reflection
on the importance of HSS. Are there in fact more Christian in NPS than
in HSS? I suspect so. In all of the churches we have attended I have
only known one Christian phd in the HSS field, a physiologist but many
phds in the NPS areas. Just remembered a long time ago I knew a phd
archeologist at our church in Ottawa, thus if archology is part of HSS
then I have known two. (He knew Farley Mowat and thought him a good SF

2)My opinion, at least for HSS sciences like psychology, sociology and
economics is that they are not as mature a science as say physics or
physical chemistry is. And given how intellectually intractable I see
HSS, I doubt that any discrepancies in funding and related academic
opportunities in the HSS area, totally reflect relative importance but
rather expected payoff in the short term. Short term thinking is
something that I assume HSS studies as it is a human characteristic and
not part of NPS except wrt animals which you have defined as not being
part of HSS just by the name.

Best wishes on your defense

Dave W

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Received on Fri Nov 6 10:37:48 2009

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