• WISDOMfromPO-MO
    713
    Confusing ontological materialism and methodological materialism probably complicates discussions here.

    At least that is what I suspect as I read certain threads.

    Anyway:

    "Accusations of materialism in science tend to confuse two differing meanings of the word:

    Ontological materialism is the belief, or assumption, that only material matter and energy exist. For the ontological materialist anything immaterial must be the product of the material. In principle all immaterial phenomena must be reducible to (explicable by) natural laws.
    Methodological materialism is neither a belief nor an assumption but a restriction on method. Briefly stated, it holds that a non-material assumption is not to be made. Science, for example, is necessarily methodologically materialist. Science aims to describe and explain nature. Diversion into the "supernatural" or into the preternatural begins to address matters that are not natural and to obfuscate the natural.

    Methodological materialism is a defining characteristic of science in the same way that "methodological woodism" is a defining characteristic of carpentry. Science seeks to construct natural explanations for natural phenomena in the same way that carpentry seeks to construct objects out of wood. In operating in this manner neither discipline denies the existence of supernatural forces or sheet plastics, their usefulness or validity. The use of either supernatural forces or sheet plastics is simply distinguished as belonging to separate disciplines."
    -- Materialism
  • Wayfarer
    5.3k
    The usual expression is ‘methodological naturalism’.
  • WISDOMfromPO-MO
    713
    The usual expression is ‘methodological naturalism’.Wayfarer

    No matter what one calls them, I sense that there is often no cognizance of the distinction between them and that that contributes to the confusion in discussions about materialism, physicalism, consciousness, etc.
  • filipeffv
    14
    You're wrong when you write *sciences*; you should have written "hard sciences", and that'd be more correct. However, this kind of thought is a materialist\positivist one, which has been criticized by a lot of philosophers in twentieth century. The main problem of this materialistic conception is, by rejecting any metaphysics and transcendental knowledge, to not explain and demonstrate a knowledge epistemologically independent, from which all knowledge came -- Sellars refute this fundationalism with his Myth of the Given -, and fall in mistakes when studying social sciences. The reason, by which it is explained the universal characterization of natural laws in physics and in natural sciences, is demonstrated in Kant's epistemology, and the categories of knowledge, that positivism and materialism rejected until Sellars, Popper, and Gödel... Furthermore, Social Sciences are not made by universals and natural laws, and nothing into this field of knowledge and analysis could be reduced to them; that's why positivism is wrong, and so it is materialism, historicism, etc.
  • tom
    1.3k
    Ontological materialism is the belief, or assumption, that only material matter and energy exist. For the ontological materialist anything immaterial must be the product of the material. In principle all immaterial phenomena must be reducible to (explicable by) natural laws.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    What is an immaterial phenomenon, given that only mater and energy exist?
  • SnowyChainsaw
    52


    Social Sciences are not made by universals and natural lawsfilipeffv

    I've never been convinced of this. It is possible social behavior is determined by the chemical and physical processes in the brain and that would indicate they are just as much a part of natural law as processes like gravity and the movement of planets. I imagine these processes are just far too complex for us to fully understand yet and therefore seem random or unpredictable.

    I don't think "hard science" is a very useful term. Science is science.
  • Wayfarer
    5.3k
    It is possible social behavior is determined by the chemical and physical processes in the brainSnowyChainsaw

    Big Pharma would certainly like you to think so.
  • SnowyChainsaw
    52


    Wow. Didn't know what Big Pharma was. Interesting reading

    Do you believe it?
  • Harry Hindu
    975
    Methodological materialism is neither a belief nor an assumption but a restriction on method. Briefly stated, it holds that a non-material assumption is not to be made. Science, for example, is necessarily methodologically materialist. Science aims to describe and explain nature. Diversion into the "supernatural" or into the preternatural begins to address matters that are not natural and to obfuscate the natural.WISDOMfromPO-MO

    The point of my whole thread (Physical vs. Non-Physical) was to question this distinction between what science can explain and what some other method can explain. The fact is that they both need to be consistent and compliment each other, because the natural, and the supernatural/prenatural have causal relationships with each other. To explain one is to explain the other, as they both interact with each other. Both methods cannot contradict each other, like they do now. All knowledge must be integrated into a consistent whole.

    This is why I also call into question the distinction between the natural and the supernatural in my other thread (Artificial vs. Natural vs. Supernatural).
  • filipeffv
    14
    I imagine these processes are just far too complex for us to fully understand yet and therefore seem random or unpredictable.SnowyChainsaw

    It remembers me Espinoza. But you would have to assume that free will doesn't exist; the problem is that, since everything is a successive and progressive process of causes, it necessarily assumes a free first cause -- one of the kant's antinomies. If you reject the first cause as an exception, why wouldn't human action be possibly, potentially, an exception as well?

    Furthermore, the problem of free will is deeper. First, the chemical process of mind are not causes, but effects. Second, and that is the big problem, it is concerned to the core of normativity; pragmatology is clear about it. EVERYTHING has rules: language, semantics, social interaction, etc; a rule has to be necessarily passable of violation, id est, if it is nomologically impossible to violate what is presumed to be a rule, this rule is not what we think it is: it is not a rule, but actually a mere fact, a mere description of things. Well, if a rule supposes the existence of this possibility, therefore the knowledge of free will is accessible by a transcendental deduction of the existence of necessary attributes of a normative conception, and so, as language is fraught of ought, by a transcendental deduction of the necessity of singular terms and predicates' existence interchangeable, in conditions of coextensinality and referentiality through the pragmatic verification of the material inferential rules existence.
  • filipeffv
    14
    Positivism and Materialism are rare acceptable by philosophy of science; to reject metaphysics is condemn knowledge to mere faith, as proved Gödel to the logical positivists, with his theorems...
    Science *can't* prove and demonstrate itself; a system is just proved by an external system.
  • SnowyChainsaw
    52
    But you would have to assume that free will doesn't existfilipeffv

    Not necessarily. Free will could be a manifestation of the infinite possible outcomes of the reactions within the brain and that our "consciousness" is the brains method of controlling/reducing the number of outcomes. Or, it could be what we experience as our brains navigate the higher dimensions of time and attempt to interpret that information. Free will would be our ability to choose which possible path we take through higher dimensions.

    everything is a successive and progressive process of causes, it necessarily assumes a free first causefilipeffv

    I agree that there should be a first cause, just not necessarily a "free" one. In order to determine the nature of "the first cause" we must understand what came before. As the Big Bang Model suggests, nothing came before the first cause, which is perfectly plausible since nothingness is both unstable and infinite. Therefore, if the first cause is within what is possible, then it must be a part of nature.

    the chemical process of mind are not causes, but effectsfilipeffv

    As you said above, they as a successive process of cause and effects. Each cause creates an effect, and each effect is a cause that creates another effect. The distinction is redundant.

    As for the next section, i have to admit i don't really understand what you mean and will concede your point with a smile and slightly glazed look in my eye.


    The point of my whole thread (Physical vs. Non-Physical) was to question this distinction between what science can explain and what some other method can explain.Harry Hindu

    There are many explanations to what is and what is not and science is the best method we have so far come up with to find them regardless of whether the subject is physical, not physical, natural or super natural. This is because science is merely a method of analysis and can be applied to anything.
  • tom
    1.3k
    There are many explanations to what is and what is not and science is the best method we have so far come up with to find them regardless of whether the subject is physical, not physical, natural or super natural. This is because science is merely a method of analysis and can be applied to anything.SnowyChainsaw

    No. Science is defined by the Principle of Demarcation. Not everything we are interested in is falsifiable or testable.
  • Harry Hindu
    975
    Not everything we are interested in is falsifiable or testable.tom
    Of course, but if you want to determine which claims are more useful than others, and therefore more accurate, then they need to be testable and falsifiable, or else every claim has just as much validity as every other claim, which includes contradictory claims. When two claims contradict each other, how do you go about getting at which one is more accurate?
  • tom
    1.3k
    Of course, but if you want to determine which claims are more useful than others, and therefore more accurate, then they need to be testable and falsifiable, or else every claim has just as much validity as every other claim, which includes contradictory claims. When two claims contradict each other, how do you go about getting at which one is more accurate?Harry Hindu

    OK, so let's examine two claims, which are actually competing theories, which utilise identical equations:

    1. Underlying reality does not exist. The equations are purely epistemic.

    2. Underlying reality does exist. The equations correspond to elements of reality.

    Here we have a genuine situation where your criterion of accuracy is both philosophically and scientifically useless.

    And of course we have the age-old ideas:

    1. Only my mind exists.

    2. There exists a Reality independent of my mind.

    Science can't help you with that one.
  • SnowyChainsaw
    52
    No. Science is defined by the Principle of Demarcation. Not everything we are interested in is falsifiable or testable.tom

    This defines good science, i.e. a way science can produce the best possible results. However, you can still use the same scientific method regardless of what you are observing.

    1. Only my mind exists.

    2. There exists a Reality independent of my mind.

    Science can't help you with that one.
    tom

    Actually it can, we just don't know how to apply it yet. (Edit: how to make the necessary observations)
  • SnowyChainsaw
    52

    To answer it, all we need do is define a mind as a point in a system. Then, if we can define another mind we have two points and can build a model of the system to one dimension. All we need do then is define what properties differentiates the two minds based on the possible values of that dimension.

    You can use religion, speculation or the scientific model to do this, but only one of those things will produce accurate results. The only thing we are missing is an observed second mind.
  • creativesoul
    2.2k
    And of course we have the age-old ideas:

    1. Only my mind exists.

    2. There exists a Reality independent of my mind.

    Science can't help you with that one.
    tom

    Nor need it. The rock one throws at your head, when you're looking the other way, really hurts when it strikes you. If that isn't enough evidence that that rock is/was independent of your mind, then nothing could be.
  • Joshs
    183
    "social behavior is determined by the chemical and physical processes in the brain and that would indicate they are just as much a part of natural law as processes like gravity and the movement of planets."

    Most social scientists would agree with this.

    "These processes are just far too complex for us to fully understand yet and therefore seem random or unpredictable."

    That may be, but even with the development of more satisfying theories of psychological processes, would a complete reduction of phenomena at this level to the language of physics and chemistry really give us a useful way to predict and understand them?

    Does attempting to explain the software programs of a computer via a description of its hardware allow us to understand the content of the software?
    There are at least two ways of thinking about the relationship between hard science level descriptions and social science type descriptions.
    One can argue that while in principle social science phenomena must emerge out of the functioning of physical systems, one can not reduce one to the other without losing what is valuable from a predictive
    vantage in the higher level description.

    On the other hand, one could claim that the reason we cannot reduce the higher order descriptions to physical ones is because the lower order description is incomplete. For instance, physicist Lee Smolen
    suggests that the reason the meta-framework of physics and evolutionary biology are so different is not because the latter is 'just far too complex for us to fully understand yet and therefore seem random or unpredictable", but because physics is in need of a paradigm shift in the direction of an evolutionary discipllne.
  • tom
    1.3k
    Actually it can, we just don't know how to apply it yet. (Edit: how to make the necessary observations)SnowyChainsaw

    Actually, that is false. That "only my mind exists" is logically coherent and unfalsifiable, in principle.
  • tom
    1.3k
    Nor need it. The rock one throws at your head, when you're looking the other way, really hurts when it strikes you. If that isn't enough evidence that that rock is/was independent of your mind, then nothing could be.creativesoul

    No, it's not evidence of anything. My mind creates all phenomena.
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