• Agustino
    11.3k
    I can't think of any other reason why I would be interested in the veracity of the statement unless I intend to do something about itPseudonym
    So if usefulness is a reason to be interested in the veracity of a statement, that necessarily means that usefulness is not the same as veracity. Usefulness is merely what makes you interested whether a statement is true or not. So then the question naturally follows - what makes a statement true? I get that you become interested in its truth once you see how it is useful to you, but how do you find out about its truth-value?

    There are no metaphysical beliefs which have been proven to be true, there currently is no mechanism by which a metaphysical belief could be proven truePseudonym
    Please explain to me what you mean by "proven", since I don't understand what you're saying. I don't follow what it would take for a metaphysical statement to be 'proven' true.

    unfalsifiable premisePseudonym
    What is the problem with something being, at the time it is made, unfalsifiable? I thought that you, out of all people, who favour science over philosophy, would certainly realise that scientists do not follow Popper's vain philosophy - in fact, there have been numerous criticism of the latter amongst scientists. The Multiverse, for example, is not falsifiable at the time being. Should it be disconsidered? What about the multiple dimensions required by String theory? Or even Darwin's theory of evolution, who Karl Popper himself recognised is not scientific.

    "Ah, but did you not know that Kant accidentally misspelled 'Zwecke' in the first draft of the Critique of Practical Reason? No? Well I don't have to take any notice of anything you say then, you obviously know nothing about philosophy", it's a lazy cop out.Pseudonym
    Not knowing a word wasn't spelled correctly is different than not knowing the philosophical positions someone held to, and thinking they endorsed the OPPOSITE position of what they actually endorsed.

    If there's a sound argument against what Hawking has said, it should be easy to make, there should be no need to brandish his poor reading of Epicurus, only correct it.Pseudonym
    The problem is that Hawking, most likely, did not read Epicurus at all. It's not that he has a poor reading of him - he has no reading whatsoever.

    Hawking actually makes no argument against philosophy there. He just espouses his own view that models are valuable only in-so-far as they make predictions about the world. And he claims philosophy is dead. That's not enough.

    If it were, we would have to declare the whole of ethics a closed subject. Philosophers are no longer allowed to discuss it because they are not fully immersed in the details of neuroscience, and neuroscientists are not allowed to talk about it because they are not fully read up on philosophy.Pseudonym
    No, it doesn't follow from what I've been telling you. I don't know if neuroscience has anything valuable to say about ethics because I have not studied neuroscience. But I know that philosophy has some useful things to say, because I have studied philosophy. Therefore I can freely speak about ethics, what I cannot do is speak about whether neuroscience is capable or not to make contributions.

    Alternatively, we could just take people's statements seriously and if some lack of knowledge on their part is actually undermining their argument, we can point that out. If it isn't then we can stop using it as a stick to beat them with in order to avoid actually having to engage with them.Pseudonym
    What's there to engage with, with regards to Hawking for example? With regards to Hume, who said to commit metaphysics to the flames, there is a lot of possibility of engagement. He is making an argued position, but Hawking does not even understand what he is saying with regards to philosophy. He is not philosophically literate, how can he know philosophy is dead? That's ridiculous. He doesn't even know the most basic thing, which a first-year philosophy student can tell you, that Epicurus did not argue against materialism/atomism.

    This is basic science, we hold a theory that eating grass cures cancer, we test that theory in controlled trials during which we find out it doesn't, end of story.Pseudonym
    No. That's not the point. You said:

    I think perhaps we can agree there are laughably bad reasons for believing something on both sides of the argument, but if it works for them personally, then I don't think we have much authority to dismiss it.Pseudonym
    Now you're telling me that we should dismiss it if we test it with controlled trials and it proves false. Before, you told me that if it works for them personally, then we don't have much authority to dismiss it. Which is it? Clearly you can't have it both ways. Either we are able to determine something, or we're not, and it's up to each person what the truth is. There is no in-between here.

    same trick that SLX usedPseudonym
    It is not a trick. Clarifying what terms mean is important. I have no problem answering your questions. So there is no reason for you to hide behind this finger pointing. If you are not capable to answer the questions just tell us, it is okay.

    What does it even mean to ask what does it mean?Pseudonym
    It means that I want you to clarify what sense a particular term or belief has. What are its truth conditions, how do you determine them, etc.

    What would the answer to the question "what does it mean?" be like?Pseudonym
    Like the above.

    What are questions anyway? How do we know when we have answers? What do we even mean by 'answer'?...Pseudonym
    Questions are inquiries into something, a particular matter that, for whatever reason, we are interested in. We know we have answers when what is looked for in the question is found or understood. An answer is that piece of data which, when obtained, completes an inquiry or question. 5+x = 12. What is x? 7. What is the question? It is asking for what number completes the equation. How do we know we have the answer? By checking that it is a number, and by checking that when we add it to 5 we obtain 12. What is the answer? The number which can be placed instead of x.

    I presume you're wearing a black polo-neck, a beret, and chain-smoking in a French cafe whilst asking this?Pseudonym
    Absolutely :cool:

    That is an account of it.Pseudonym
    No. An account is a reason to believe it. That it is not contradictory or incoherent is NO REASON whatsoever. It's not contradictory or incoherent that the sun will not rise tomorrow, or will disappear, etc. That's not reason to believe it.

    That's because there isn't one.Pseudonym
    So then there isn't a reason not to make fun of scientism.

    It goes conclusion (the thing you've already decided to believe)->argument (to justify that belief)->testing/refinement of that argument (by debating with others).Pseudonym
    I am quite sure that is a fallacy called rationalization. So if that's how you operate, I certainly recommend a change of operating system.

    I simply don't believe that people derive their world-views from the strength of the argument in favour of it. They justify the world-view they've already decided they want.Pseudonym
    This makes absolutely no sense. It is ridiculous. Look at it. Re-read it. Look at it seriously. When someone is deciding on their view they must decide also on what it is that they want. It's not like our wants are immediately given - most of the time we don't know very well what we want. The process of forming a world-view helps clarify this. So it is absolutely preposterous to say that reasons just justify a worldview that is chosen a priori - no. If you look how this happens, you will see that the reasons and desires arise simultaneously, as the result of investigation.

    I believe this to because we have evolved to form models of the world and our brains simply do this without any concious thought.Pseudonym
    How did you arrive at holding this belief? What was, phenomenologically, the process?

    Suspending judgement until it is needed is a dangerous tacticPseudonym
    No. I've asked you to suspend judgement with regards to a theoretical matter, not a practical one.

    Take HIV testing. Let's say that you have had a possible exposure, so you do the test and it comes out negatively. Now two things ought to happen, rationally. On the one hand, from a practical point of view, you go on living as if you don't have HIV - meaning you don't suspend judgement, since that option is now significantly more likely. From a theoretical point of view though, you remain aware that sometimes the test really ought to be positive, but it comes out negative. So you keep an open mind - if in the future any circumstantial evidence comes up which could suggest HIV infection, in the absence of significantly more likely explanations, then you will redo the test. So theoretically, you do suspend judgement in such a situation.

    With regards to metaphysical beliefs, they are theoretical in nature. You will not die by suspending judgement on this. Why wouldn't you? This isn't the same as the train example you give, etc. These are theoretical beliefs. If it really is true and you don't have a reason to prefer naturalism over Cartesian dualism, then you ought to suspend judgement. That's the natural thing to do.
  • Nop
    25
    No, but;
    a) That is clearly not the case. Philosophical literature is not a series of questions (at least not since Plato) it is either a series of propositions supported by arguments from axioms, or a series of counter-arguments to dispute a previous proposition.

    Would it be fair to say that in making this claim, you reduce the history of philosophy and philosophical literature to analytic philosophy?

    Russell dismissed Russell's paradox, that's the point. He set out to provide a justification for our belief in mathematics and failed (by his own admission) to do so.

    So do you think that Russel´s attempt to ground mathematics in formal logic, has contributed to our understanding of the world, even though it failed?

    Nietzche (and his supporters) think he had a sound justification for his philosophy which rendered other philosophies false. That's an entirely different claim. The if you want to put them on the same footing you have to describe Nietzsche as having set out to justify a certain type of Nihilism but failed by his own admission to do so. Then I would say they could both be dismissed on the same grounds, but that's clearly not what happened

    What I see happening here is somebody interpreting Nietzsche from a Logical Positivist perspective. Nietzsche did not claim that his philosophy rendered other philosophies false, as Nietzsche isn't concerned with notions of ´truth´ and ´falsity´. This is expressed quite clearly in Beyond Good and Evil: “We do not consider the falsity of a judgment as itself an objection to a judgment; this is perhaps where our new language will sound most foreign”.

    There is nothing wrong with doing philosophy exclusively from a analytical perspective, though there does seem to be something wrong with projecting your own analytical perspective into philosophies such as Nietzsche. In any case, to stay on topic, reducing meaning to what is understood from a analytical perspective sounds like Scientism to me, since you express a opinion on Nietzsche, without making the effort to grasp his philosophy in his own terms. In my opinion, the derogatory meaning Scientism has to me is related to the closed-mindedness with which philosophy is approached. If you asked me something on Quine, I would be hesitant to make a statement as I dont feel like I grasp Quine in his own terms. I would not project my continental orientation onto Quine. You seem to be fine with making a claim on Nietzsche without grasping him in his own terms, which adds to the derogatory meaning Scientism has to me.
  • StreetlightX
    3.2k
    Oh come, let's not plonk analytic philosophy into the muck and mire of scientism, even if some of its quarters have been guilty of peddling it. For the most part it has more dignity than that.
  • Nop
    25
    Oh come, let's not plonk analytic philosophy into the muck and mire of scientism, even if some of its quarters have been guilty of peddling it. For the most part it has more dignity than that.

    I agree, though Scientism does seem to leech on analytic philosophy. Figures such as Stephen Priest who do analytic philosophy, would not make the claims Scientism makes, yet Scientism seem to invoke analytic philosophy.
  • StreetlightX
    3.2k
    Priest, but paradigmatically also Wilfrid Sellars, who famously and beautifully called for a synoptic fusion of both the scientific and manifest 'images of man', without which 'man himself would not survive'. This from one of the greatest granddaddies of the tradition.
  • Mariner
    316
    Alex Rosenberg (physicist) is a known proponent of "scientism".

    Check this very short essay about it:

    https://philpapers.org/archive/PIGISA
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Alex Rosenberg (physicist) is a known proponent of "scientism".Mariner
    Unfortunately Mariner, he is a philosopher, not a physicist :lol:
  • Mariner
    316
    Yep, freudian slip by me there. I intended to write "philosopher". But I guess my subconscious was aghast at the thought of doing it.
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    Yep, freudian slip by me there. I intended to write "philosopher". But I guess my subconscious was aghast at the thought of doing it.Mariner
    :lol: Sometimes one has to wonder how it is possible for seemingly learned people to uphold such ridiculous principles. However, I watched a debate between Rosenberg and W.L. Craig awhile ago, and in that interview Rosenberg kind of admitted that it is mostly an intellectual position he takes - so it's very possible that the book was written as a splash & marketing effort.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    Please explain to me what you mean by "proven", since I don't understand what you're saying. I don't follow what it would take for a metaphysical statement to be 'proven' true.Agustino

    I get that you become interested in its truth once you see how it is useful to you, but how do you find out about its truth-value?Agustino

    You can't, not in the dedective sense you're thinking of. I'm talking about abductive reasoning. I believe that when Agustino tells me he has $100 in his pocket, he has $100 in his pocket. Agustino has just told me he has $100 in his pocket, therefore he has $100 in his pocket. If, on several occasions I find that after you've declared that you have $100 in your pocket, you in fact don't have, then my theory is no longer useful. The truth value of whether you actually have $100 in your pocket at any given time doesn't enter into it, it's simply an unknown. It's the theory that has a utility value, not the results it predicts.

    I don't know. Its like asking what a Martian would look like and then claiming that I can't say I haven't seen one because I can't give a description of what it is I haven't seen. I haven't seen anything I would call a proof of a metaphysical theory. I know what isn't a proven metaphysical theory - one that perfectly intelligent people can provide rational reasons to disagree with for a start. That alone covers all of current metaphysics.

    That's not enough.Agustino

    Not enough for what?

    But I know that philosophy has some useful things to say, because I have studied philosophy.Agustino

    No, you think philosophy has some useful things to say. Peter Unger, a published professor of philosophy recently wrote a book detailing exactly how metaphysics says nothing at all of any value. He's definitely studied philosophy, so either he's lying, or you do not know the philosophy has some useful things to say because you have studied philosophy. You simply believe philosophy has some useful things to say and you have studied philosophy. The one did not cause the other, it was incidental to it.

    Therefore I can freely speak about ethics, what I cannot do is speak about whether neuroscience is capable or not to make contributions.Agustino

    Then I have no argument with you on that score. So what would you say if I asked you whether ballroom dancing had any meaningful contribution to the study of ethics? Still sitting on the fence because you don't know anything about ballroom dancing? What about sewage engineering? Anything meaningful to contribute to epistemology? Still can't say because you don't know the intricacies of sewage engineering?

    Clearly you can't have it both ways.Agustino

    Of course I can. The first theory is that eating grass cures cancer in that person, the second you are leaping to is that eating grass will cure cancer in other people. Two different theories. We've already tested the first. To test the second we'd need some other people.

    It means that I want you to clarify what sense a particular term or belief has. What are its truth conditions, how do you determine them, etc.Agustino

    What do you mean by 'clarify'? What is the 'sense' of a term? What do you mean by 'truth conditions'? And what would constitute having 'determined' them?

    Questions are inquiries into something, a particular matter that, for whatever reason, we are interested in.Agustino

    What is an 'inquiry'?

    We know we have answers when what is looked for in the question is found or understood.Agustino

    What does it mean to 'find' what is looked for and how do we know it has been understood?

    An account is a reason to believe it. That it is not contradictory or incoherent is NO REASON whatsoever. It's not contradictory or incoherent that the sun will not rise tomorrow, or will disappear, etc. That's not reason to believe it.Agustino

    OK, so what is a reason to believe something?

    I am quite sure that is a fallacy called rationalization. So if that's how you operate, I certainly recommend a change of operating system.Agustino

    I'm quite sure that's a fallacy called rationalization too, doesn't mean its not what everyone is doing nonetheless.

    This makes absolutely no sense. It is ridiculous. Look at it. Re-read it. Look at it seriously. When someone is deciding on their view they must decide also on what it is that they want.Agustino

    You're presuming that people decide what they want. If they do, what criteria do they use to decide? What they want to want? then how do they decide that? What they want to want to want?

    It's not like our wants are immediately givenAgustino

    Where do they come from then?

    This makes absolutely no sense. It is ridiculous. Look at it. Re-read it. Look at it seriously. ... If you look how this happens, you will see that the reasons and desires arise simultaneously, as the result of investigation.Agustino

    And we're back the the SLX approach, no actual argument, no evidence brought forward, just 'look at it, re-read it' like the only reason you can think of that I might hold a different view to you is that I can't have looked at it properly. Are you even considering the possibility that you might not have looked at it properly?

    How did you arrive at holding this belief? What was, phenomenologically, the process?Agustino

    I can give an account if you like, but I think phenomenology is nothing but the study of the random stories our concious brain makes up to make sense of the disparate and often contradictory messages we receive from the various parts of the brain so I hold absolutely no useful information is contained there. My experience, however, goes something like - All the people I know who seem intelligent in areas I can judge also seem to believe that we evolved through a process of evolution through natural selection so I find myself drawn to that opinion, I check it is not utter nonsense against empirical observations and find it isn't, so I'm happy to hold that belief. I wonder how our brains work, philosopher disagree on just about every aspect of that question and I can't see any mechanism by which they could know in any way that could actually make useful predictions, so I turn to neuroscientists. I might first have a theory that I'm in charge, but find no reason why I should be (given the evolutionary theory earlier adopted) and no evidence of that in neuroscience. Again, I listen to people I trust developing theories I already seem drawn to like David Eagleman and Bruce Hood, they seem like they should know what they're talking about and have no reason to develop a theory which contradicts empirical observation, so I'm happy to adopt their theories for now.

    No. I've asked you to suspend judgement with regards to a theoretical matter, not a practical one.Agustino

    I know, but my instinctive brain doesn't, hence it wants me to decide.

    If it really is true and you don't have a reason to prefer naturalism over Cartesian dualism, then you ought to suspend judgement. That's the natural thing to do.Agustino

    Why? What benefit is it to me to suspend judgement? I'm obviously not going to maintain my view in the face of empirical evidence or a model which better predicts the world, that's exactly the scientific approach I've adopted, so what possible benefit is it to me to suspend judgement, on what grounds do you determine that it's the 'natural' thing to do, and what exactly would someone whose suspending judgement sound like on a forum such as this? Do you read any comments which are suspending judgement about the question of whether philosophy has anything meaningful to say here?

    I know that philosophy has some useful things to say,Agustino
    Clarifying what terms mean is important.Agustino
    It is ridiculous.Agustino
    An account is a reason to believe it. That it is not contradictory or incoherent is NO REASON whatsoever.Agustino
    it is absolutely preposterous to say that reasons just justify a worldview that is chosen a priori - no.Agustino

    Do they sound like someone suspending judgement when faced with an opposing world-view?
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    Would it be fair to say that in making this claim, you reduce the history of philosophy and philosophical literature to analytic philosophy?Nop

    “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    “There are no facts, only interpretations.”
    ― Friedrich Nietzsche

    “To be happy, we must not be too concerned with others.”
    ― Albert Camus

    “The evil that is in the world almost always comes from ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.”
    ― Albert Camus

    “Life has no meaning a priori… It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.”
    ― Jean-Paul Sartre

    Sound like questions to you? They sound an awful lot like a series of propositions to me.

    So do you think that Russel´s attempt to ground mathematics in formal logic, has contributed to our understanding of the world, even though it failed?Nop

    No, we act no differently now than we did before Principa Mathematica was even started. How can it possibly have contributed to our understanding of the world? Maths does exactly the same job now as it has always done. People still act as if maths were real, so the idea that it is founded in something is still around and new arguments have come about as to how that concept might be supported. Our ability to predict remains unchanged, our attitudes towards one another unaltered, I can't observe a single change that has happened in the world as a result of Russell's investigation. It's interesting, but the world would be no worse off without it.

    Nietzsche isn't concerned with notions of ´truth´ and ´falsity´.Nop

    So is the statement
    “We do not consider the falsity of a judgment as itself an objection to a judgment; this is perhaps where our new language will sound most foreign”.Nop
    neither true nor false then? If so, why would we act in any way on it, what does reading it give us if it is neither true nor false?

    you express a opinion on Nietzsche, without making the effort to grasp his philosophy in his own terms.Nop

    And your opinion on, say, Rosenberg (a self-proclaimed Scientismist) is based on an effort to grasp his philosophy in it's own terms. Have you read his papers? Do you 'understand' them in their own terms? You seem quote happy nonetheless to reach the conclusion that Scientism approaches philosophy with "closed-mindedness". I'm curious as to how you think you can support that assessment after only a cursory look at the claims these people are making from your self-professed 'continental' perspective.
  • Nop
    25
    Sound like questions to you? They sound an awful lot like a series of propositions to me.

    I did not say there are no propositions. I said you reduce the history of philosophy to propositions. Just like you now reduce Nietzsche and Sartre to propositions by using quote's out of context. It is possible to distill propositions from Nietzsche's and Sartre's texts. The phrase “There are no facts, only interpretations” is not a proposition, as Nietzsche did not make the claim that this phrase is 'true'. The whole point is that he is avoiding making a truthfull proposition. It is something else than a proposition, when you read the phase in the context of the book as a whole.

    The Sartre quote is a proposition as Sartre is trying to say something which he believes to be 'true'. I could now find a quote of Foucault to show you that Foucault is more interested in questions than answers. But my point is not that there are more philosophers which are more interested in questions than answers. My point is that there are philosophers in the history of philosophy, which were not interested in proposing propositions. Of which Nietzsche was one.

    No, we act no differently now than we did before Principa Mathematica was even started. How can it possibly have contributed to our understanding of the world?

    So only practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge which can be translated into practice can contribute to our understanding of the world?

    So is the statement

    “We do not consider the falsity of a judgment as itself an objection to a judgment; this is perhaps where our new language will sound most foreign”. — Nop

    neither true nor false then? If so, why would we act in any way on it, what does reading it give us if it is neither true nor false?

    That is the question which Nietzsche asks when undermining the notion of 'truth'. Welcome to the difficulties of philosophy.

    And your opinion on, say, Rosenberg (a self-proclaimed Scientismist) is based on an effort to grasp his philosophy in it's own terms. Have you read his papers? Do you 'understand' them in their own terms? You seem quote happy nonetheless to reach the conclusion that Scientism approaches philosophy with "closed-mindedness". I'm curious as to how you think you can support that assessment after only a cursory look at the claims these people are making from your self-professed 'continental' perspective.

    I have no idea who Rosenberg is. Did not say anything about him. I was talking about you and the statements you made in this threat, as I took you as a Scientism-ist.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    The phrase “There are no facts, only interpretations” is not a proposition, as Nietzsche did not make the claim that this phrase is 'true'.Nop

    And yet Hawking's claim "philosophy is dead" or Unger's claim that "philosophers proceed to write up these stories, and they’re under the impression that they’re saying something new and interesting about how it is about the world, when in fact this is all an illusion.", or when Rosenberg claims that "Science is the best tool to discover reality" ; these are propositions such that you could claim them to be false? What exactly is it about the context that you are using to divine whether a person is making a statement and claiming it to be 'true' or whether they are just... Whatever it is Nietzsche is doing... Making conversation?

    So only practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge which can be translated into practice can contribute to our understanding of the world?Nop

    Yes, how else will we know if it is 'understanding' and not just 'stuff we reckon'?

    That is the question which Nietzsche asks when undermining the notion of 'truth'.Nop

    Nietzsche can't undermine a notion by asking a question, he can only undermine a notion by demonstrating it to be false. I don't undermine the notion that rain is wet just by saying "yes, but is it?".

    was talking about you and the statements you made in this threat, as I took you as a Scientism-ist.Nop

    I am, and we're back to the claims you made at the opening of your post. What is it that compels you to 'correct' my claims, which you've clearly taken to be truth claims (although I don't consider them to be) and yet when considering Nietzsche he is afforded the generous self-immunising status of one who is merely saying stuff, not actual propositions, so we can't point out how useless it is.
  • Nop
    25
    And yet Hawking's claim "philosophy is dead" or Unger's claim that "philosophers proceed to write up these stories, and they’re under the impression that they’re saying something new and interesting about how it is about the world, when in fact this is all an illusion.", or when Rosenberg claims that "Science is the best tool to discover reality" ; these are propositions such that you could claim them to be false? What exactly is it about the context that you are using to divine whether a person is making a statement and claiming it to be 'true' or whether they are just... Whatever it is Nietzsche is doing... Making conversation?

    Fairly straightforward, if Hawking claims that he is making a true proposition, I take him at his word. If Nietzsche is claiming that he is not concerned with 'truth' and 'falsity', I take him at his word.

    Yes, how else will we know if it is 'understanding' and not just 'stuff we reckon'?

    That depends on what you mean by understanding. I suppose understanding to you means something like correspondence with reality. Then yes, you are right (as you always are if you think exclusively from your own perspective). Though Nietzsche rejects correspondence theories (he has a different perspective, a thing which Scientism finds hard to grasp in general).

    Nietzsche can't undermine a notion by asking a question, he can only undermine a notion by demonstrating it to be false. I don't undermine the notion that rain is wet just by saying "yes, but is it?".

    From your Logical Positivist perspective, I suppose that is true. Though Genealogy is not Logical Positivism. Lets replace the example you used to clarify: if Nietzsche questions the justificational force associated with the notion 'truth', showing its contingents roots in history, he problematizes the justificational force associated with the notion 'truth' as being self-evident. Thus, asking a question using Genealogy can undermine at the very least the self-evident nature of a notion, which problematizes the notion in general.

    Again, you are exemplifying what Scientism means to me. You think from a Logical Positivist perspective, have not invested serious time into understanding Nietzsche and Genealogy in general, yet make bold claims about Nietzsche. When he is doing something (asking Genological questions) that doesn't fit in your own perspective, you say that "Nietzsche can't".
  • Agustino
    11.3k
    You can't, not in the dedective sense you're thinking of. I'm talking about abductive reasoning.Pseudonym
    No, you simply don't know what you're talking about at this point. Finding the truth value of a statement requires observation of the world primarily, and has little to do with deductive, inductive, or abductive reasoning. Those get started based on other truths that you know.

    I believe that when Agustino tells me he has $100 in his pocket, he has $100 in his pocket. Agustino has just told me he has $100 in his pocket, therefore he has $100 in his pocket. If, on several occasions I find that after you've declared that you have $100 in your pocket, you in fact don't have, then my theory is no longer useful.Pseudonym
    You're just telling me about how to rationally make use of beliefs - you're telling me nothing about how to find out if I have $100 in my wallet. One way is to take my wallet and look into it - ever thought about that?

    I don't know. Its like asking what a Martian would look like and then claiming that I can't say I haven't seen one because I can't give a description of what it is I haven't seen. I haven't seen anything I would call a proof of a metaphysical theory. I know what isn't a proven metaphysical theory - one that perfectly intelligent people can provide rational reasons to disagree with for a start. That alone covers all of current metaphysics.Pseudonym
    If you're looking for something, you must know what you are looking for, otherwise even if you find it you will not know that you have found it. So this needs to be settled. If I am looking for a Martian, I know what I am looking for - I am looking at minimum for a living creature from the planet Mars.

    So don't blame me for your own inability to form a concept of what truth would be in regards to metaphysical theories. That's your own inability to even form a concept of it, no wonder you can't find it, when you don't even know what it is you're looking for! My God! How could you even find it?

    Not enough for what?Pseudonym
    Not enough to prove philosophy is dead.

    No, you think philosophy has some useful things to say.Pseudonym
    No, I maintain that I know that.

    Peter Unger, a published professor of philosophy recently wrote a book detailing exactly how metaphysics says nothing at all of any value.Pseudonym
    Oh reallllyyyy? I've read some of Unger's work and I don't remember him being a Positivist.

    So what would you say if I asked you whether ballroom dancing had any meaningful contribution to the study of ethics?Pseudonym
    I have no a priori reason to believe that ballroom dancing can provide a meaningful contribution to ethics. But neuroscience being the study of the mind, and the mind being absolutely central to ethical concerns (when someone feels pain, etc.), then I am not sure that neuroscience may not provide contributions.

    We've already tested the first.Pseudonym
    If you think that means we have tested it, then you don't understand what testing something means scientifically.

    What do you mean by 'clarify'? What is the 'sense' of a term? What do you mean by 'truth conditions'? And what would constitute having 'determined' them?Pseudonym
    I can answer all these questions, but you're not serious anymore. So I won't bother. You clearly are running out of meaningful things to say, and so you resort to this pretence of an engagement with what is being said to you.

    I'm quite sure that's a fallacy called rationalization too, doesn't mean its not what everyone is doing nonetheless.Pseudonym
    So presumably you are aware that you are engaged in this fallacy. Why don't you stop then? If you are aware, you can stop. You can say, I will stop with these stupid rationalizations, regardless of what other people are doing, and I will suspend judgement, because I know no better. That's the honest thing to do in your situation.

    You're presuming that people decide what they want. If they do, what criteria do they use to decide?Pseudonym
    A whole host of criteria. One simple criteria is that they feel hungry and they want to eradicate the pain of hunger, so they want to eat. And so on.

    Where do they come from then?Pseudonym
    From our biology, from our psychology, from our understanding - all these places.

    Are you even considering the possibility that you might not have looked at it properly?Pseudonym
    Sure, unlike you I am considering that possibility. I haven't seen you consider that possibility. In fact, you recognise that you have no reason to be a naturalist over and above a Cartesian Dualist, but yet, lo and behold, you stick blindly with one of them.

    the random stories our concious brain makes upPseudonym
    This "random" story is quite coherent, that's why you're capable to have goals, pursue them, and fulfil them most of the time. If you want to find food, you know to go look in the fridge. So it's not a "random" story at all. You really should think more about what you are saying.

    All the people I know who seem intelligent in areas I can judge also seem to believe that we evolved through a process of evolution through natural selection so I find myself drawn to that opinion, I check it is not utter nonsense against empirical observations and find it isn't, so I'm happy to hold that belief. I wonder how our brains work, philosopher disagree on just about every aspect of that question and I can't see any mechanism by which they could know in any way that could actually make useful predictions, so I turn to neuroscientists. I might first have a theory that I'm in charge, but find no reason why I should be (given the evolutionary theory earlier adopted) and no evidence of that in neuroscience.Pseudonym
    Accepting evolution has almost zero to do with naturalism. You can be a theist and accept evolution. Also accepting evolution has nothing to do with believing in freedom or in strict determinism.

    I know, but my instinctive brain doesn't, hence it wants me to decide.Pseudonym
    So can't you disobey? You are aware of it, so this isn't a reflex that you cannot stop, the way if I hit your knee with a hammer you cannot but move your leg. So you are aware of it. You are aware that you are doing something irrational and are engaged in a logical fallacy. So stop it.

    Why? What benefit is it to me to suspend judgement?Pseudonym
    You'd be more rational to begin with?

    I'm obviously not going to maintain my view in the face of empirical evidence or a model which better predicts the world, that's exactly the scientific approach I've adoptedPseudonym
    :rofl: - for real? Until now you were telling me that your instinctive brain forces you to accept it. So now you've dropped that ridiculous theory?

    Do you read any comments which are suspending judgement about the question of whether philosophy has anything meaningful to say here?Pseudonym
    Sure, that's what happens when I read Sextus Empiricus for example.

    Do they sound like someone suspending judgement when faced with an opposing world-view?Pseudonym
    No, YOU should suspend judgement because you claim that you have no way to distinguish the truth of metaphysical propositions. I don't make that claim, so I am under no obligation to suspend judgement, since I affirm that I can determine the truth of metaphysical propositions.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    No, you simply don't know what you're talking about at this point.Agustino

    Well that didn't take long did it, we're back to just insulting your opponent's intelligence - "You don't know what you're talking about"..."No you don't"..."No you don't". I'm not wasting my time on this type of playground argument.

    Finding the truth value of a statement requires observation of the world primarily,Agustino

    No, because you still need a theory which ties you subjective experience of those observations to the objective reality you posit exists.

    One way is to take my wallet and look into it - ever thought about that?Agustino

    Firstly, I'm in England, bit tricky to look in your wallet. Secondly, as above I'd still need a theory which tied my subjective experience of seeing $100 dollar to my proposition that $100 existed in objective reality. Have you never heard of optical illusions? Seeing the $100 would put me in exactly the same situation as I described. I would have toa priori hold a theory about the relationship between my observations and reality, therefore conclude a 'truth' resulting from both my actual observation coupled with my theory about how such observations relate to reality. There is no way to access reality directly other then through theories which model it.

    If you're looking for something, you must know what you are looking for, otherwise even if you find it you will not know that you have found it. So this needs to be settled. If I am looking for a Martian, I know what I am looking for - I am looking at minimum for a living creature from the planet Mars.Agustino

    You can't observe that a creature is from Mars, you have to infer that fact. So how do you infer such a fact when you don't know what features would indicate that a thing is from Mars?

    Oh reallllyyyy? I've read some of Unger's work and I don't remember him being a Positivist.Agustino

    No, well done, I just made that up, but you caught me out, nice work Sherlock! Google 'Empty Ideas'.

    I have no a priori reason to believe that ballroom dancing can provide a meaningful contribution to ethics.Agustino

    Are you seriously suggesting that your opinion about ballroom dancing is a priori?

    If you think that means we have tested it, then you don't understand what testing something means scientifically.Agustino

    I never said I was testing it scientifically, that's the whole point.

    I can answer all these questions, but you're not serious anymore. So I won't bother. You clearly are running out of meaningful things to say, and so you resort to this pretence of an engagement with what is being said to you.Agustino

    Nice cop out.

    So presumably you are aware that you are engaged in this fallacy. Why don't you stop then? If you are aware, you can stop. You can say, I will stop with these stupid rationalizations, regardless of what other people are doing, and I will suspend judgement, because I know no better.Agustino

    "Man can do whatever he wills, but he cannot will what he wills"

    A whole host of criteria. One simple criteria is that they feel hungry and they want to eradicate the pain of hunger, so they want to eat. And so on.Agustino

    So did they want to be hungry?

    In fact, you recognise that you have no reason to be a naturalist over and above a Cartesian Dualist, but yet, lo and behold, you stick blindly with one of them.Agustino

    I have a perfectly good reason to be a Naturalist over a Cartesian Dualist. I like Naturalism.

    This "random" story is quite coherent, that's why you're capable to have goals, pursue them, and fulfil them most of the time. If you want to find food, you know to go look in the fridge. So it's not a "random" story at all. You really should think more about what you are saying.Agustino

    Back to the insults again. Read David Eagleman, Bruce Hood, Vilynor Ramachandran .. basically any neuroscientists or modern psychologist, then come back and discuss whether the stories our concious brain makes up are actually coherent. You don't even see half the world, your peripheral vision is actually black and white (your brain just makes up the colours), stuff can happen right before your eyes and your brain just blanks it out if it wasn't expecting it, your memories can be manipulated and even implanted just by suggestion, self-reports of just about any sensation you care to mention are universally shown to be inaccurate. Your brain is just making this all up.

    Accepting evolution has almost zero to do with naturalism. You can be a theist and accept evolution. Also accepting evolution has nothing to do with believing in freedom or in strict determinism.Agustino

    Have you read anything I've written? I'm not claiming that any set of empirical data 'proves' any metaphysical position. Of course you can be theist and believe in evolution. You can twist any set of evidence to support any metaphysical position, that's the point of what I've been saying all along. No metaphysical position can be demonstrated to be better than any other, no evidence can be brought which cannot also be twisted to support the other argument, no logic can be applied for which there is no counter-argument, nothing whatsoever can be done to demonstrate that one metaphysical position is better then another, only the arguments for them can be improved, but never defeated.

    So can't you disobey? You are aware of it, so this isn't a reflex that you cannot stop, the way if I hit your knee with a hammer you cannot but move your leg.Agustino

    Yes, that's right. Again, I advise you take a look at literally any psychological experiment ever.

    You'd be more rational to begin with?Agustino

    And what benefit would that bring me?

    :rofl: - for real? Until now you were telling me that your instinctive brain forces you to accept it. So now you've dropped that ridiculous theory?Agustino

    No, I said 'wants', not 'forces'.

    I affirm that I can determine the truth of metaphysical propositions.Agustino

    Well, that's settled then. If you have some magic way of determining the truth of metaphysical propositions, then its pointless discussing them with you isn't, just use your magic and tell us all what's right and what's wrong. Do you seriously think you're more capable than Kant, Hume, Strawson, Wittgenstein, Russell, Unger, Carnap, all of whom vehemently disagree with each other about the very propositions you're claiming to have worked out the truth of?
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    Fairly straightforward, if Hawking claims that he is making a true proposition, I take him at his word. If Nietzsche is claiming that he is not concerned with 'truth' and 'falsity', I take him at his word.Nop

    Well, that's very magnanimous of you. If Hawking claims he's making a truth statement, I take it to be brave attempt to further our understanding, If Nietzsche claims he's not interested in Truth or falsity, I tend to think he's talking rubbish in order to immunise himself form criticism so he can spout whatever garbage comes into his head and not have to worry about whether it's actually true or not. But maybe I'm just cynical.

    Though Nietzsche rejects correspondence theories (he has a different perspective, a thing which Scientism finds hard to grasp in general).Nop

    Interesting, How exactly does he reject correspondence theories if he's not interested in truth and falsity. Does he reject them because he doesn't like them much?

    if Nietzsche questions the justificational force associated with the notion 'truth', showing its contingents roots in history, he problematizes the justificational force associated with the notion 'truth' as being self-evident.Nop

    No, he only does that with the answer to his question, not the question. He presumes that the question is a valid one, otherwise it is again like me asking if the speed of light really is 299,792,458 m/s. I don't undermine anything by asking. But ultimately, I have no problem with the idea that there is no such thing as 'Truth'. If you read the rest of my posts, that's exactly what I've been saying. It's the idea that some philosopher truthfully has something meaningful to say that I'm arguing against. The statement that all philosophy is just empty ideas is either a perfectly reasonable statement to make, or it is you who are claiming some 'truth' value. The 'truth' that philosophy in fact does have something meaningful to say.

    All I've evr tried to argue in this whole post is that the idea that philosophy does not have anything meaningful to say, that no philosophical position can be shown to be 'better' than any other, is a reasonable position, not that it's true. It's everyone else who are arguing that the position is not even a reasonable one, that the meaningfulness of philosophy is such a verifiable 'true' fact that it is not even possible to hold the opinion that it isn't and remain rational.

    Again, you are exemplifying what Scientism means to me. You think from a Logical Positivist perspective, have not invested serious time into understanding Nietzsche and Genealogy in general, yet make bold claims about Nietzsche.Nop

    So have you read all of Alex Rosenberg's works? Peter Unger?, JJ Smart? Yet you seem quite happy to cast aspersions about what Scientism is, what it can and cannot grasp, the intentions and limitations of its proponents.
  • Nop
    25
    Dubblepost
  • Nop
    25
    Well, that's very magnanimous of you. If Hawking claims he's making a truth statement, I take it to be brave attempt to further our understanding, If Nietzsche claims he's not interested in Truth or falsity, I tend to think he's talking rubbish in order to immunise himself form criticism so he can spout whatever garbage comes into his head and not have to worry about whether it's actually true or not. But maybe I'm just cynical.

    Nobody can force you to do philosophy that falls outside of Logical Positivism. And nobody can force you to invest time into understanding the position you are attacking. Thus, the discussion on Nietzsche becomes a dead-end, as we are not talking about the same Nietszche.

    Interesting, How exactly does he reject correspondence theories if he's not interested in truth and falsity. Does he reject them because he doesn't like them much?

    Yes, as Nietzsche wrote: ¨I shall abandon correspondence theories, as I dont like them much¨. It seems you have invested more time into Nietzsche than I thought, my apologies. Back on a serious note: Nietzsche rejects the value of certain notions, not based on the fact that they are false, but on the idea that they are dangerous to human flourishing. But I dont see how me explaining Nietzsche to you is helping this discussion.

    No, he only does that with the answer to his question, not the question. He presumes that the question is a valid one, otherwise it is again like me asking if the speed of light really is 299,792,458 m/s. I don't undermine anything by asking.

    Then you reject the method of Genealogy, which deals with questions to undermine the self-evident associations related to certain notions. And that is fine, you can reject Genealogy based on the idea that you believe questions cannot undermine anything. Yet this does exemplify what I understand to be Scientism, and why to me, it has a degoratory sense. Namely, because you have decided what is meaningful to you (critera you adopted from Logical Positivism) and refuse to see things from any other perspective. It is, in a sense, like clinging onto a language game (and one that hasn't been taken seriously in academic philosophy in a long time).

    So have you read all of Alex Rosenberg's works? Peter Unger?, JJ Smart? Yet you seem quite happy to cast aspersions about what Scientism is, what it can and cannot grasp, the intentions and limitations of its proponents.

    I have no idea who those people are. As I said, right now I am only reacting to what you are saying, who I take to be a Scientism-ist.
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    nobody can force you to invest time into understanding the position you are attackingNop

    You've mistaken my position, and that of the Logical Positivists for that matter. The claim, that this bulk of philosophical statements are meaningless, is not made on the grounds of having looked for some meaningful statements and found none. Were it made on those grounds you could justifiably say "well you haven't looked here, or you haven't understood the meaning here" and make the claim that we should read Nietzsche (or do so again, but more charitably). But that's not the argument that's being made. The argument is that philosophy, simply by virtue of it's means of investigation, cannot say anything meaningful in that way. This claim does not require anyone to read or understand the results of those investigations, the argument is not about the result, the argument is about the means. As I said to Agustino, you do not need to know anything about the pronouncements of ballroom dancing judges to know that it doesn't have anything meaningful to say about ethics. You can argue that it has nothing meaningful to say about ethics simply on the grounds that examining a couple's dancing and comparing that to a series of 'perfect' set moves with an added element of innovation will not yield any meaningful information about ethics. You do not need to know or understand the information it actually does yield in order to make this judgement.

    So Logical Positivists (or rather their descendants) are making the claim that the methods of philosophical investigation are such that in most contexts it can yield no meaningful statements. You feel quite at liberty to dismiss that proposition in derogatory terms despite that fact that you admit to not having read any of the arguments which support it, and yet you demand that anyone making the proposition not only read all the arguments against it, but all the results of the investigations which took place under the presumption that the proposition is false.

    This is like demanding that someone who wishes to make the claim that the astrology is meaningless read, not only all the arguments of astrologers, but all the star-sign predictions that have been written presuming astrology is true, all the while allowing that the astrologers demean normal predictive sciences without having read anything about them.

    When faced with this kind of argument, philosophers always seem to retreat to the "meaningful to the individual" position - the one you're taking now. That I'm falsely determining that because it's not meaningful to me, by my criteria, it's not meaningful objectively. They claim that because philosophy might be meaningful to someone, it is therefore valid. This is all very well, but then philosophy cannot have it's cake and eat it. If the claim is that a text must only be meaningful to someone, in order to be taken seriously, then Harry Potter is a work of philosophy, lots of people find the struggle written there meaningful, especially school kids dealing with the same issues on a less fantastical scale. But when it comes to entry to, and discussion of, the philosophical canon, philosophy reverses it's subjective "meaning to someone" definition and tries to hold an objective "this is good, this is bad" position. It cannot be both. Either arguments are good or bad based on objective criteria (in which case it is possible to critique those criteria without having to read all the arguments based on them) or it is not good or bad at all and no meaningful discussion can take place on those grounds.
  • Nop
    25
    You've mistaken my position, and that of the Logical Positivists for that matter. The claim, that this bulk of philosophical statements are meaningless, is not made on the grounds of having looked for some meaningful statements and found none. Were it made on those grounds you could justifiably say "well you haven't looked here, or you haven't understood the meaning here" and make the claim that we should read Nietzsche (or do so again, but more charitably). But that's not the argument that's being made. The argument is that philosophy, simply by virtue of it's means of investigation, cannot say anything meaningful in that way.

    It is exactly the same argument. Logicial Positivsm accuses philosophical works of being meaningless, on the grounds that it doesn't meet the verification principle. Thus, Logicial Positivsm assumes criteria regarding meaning, and subsequently simply employs it. Everything that doesn't meet the verification principle, is meaningless.

    You are doing the same. You assume criteria regarding meaning, and reject Nietzsche on the grounds that he doesn't meet your criteria (and to make things worse, all this without actually reading him). It is closed-minded. You have decided in advance what you assume to be meaningful, and subsequently only employ that assumption. The closed-mindedness of Logicial Positivsm is exactly the same as your Scientism.

    As I said to Agustino, you do not need to know anything about the pronouncements of ballroom dancing judges to know that it doesn't have anything meaningful to say about ethics.

    Do you honestly think comparing the capacity of ballroom dancing judges to say something meaningful regarding ethics, with philosophy, the discipline that has invented contemplation on ethics, is a useful comparison?

    So Logical Positivists (or rather their descendants) are making the claim that the methods of philosophical investigation are such that in most contexts it can yield no meaningful statements. You feel quite at liberty to dismiss that proposition in derogatory terms despite that fact that you admit to not having read any of the arguments which support it, and yet you demand that anyone making the proposition not only read all the arguments against it, but all the results of the investigations which took place under the presumption that the proposition is false

    Couple of points here:
    (1) Not sure why you attribute this to me, but I have not said I did not read any of the arguments which support Logical Positivism. To be precise, I have invested time into Carnap and Schlick, so we could go into their arguments supporting Logical Positivism if you like.
    (2) Nietzsche did not presume that Logical Positivism is false. Logical Positivism emerged around 1920. Nietzsche died in 1900.
    (3) I am not assuming Logical Positivism is false, I understand that it is false. One of the key principles of Logical Positivsm was the analytic/synthetic gap. If you read ¨Two Dogmas of Empiricism¨ by Quine, you see that the distinction is untenable.

    And I am sorry to say, but the fact you are not aware that since Quine, Logical Positivism is untenable, only shows how you have a big opinion on something you have invested little time in. Its what you read and learn in any first year bachelor of philosophy.

    If the claim is that a text must only be meaningful to someone, in order to be taken seriously,

    Philosophy is a academic discipline. Which text must be taken seriously is not only decided by the individual (i.e. you want to take Harry Potter seriously), you are also bound to the language game (in a Wittgensteinian sense) of the discipline. You presume there are only two kinds of critera: subjective and objective. I want to introduce Wittgenstein here, but I am afraid you are unaware of how, at least in acadamic philosophy, Wittgenstein replaced the subjective objective distinction when it comes to meaning, and that I will become trapped in explaining Wittgenstein and its current hold on philosophy to you.
  • steppo25
    4
    "Scientism" is a derogatory label of the "scientific method"
    Either means that the Scientist can track their physical Statement WORLD3 back to the physical world WORLD1 which is the causal agency AT the creation of WORLD3 which is all that is perceivably manmade in this respect, which is mostly the written word, the statement.
    The Scientist REJECTS any attributation of "causal agency" to the "world-of-thoughts" WORLD2 which is nothing else than the properties of matter.

    The properties of matter are mere illusions. It is only KANT who akknowledged, that "space" and "time" are illusions - unfortunately he did NOT akknowledge that "space" (volume OF matter that is) and "time" (age of matter FROM a change that is) are nothing else than properties of matter, together with a lot more other properties of matter, like mass and energy. I am the author of the listing which summarizes the properties of matter in 4 lines. Nobody will find this listing ANYWHERE.

    WORLD2 = mere inside-brain effects-, perception-hoods, thoughts-, awareness-, consciousness-, Knowledge-, concepts-, descriptions-, properties- = subjective truths- = opinions-, epiphaenomena- = illusions-,
    ON-, OF-, obtained/acquired FROM-, ABOUT-
    outside-brain causal agency aka Facts; the physical; object[IVE Template outside the brain], matter, the cosmos.

    WORLD2 is comprised of
    1)ALL sensations, emotions, values, necessities, purposes, wills
    2)ALL numbers, constants, parameters in the language of mathematics and physics,
    mass, distance, area, space, time, velocity, acceleration, force, pressure, power, energy, temperature
    3)ALL laws, of legislature, of logic, of morality, of physics
    4)ALL those and ONLY those G-Ds we DO [mean to] know, like YHWH, J(the)C and Allah.

    Scientific method: Accepts that you cannot demonstrate a causal agency of ANY of the Elements of WORLD2 as listed above.

    Religious method: Claims that at least certain Elements of WORLD2 -
    A)be entities in independent existence outside the brain rather than fabricated inside the brain
    B)be causal agencies
  • Pseudonym
    1.2k
    Thus, Logicial Positivsm assumes criteria regarding meaning, and subsequently simply employs it. Everything that doesn't meet the verification principle, is meaningless.Nop

    Why do you accuse Logical Positivism of 'assuming' criteria regarding meaning. I think positivists over the years have written a quite some length detailing the exact argument as to why they consider that meaning is only present in verifiable statements. They haven't just 'assumed' it.

    You assume criteria regarding meaning, and reject Nietzsche on the grounds that he doesn't meet your criteriaNop

    As above, I haven't just 'assumed' it, I've asserted it with some arguments outlined here, but mostly off the back of the work done by modern positivists, none of whom you seem to have even heard of (let alone read) but all of whose conclusions you seem nonetheless willing to dismiss, not only as wrong, but as so wrong as to be deserving of derision.

    Let me be clear so we don't keep going round in circles.

    Positivists argue (by substantial logical argument) that we do not need to know the content of a philosophical work in order to determine its meaningfulness, we only need to know the methods by which it has been derived.

    You (and philosophers like you, I'm not sure if there's a collective term) argue, with equally substantial logical (or otherwise persuasive) arguments that one cannot tell the meaningfulness of a philosophical work by its method alone, one must analyse its content.

    Two different positions, both supported by logical (or otherwise persuasive) arguments, both supported by a wide base of epistemic peers.

    I'm persuaded by the first position, you are persuaded by the second. The difference, which I am struggling in this thread to understand, is that you don't just disagree with the first position, you treat it (and those who agree with it) with derision. Why?

    Do you honestly think comparing the capacity of ballroom dancing judges to say something meaningful regarding ethics, with philosophy, the discipline that has invented contemplation on ethics, is a useful comparison?Nop

    Yes, otherwise I wouldn't have made the point. You are begging the question by already presuming a position on ethics (that it is not naturally occuring) and that philosophy has generated that position (as opposed to simply reporting it). Without those presumptions you would have to demonstrate that philosophy has actually contributed to the normative function of ethics before you can raise you own personal incredulity to the level of actual evidence.

    The people on this forum are so arrogant when it comes to repeating the received wisdom of popular philosophy as if it were fact and then presuming anyone who disagrees with popular opinion must be ignorant, it beggars belief for a group of people supposedly striving for open-mindedness. Have you read Michael Friedman, JJ Smart, Crispin Wright, David Wiggins, Pete Unger... All of whom disagree to varying degrees with Quine's conclusion that you think was so irrefutable. It may well be what you learn at bachelor level, try reading about what you learn at doctoral level, you'll find it's rarely that simple.
  • Demiurgos
    1
    Although this discussion has moved on quite a bit, I’ll try to attempt a few answers to the initial questions. I am not a philosopher, so you’ll have to bear with me using a more colloquial than technical language, and some of this may sound obvious or has already implicitly been said, but here goes.

    First, I’ll rephrase the questions as following: Why is scientism used as a pejorative term, what metaphysical position is this pejorative term aimed at and what reasonable arguments can be made against this metaphysical position?

    Why is ‘scientism’ used as a pejorative term?

    First, scientism is used as a pejorative term because it was coined as such. It started out as a criticism of someone else’s metaphysical position, not describing someone’s own. Second, from a psychological point of view it is not surprising that a metaphysical position that is asserted by some of its proponents in a way to fundamentally challenge and exclude any other metaphysical position can be perceived as a provocation and cause an emotional response. So can these other metaphysical positions, this alone should not be enough to justify the use of a pejorative term.

    What metaphysical position is this pejorative term aimed at?

    It has been argued here that the metaphysical position in question is that scientific method is the only possible way of reaching certainty. One argumentation that has been made for it, as far as I understand it, is that all metaphysical positions are accidental, but one happens to coincide with objective reality. For evolutionary reasons, someone was bound to accidentally come up with a metaphysical position coinciding with objective reality, and someone is bound to accidentally adopt it. This metaphysical position could probably be called physicalist, so there would be no need to use the term scientism in either a pejorative or defiant way.
    However, as far as I can see the use of the term scientism is often not aimed at a particular metaphysical position itself but rather at statements and conclusions based on it, as well as supposed motivations for adopting it. So the point in question isn’t whether any metaphysical position is more valuable or factually true than another. While the criticism does often seem to be partly caused by an emotional response, as the use of a pejorative indicates, that does not necessarily mean it is unjustified.
    So I would propose that both the reason for the use of a pejorative, and the difference between scientism and, for example, physicalism, is that the former designates a metaphysical position and the latter designates invalid conclusions or rationalizations reached through holding this metaphysical position. To answer the question in the thread title, scientism is not a particular metaphysical position but a particular set of actions based on a particular metaphysical position.

    What reasonable arguments can be made against this metaphysical position?

    The arguments I am aware of either criticize statements and conclusions based on it from a methodological point of view, or motivations for adopting it from a psychological point of view.

    From a methodological point of view, the line dividing physicalism from scientism would be crossed once the metaphysical position interferes with scientific convention. I here postulate scientific convention to be right from a functional point of view because it has shown to lead to fairly accurate predictions and consistent results within its field. For example, scientific convention proposes X cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods, period. Physicalism proposes X cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods, therefore it does not exist. It is however not the metaphysical position that is scientism here, but the refusal to suspend it in favour of scientific practice, just as any theist would need to suspend his metaphysical position in favour of scientific practice.
    A common criticism against scientism is that it declares whole areas of empirical experience as illusory and whole areas of knowledge as irrelevant on the grounds that they cannot be proved or disproved by scientific methods. It is a nice twist that it thereby also declares its own metaphysical position to be illusory or irrelevant on the same grounds, which either accidentally or intentionally makes it unassailable. This may be one reason why physicalism is prone to scientism, as it assumes either that metaphysical positions do not influence the results of scientific experiment and are therefore irrelevant, or that since its own metaphysical position accidentally coincides with objective reality it therefore does not interfere, so in either case it does not need to be scrutinized.
    While a metaphysical position does not change the scientific facts, it might determine what scientific facts are found and how they are interpreted by influencing the formulation of the theory, the choice of method, the set-up of the experiment, the interpretation of the data and so on. But even supposing all scientific facts can be found regardless of or unaffected by the assumed metaphysical position, then it does not follow why any metaphysical position should be given up, either scientism, or for example theism. As long as everybody sticks to scientific method, a diversity of metaphysical positions might only get the job done sooner, which in turn would confirm the practical usefulness of metaphysical positions other than physicalism.

    From a psychological point of view, it would depend on how important a belief in the validity of science is to the structure of an individual’s personality. The line dividing science from scientism would be crossed once a refutation of the universal and exclusive validity of science is perceived as a threat to one’s own psychical integrity. In this case it would serve the function of an ersatz religion. It turns the fundamental uncertainties shown by science – that we cannot fully trust our senses, that we cannot fully control our actions – into metaphysical certainties – that we cannot trust our senses at all, that we cannot control our actions at all, except through scientific method. Paradoxically, uncertainty and reserving judgment are the very virtues of scientific method.
    That certainty might be a psychological need could be explained on biological terms, for example that it is necessary to survival to be certain a given plant is edible. To presume scientism is adopted as an ersatz religion does not contradict its own assumption that the adoption of metaphysical positions is accidental and biologically determined. If the motivation for adopting scientism is a psychological need for certainty or inability to tolerate uncertainty, then maybe this explains why it is associated with materialist metaphysical positions. In practice, theist scientists seem to be more comfortable in keeping science and belief separate than atheist scientists. Maybe this is because, supposing metaphysical certainty is a psychological need, then religion satisfies this need for religious scientists, while atheist scientists expect science to satisfy it.
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