« The Retributive Theory of Rights | Main | Obligations and the Obligatory »

April 24, 2010

Comments

Nicholas Smyth

I just wanted to say THANK YOU for being one of the only bloggers to notice that F&P's detractors are descending to a level of base cruelty and ignorance akin to the worst sorts of political "attack" advertisements. It's astounding to see people who think that all they need to do is associate them with creationists (group X likes your book = you are a member of group x? WHA?), or note that they are "philosophers" and not "scientists" (Fodor is a psychologist, Piattelli-Palmarini is a cognitive scientist), or lump them in with people who "don't want a mechanistic theory of mind".

All of this under the banner of science and reason. Wow. I am personally disturbed that so few see fit to actually engage with the arguments.

I (unlike so many others) don't claim to know who is right here, though I like that the present discussion is helping us to see that a central concern is the status of scientific theories. I (tentatively) think that what F&P establish is not that Darwin made some colossal error, but that his theory is simply much less informative than most take it to be, and that it requires supplementation (from many other sources) to establish anything definitive.

Nicholas Smyth

P.S. I'm at http://yeahokbutstill.blogspot.com, and I'm adding you to my blogroll for sure...

Barry Bergin

" I (tentatively) think that what F&P establish is not that Darwin made some colossal error, but that his theory is simply much less informative than most take it to be, and that it requires supplementation (from many other sources) to establish anything definitive."

F&P are arguing that natural selection is fundamentally flawed and is literally useless as an explanatory mechanism in evolution. Fodor's *attempt* at refuting NS stems from his distaste of people like Pinker, Dennett et al explaining human traits through adaption by Natural Selection. But I agree that people who have *genuine* arguments against any scientific theory shouldn't be labelled creationists.

But maybe if I were an evolutionary biologist who sees the explanatory power of NS everyday in the field or the lab I would probably be pretty pissed too at a phiosopher saying something stupid like "...free riding is a counterexample to natural selection." Huh!

Larvatus

You make an excellent point about top honors and reverence due to those who manage to subsume large and pervasive facts under small and concise equations. But I wonder how consistent this subsumption might be with your hostility to intensional representation. As I read Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini, their approach casts doubt on the possibility of extensional analysis of natural selection. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you or them, if not both.

http://larvatus.livejournal.com/253682.html

Omer Moussaffi

Yours is a valid point, but hardly anything new. Old TalkOrigins, for example, makes exactly the same point: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/evolution-fact.html

But Darwin's Idea that natural and sexual selection are the important mechanisms of evolution - this is indeed a theory, or rather, a general framework for constructing theories of evolution in particular cases. Again, this is something which seems trivial to a secular person.

To take your example, say we have a rival "theory" (a stupid one, I concur) which states that the president of the US gets into office not through popular vote, but through godly intervention. Then, showing that points 1-10 on your list are true, while not very difficult, is nonetheless important.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)