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Naturalism. Realism,. Antirealism,. AND Evolution. and Implications. Expositions. PART I. Expositions. Section A: Realism. A Brief Summary of Realism.

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slide1

Naturalism

Realism,

Antirealism,

AND Evolution

and Implications

Expositions

slide2

PART I

Expositions

a brief summary of realism
A Brief Summary of Realism
  • Realism in modern philosophy is a doctrine according to which ordinary objects perceived by senses, such as tables and chairs, have an existence independent of their being perceived.
  • It is contrary to the idealism of philosophers such as George Berkeley or Immanuel Kant.
  • In its extreme form, also called as full-blown and naïve realism, the things perceived by the senses are believed to be exactly what they appear to be. In more sophisticated versions, known as critical realism, a relationship between the object and the observer is establish in order to account for perceptual errors (such as illusion, hallucination, and sensory physiological degenerations)
what full blown scientific realists hold about science
What Full-Blown Scientific Realists Hold about Science:
  • Scientific realism is a philosophical doctrine that advocates acceptance of the most secure findings of scientists "at the face value.“ and as the "only conceivable explanation" of science's predictive and manipulative successes.
  • Full-Blown SR trust that both Theories and Data reflect or correspond to the world.
support for scientific realism
Atomic Theory

For many centuries people envisioned an elementary particle: atom, and were theorizing about atoms.

Only recently atoms could be seen under the microscope and proved to correspond well to the more refined modern atomic theories.

Support for Scientific Realism ?
sr and theory of rabbit in the hat
SR and Theory of “Rabbit in the Hat”:
  • What is in the hat ?

???

  • Clue: It moves.

Worm in the hat

  • Clue: It’s warm

Baby Pig in the hat

  • Clue: It’s furry

Cat in the hat

  • Clue: It has long ears

Rabbit in the hat

  • YES IT IS A RABBIT IN THE HAT !

Scientific Realist Conclusion: Good Hypothesis brings one closer and closer to reality, until the hypothesis equals the truth.

are all antirealists alike
Are all Antirealists alike ?
  • No. There are those who accept data but not theories and they are called instrumentalists. Many positivists are instrumentalists.
  • And there those who reject both data and facts, so called full-blown antirealists.
a brief summary of antirealism
A Brief Summary of Antirealism

There are two types of antirealists: instrumentalists and global antirealists.

Instrumentalism:

A variety of pragmatism developed at the University of Chicago by John Dewey and his colleagues.

Thoughts, [spooky] ideas and theories are considered by instrumentalists as a mean to an end (way to solve difficulties and cope with new situations). And these do not bear resemblance to reality.

While empirical observations do indeed provide us the accurate sense of reality.

Global Antirealists:A variety of extreme skepticism. Global Antirealists deny not only the resemblance to truth of theories, but of data and observations as well. While a healthy doze of skepticism is not only important but essential for science, extreme skepticism produces no science (like in “taxes dilemma”: 0% tax rate [skepticism]: no public goods [science] as no money for public goods will be available [no one will sort among tons of rubbish to identify ounces of good science]; while 100% tax rate [skepticism] means no public goods [science] either as no one is willing to work to pay taxes [all science will be discarded and no produced])

global antirealism anti science
Ironically while moderate skepticism (like that of Carl Sagan one of the founders of Skeptical Inquire magazine) is very healthy for science. Extreme skepticism, instead of being extremely healthy, is extremely harmful to science. This is because by denying everything as “real’, anything can be “real”.

Thus for “true” global antirealists there is no distinction on truth between “modern cosmology” and “medieval church cosmology” and accept any theories on matter of belief [“my intuition say so”], traditions [“my bible say so”] or convenience [“my publisher and advertiser say so”]. Indeed global antirealists scientists are anti-science. And being such is as paradoxical as being a nihilistic ethicist.

Global Antirealism = Anti-science ?
what instrumentalists hold about science
Instrumentalists trust that only Data reflects or corresponds to the world.

Theories are often useful heuristics to discover Data, but ultimately fictions.

What Instrumentalists Hold about Science ?:
support for instrumentalists position ether case
Support for Instrumentalists’ Position: Ether Case

Ether

  • To explain how light moves through cosmos scientists hypothesized of a all-penetrating substance called ether.
  • Eventually a storm created by earth as it frictions with ether was predicted but that wasn't observed and Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity replaced ether.
  • Before ether was declared a fiction it was factored out in equations by physicists and the concept often proved useful, even if false.
  • INSTRUMENTALISTS’ CONCLUSION: Theories are just crutches, they help support ones walking [science progress] but can never replace legs [data].

No Ether

Ether ?

instrumentalists and theory of rabbit in the hat
Instrumentalists and Theory of “Rabbit in the Hat”:
  • What is in the hat ?

???

  • Clue: It moves.

Worm in the hat

  • Clue: It’s warm

Warm worm in the hat (due to heat in the room)

  • Clue: It’s furry

furry warm worm in the hat (due to fur in the hat)

  • Clue: It has long ears

furry warm worm in the hat with long ears (due to radiation in the room).

  • NO, IT IS A RABBIT, NOT A FURRY WARM WORM WITH long EARS IN THE HAT !

Instrumentalist’s Conclusion: Therefore All Hypothesizes and Theories are Fictional

global antirealists and theory of the rabbit in the hat
Global Antirealists and Theory of the “Rabbit in the Hat”:
  • What is in the hat ?

???

  • Clue: It moves.

???

  • Clue: It’s warm

???

  • Clue: It’s furry

???

  • Clue: It has long ears

???

  • IT IS A RABBIT IN THE HAT. TAKE A LOOK!

???

Global Antirealists’ Conclusion: By being presented with the “facts” our knowledge about truth doesn’t increase. Even seeing, does not mean believing.

a brief summary of naturalism
A Brief Summary of Naturalism
  • Naturalism conceive nature as the whole of reality and can be understood only through scientific investigation.
  • It denies the existence of the supernatural and reduces metaphysics, which studies the ultimate nature of reality, and theology which suggests design and metaphysical necessity in nature to little relevance.
  • Since the naturalism denies a transcendent ultimate end for humankind (ultimate is beyond discovery), it suggests that values must be found within the social context, a form of social contract (which preferably is humanistic and utilitarian).
slide18
According to naturalism realism and anti-realism miss the point when the conceive a dualistic relationship between theories on one side, and "the world" on the other . According to naturalists, theories are human are indeed constructions [as antirealists suggest] but we experience the world us through our theories [as realists suggest]. Thus it is irrelevant in comparing theories to the world, as it is irrelevant in comparing “drivers view of car” with “eagle eye view of car”. (a driver can never be an eagle, and once he/she exits the car, cease to be a driver, similarly a human can never have a “god eye view” (or “god-of-the-gaps eye view”) and once one ceases to be a human it cannot have any perceptions at all.
some myths about naturalists
All Naturalists are Relativists.

Naturalists are NOT relativists: Some theories are more coherent to and correspond better with current knowledge than others.              

All Naturalists are extremely skeptical.

Naturalists are NOT “hardliner” skeptics:  while naturalists generally agree that our perception is not perfect, they think that with advancement of technology [microscopes; telescopes] our perception of reality increase.

All Naturalists are Communists/Nihilists/Social Darwinists:

Naturalism is a conception about scientific theories not economical or social theories. While some naturalists are communists. Some are nihilists. And some are Social Darwinists. Many are not. In fact most naturalists leave a fruitful and happy life as naturalistic conception of the world redeems one of from fear of afterlife retribution (and even reward, as Isaac Asimov putted in one of his science fiction novel: “the hope for death is what keeps me alive”) and reconciles one with the “best truth a human can perceive”.

Some Myths about Naturalists
naturalism and theory of rabbit in the hat
Naturalism and Theory of “Rabbit in the Hat”:
  • What is in the hat ?

Insufficient data.

  • Clue: It moves.

To the best of my knowledge it is probably a worm in the hat.

  • Clue: It’s warm

To the best of my knowledge it is probablya baby Pig in the hat

  • Clue: It’s furry

To the best of my knowledge it is probablya cat in the hat

  • Clue: It has long ears

To the best of my knowledge it is probablya rabbit in the hat.

  • YES IT IS A RABBIT IN THE HAT !

Naturalist Conclusion: Good Hypothesis brings one closer and closer to reality, until the hypothesis equals the truth, but until that point we need to maintain a doze of healthy scientific skepticism and make our conclusions tentative.

realism and evolutionary theory
According to full-blown scientific realists theories that Charles Darwin presented were more or less accurate, and in correspondence with reality, if not complete. And data that seems to support evolution is quite accurate and in correspondence with reality as well.Realism and Evolutionary Theory
thus scientific realist would
Thus Scientific Realist Would:

Accept current classification of animal kingdom as accurate and real (matches data)

Accept macroevolution as accurate and real (matches data).

Accept microevolution as accurate and real. (matches data; observable)

Accept English Peppered Moths as real evidence for microevolution. (observable)

Accept fossils of Archaeopteryx as real evidence for macroevolution (observable)

instrumentalism and evolutionary theory
Instrumentalists are likely to reject macroevolution theory as real, as it can be observed, however accept microevolution (variations within species) as it was observed in finches and bacteria.

However while rejecting macroevolution theory, as real, they will admit its usefulness for modern biology. they will accept the evidence that support. They will also accept visible evidence for macroevolution, as fossils of Archaeopteryx (some concerns might arouse among instrumentalists about carbon dating techniques used to determine age of Archaeopteryx: whether they are theoretical or factual)

Instrumentalism and Evolutionary Theory
thus instrumentalism would
Thus Instrumentalism Would:

Reject current classification of animal kingdom as accurate and real (unobservable)

Reject macroevolution as accurate and real (unobservable)

Accept microevolution as accurate and real (observable in bacteria and birds).

Accept English Peppered Moths as real evidence for microevolution (observable).

Accept fossils of Archaeopteryx as real evidence for macroevolution (observable)

global antirealism and evolutionary theory
Global Antirealism and Evolutionary Theory
  • Global Antirealists will reject evolutionary theory unambiguously. They will reject tenets of the theory as well the evidence that supports it. For them evidence are mere “Darwin Icons” (or worse “devil icons”) and are irrelevant on establishing truth. In fact truth cannot be ever established (so lets us pray…).
thus global antirealists would
Thus Global Antirealists Would:

Reject current classification of animal kingdom as accurate and real.

Reject macroevolution as accurate and real.

Reject microevolution as accurate and real (as it can be observed).

Reject English Peppered Moths as real evidence for microevolution.

Accept fossils of Archaeopteryx as real evidence for macroevolution

naturalism and evolutionary theory
Naturalism and Evolutionary Theory
  • According to naturalism the occurrence of both macroevolution and microevolution is plausible. And we can accept theories that support evolution as readily as facts. However our acceptance should be tentative, and as we gather new evidence for or against evolution our theories should change accordingly.

That is not to say that in the face of the facts Intelligent Design merits to be mentioned along evolution, nor could be ever a place for supernatural creation [though if we gather enough evidence, which highly implausible, for alien creation then “alien creationism” can constitute a completive theory to evolution].

thus naturalism would
Thus Naturalism Would:

?

Question current classification of animal kingdom as accurate and real (as it is likely that there would be many changes to it in the future)

?

Tentatively Accept macroevolution as accurate and real.

?

Tentatively Accept microevolution as accurate and real.

Accept English Peppered Moths as real evidence for microevolution.

Accept fossils of Archaeopteryx as real evidence for macroevolution

conclusion
Conclusion

Evolutionary theory seems to be better supported by the naturalistic conception of the world as it integrates harmoniously a doze of healthy skepticism from instrumentalists with a doze of acceptance or reality from realists. Plus it brings its own wise different approach to science, instead of deluding ourselves that we at look science objectively through objective senses, or deluding ourselves that we look at science subjectively through subjective senses, we should know that our senses are subjective, but nonetheless try to look at science objectively.

credits
Credits
  • Lynn Hankinson Nelson

Professor, Department of Philosophy

University of Washington

Microsoft Encarta 2003

  • http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-realism/