3 of 6
3
scientific realism
Posted: 05 December 2008 04:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  472
Joined  2007-06-08

How about this:

Newton described the force of gravity in terms of the mutual attraction of massive bodies.

Einstein described the force of gravity in terms of the curvature of space-time.

Which one is “the real” description?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  633
Joined  2007-12-10
Pragmatic Naturalist - 05 December 2008 04:50 PM

How about this:

Newton described the force of gravity in terms of the mutual attraction of massive bodies.

Einstein described the force of gravity in terms of the curvature of space-time.

Which one is “the real” description?

Whats your point, they are both good descriptions Newtons is less accurate than Einsteins. It is possible new physics will provide an even more accurate description. The “real description” can only be proven as the “real description” if we know all information, thus having no possible information which contradicts the the description.

 Signature 

Dan

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 08:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3349
Joined  2007-11-21
the PC apeman - 04 December 2008 06:03 AM

Bryan,
Why don’t you stake out your position and stop being coy.

PC

I did stake out my position.  George apparently mistook it.  Nothing coy about it, from what I can tell.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 08:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3349
Joined  2007-11-21
dougsmith - 03 December 2008 03:10 PM

The utility of scientific theory, its ability to preserve the phenomena and be predictively adequate, is best explained by its hooking onto something real in the world. Competing theories would include aristotelian momentum, astrology, witchcraft, the efficacy of prayer, laying on of hands, voodoo, homeopathic medicine, therapeutic touch, etc. Each of these practices comes with a theoretic underpinning which purports to describe the way the world is and hence explain the effects that they are trying to achieve. Each of them fails, and hence the theories that are associated with these practices are demonstrated to be mythological or in other words false.

How does the efficacy of prayer supposedly fail, for example?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  35
Joined  2008-07-10
mckenzievmd - 05 December 2008 03:44 PM

The problem is that nothing is.

Who’s problem is this? It’s not mine. Proofs are proofs, that’s why they’re called ‘proofs.’ A proof is a sequence of valid inferences. What I may call a proof may not actually be a proof, no different than what I may call a truth may not actually be a truth, but proofs exists, or at least I think they do.

If the obvious correlation between standnig in front of a moving truck and getting crushed isn’t proof of anything, then nothing meets the standard. All well and good withing the rarefied atmosphere of pure inquiry, but I’m not so sure a useful approach to lviing. I happen to believe philosophy should inform living, and improve it, not define it out of existence. But, as always, just MHO.

Who has attempted to define anything out of existence? I merely commented on some basic facts of logic. Please understand that I have no intent to promote any form of solipsism or relativism, in fact, I consider both profound errors.

 Signature 

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but give a man a fishing rod and he will need a fishing permit.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  262
Joined  2008-06-13
nocturne - 05 December 2008 12:03 PM
mckenzievmd - 05 December 2008 08:48 AM

Thank you, nocturne, for providing such a fine example of the sort of obscurantist nonsense I was referring to that serves to cloud the relatively simple issue of whether anything exists. I invite you to live the truth of your convictions by challenging the reality of the next truck that comes hurtling towards you, which is after all only the experience of a truck hurtling towards you. Such an experiment would doubtless not serve as proof of anything to you, but those of us left might find it instructive.

I stated no convictions. I merely commented that experiences cannot fulfil the function of premises. It is simply a confusion of logic and psychology (sometimes referred to as psychologism). Most people, however, hardly recognise that they are psychologists (in the sense previously referred to), usually because they have scarcely considered that there even could be an alternative.

You are right, by the way, the sight of a truck hurtling towards me would not prove anything. It may convince me to dash out of its way, but my being convinced is not a proof.

Please correct me if I’m misunderstanding, but I think part of the problem is how the terms logic and proof are used. 
In the strictest since logic is what follows from explicitly defined premises in a closed system with perfect information and 100% consistency. 
Similarly, proofs exist as formal statements within specifically defined systems with 100% fidelity.
Neither of these statements apply to the world as we experience it.

So, despite my acceptance that I don’t exist within a system of formal logic and proofs, I’m going to go with mckenzie on this one and count on the fact that standing in the path of the oncoming truck will lead to my traumatic death.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRank
Total Posts:  35
Joined  2008-07-10
Hawkfan - 05 December 2008 09:08 PM

So, despite my acceptance that I don’t exist within a system of formal logic and proofs, I’m going to go with mckenzie on this one and count on the fact that standing in the path of the oncoming truck will lead to my traumatic death.

That would also be going with nocturne. When I state that our experiences do not prove anything (at the least, they must be interpreted), I do not mean to suggest that we should never accept any interpretation of them. The notion, however, that these experiences can act as premises in a proof is simply mistaken. I act on the assumption that my experiences are an accurate interpretation of reality regularly, and nothing I have said is meant to imply that such an assumption is mistaken or irrational.

 Signature 

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but give a man a fishing rod and he will need a fishing permit.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  633
Joined  2007-12-10
Bryan - 05 December 2008 08:28 PM

How does the efficacy of prayer supposedly fail, for example?

Studies have shown prayer doesn’t affect outcomes, what a shock!  LOL

Prayer Doesn’t heal the sick

 Signature 

Dan

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 09:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  472
Joined  2007-06-08
danlhinz - 05 December 2008 07:36 PM

Whats your point, they are both good descriptions Newtons is less accurate than Einsteins. It is possible new physics will provide an even more accurate description. The “real description” can only be proven as the “real description” if we know all information, thus having no possible information which contradicts the the description.

I agree that they are both “good descriptions.”  But how do they describe what they describe?  Answer: in terms that are relevant to human experience and purposes, namely, in terms of “attractions” and “falling down slopes.”  They are both metaphors based upon the way that we interact with the environment.  We need to understand that even our scientific metaphors are experientially based.  That does not depreciate their usefulness to our needs.  And it does not concede any ground to any weird supernaturalist claims.  What it does do, however, is recognize that an agent-neutral idea of objectivity is a will-o’-the-wisp.  So anyone advocating for that sort of absolutist objectivity as the standard of “scientific realism” is destined for disappointment.  And the rejoinder that one can “only be proven as the ‘real description’ if we know all information,” belies a notion of a god’s-eye-view of reality—a “view from nowhere” as it were.  Philosopher’s who typically argue for scientific realism, typically argue that such an account of nature is possible.  That’s what’s at stake.  Pragmatists, like myself, want to defuse situations in which all-or-nothings are demanded—as the present discussion seemes to veer, viz. towards the poles in which you either think science captures an agent-neutral “reality” or it fails altogether and anything goes. 

The point is that the standpoint of our scietific inquiries into nature is the standpoint from which such inquiries are relevant to human purposes.  And, they are none the worse for that!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 05 December 2008 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4096
Joined  2006-11-28

nocturne,

I guess, since this discussion seemed to be about whether science can be meaningfully said to be a reliable method for modelling reality, and whether the efficacy of scientific models counts as evidence that they do in fact reflect something real, I interpreted your comments as bearing on this question, and as suggesting that the data of science, which is essentially experiential or sensory at some level, cannot constitute proof of anything. If this isn’t what you were getting at, then I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make.  If you’re simply clarifying the definitions of “proof” and such terminology within formal logic, without reference to the real world, then fair enough but it seems a bit off topic.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 December 2008 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3349
Joined  2007-11-21
danlhinz - 05 December 2008 09:34 PM
Bryan - 05 December 2008 08:28 PM

How does the efficacy of prayer supposedly fail, for example?

Studies have shown prayer doesn’t affect outcomes, what a shock!  LOL

Prayer Doesn’t heal the sick

Don’t you wonder how they went about establishing a control group that received no prayers, and how they went about ensuring that no local Satanic congregation was praying to cancel out the other prayers?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 December 2008 03:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Jr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  82
Joined  2007-10-08
Bryan - 06 December 2008 11:54 AM

Don’t you wonder how they went about establishing a control group that received no prayers, and how they went about ensuring that no local Satanic congregation was praying to cancel out the other prayers?

Why should we wonder?  The proponents of prayer should have the burden of proof to demonstrate that intercessory prayer works and have some sort of theory to explain the effect…..but then I’m still waiting for the evidence for the force behind Intelligent Design, an intangible soul that functions separately from brain function, and an intelligent creative force that has infinite power and knows everything about us and our world, yet somehow does all this while evading detection.

Many years ago, when my cousin got wrapped up with Jimmy Swaggert Ministries—the Canadian headquarters was in Niagara Falls—I asked him why this sort of faith healing wasn’t being used to empty the hospitals of all of the sick people, and the answers were just as shadowy and implausible then as they are now—the people can’t be healed, if they don’t have faith….and even if they do, God may have decided to call them home anyway….it just may be part of his higher purpose—which makes prayer and faith healing totally unfalsifiable, and not worth wasting money on like the Templeton Foundation keeps doing on an annual basis.

[ Edited: 07 December 2008 04:15 AM by workinprogress ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 December 2008 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4096
Joined  2006-11-28

how they went about ensuring that no local Satanic congregation was praying to cancel out the other prayers?

LOL

Ah the smell of desperation!

 Signature 

The SkeptVet Blog
You cannot reason a person out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place. 
Johnathan Swift

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 December 2008 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  633
Joined  2007-12-10
Bryan - 06 December 2008 11:54 AM
danlhinz - 05 December 2008 09:34 PM
Bryan - 05 December 2008 08:28 PM

How does the efficacy of prayer supposedly fail, for example?

Studies have shown prayer doesn’t affect outcomes, what a shock!  LOL

Prayer Doesn’t heal the sick

Don’t you wonder how they went about establishing a control group that received no prayers, and how they went about ensuring that no local Satanic congregation was praying to cancel out the other prayers?

There have been many studies done by religious and non-religious groups. I have only encountered one where the result showed a correlation. In that one the people doing the study were also the ones praying an obvious flaw.

 Signature 

Dan

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 December 2008 08:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
Bryan - 06 December 2008 11:54 AM

Don’t you wonder how they went about establishing a control group that received no prayers, and how they went about ensuring that no local Satanic congregation was praying to cancel out the other prayers?

gulp

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 6
3