Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Defending scientism: Glad someone got around to it

arroba Email

So there is something to discuss. From Thomas Cortellesi at Quillette:

Scientism is often ridiculed as an appeal to excessive reductionism that “restricts human inquiry.” This notion is predicated on a view of science as purely reductionist, a charge that betrays a deep misunderstanding of scientific practice. Science is a way of demonstrating the deep connections between the smallest of parts and the largest of systems. Contrary to how it is often portrayed, the scientific project is not strictly reductionist. Reductionism is the belief that understanding complex phenomena comes ultimately from breaking them down into their simplest parts. This approach is made by isolating variables, refining the precision and accuracy of observations, and extracting from them fundamental laws, which in turn can be used to make predictions. The purely reductionist approach to science had its heyday during the Enlightenment, when Newton’s clockwork universe reigned triumphant, able at last to provide a rigorous explanation not only for the motion of celestial bodies, but everything under the sun. This was the spirit of the times – scholars imagined all aspects of the universe, human ones, to be reducible to axioms and blueprints; even Thomas Hobbes imagined his Leviathan as akin to an automaton, with “springs and wheels.” More.

The problem is that naturalism is simply not true. Either it will survive or science will.

See also: How naturalism rots science from the head down

Might I also suggest that, with advances in quantum computing, the role of agent causality is far deeper than those absolutely committed to methodological naturalism would have presupposed?
Is Shor's algorithm a demonstration of the many worlds interpretation? Excerpt:,, There is one more lethal conceptual problem with the “many worlds” explanation of the Shor’s algorithm’s speed: the whole quantum computer’s calculation has to proceed in a completely coherent way and you’re not allowed to imagine that the world splits into “many worlds” as long as things are coherent i.e. before the qubits are measured. Only when the measurement is completed – e.g. at the end of the Shor’s algorithm calculation – you’re allowed to imagine that the worlds split. But it’s too late because by that moment, the whole calculation has already been done in a single (quantum) world, without any help from the parallel worlds. (Many more excellent answers are on the site) http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/10062/is-shors-algorithm-a-demonstration-of-the-many-worlds-interpretation How is there a Physics of Information? - March 2017 4.1 Quantum Computing and DiVincezo In the 1990s, when the field of quantum computing was really beginning to develop, there were a great many proposals for which kind of physical systems might be viable for a scalable quantum computer. DiVincenzo (1997) [55] clarified the criteria which a system needed to meet to be a realistic possibility. His criteria were (paraphrasing):,,, ,,, 5. Ability to perform a strong projective measurement to read the output. While in a classical system, the end of the computation simply leaves the device holding the answer, in a quantum system it is necessary to perform a quantum measurement, meaning something rather different than simply a further unitary evolution, so that the result of the computation could be read out.,,, 6 What makes a Someone? Our proposal is that the question of how information processing tasks can be physically instantiated cannot be separated from the question of the existence of physically embodied agents who are informing and being informed by the task. We have argued that this means that initialisation and readout stages must be included within the definition of the task, and that this also provides a principled answer to problems involving the ambiguities of representation when calculating the resource costs associated with information processing,,, http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/12973/1/beholder.pdf
groovamos, you state:
I absolutely am constrained, without regret, by methodological naturalism in my field, EE (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
And yet, methodological naturalism rules agent causality out of bounds before any investigation has even begun and holds that blind mechanical causality is the only causality that can be considered 'scientific'.
Do You Like SETI? Fine, Then Let's Dump Methodological Naturalism - Paul Nelson - September 24, 2014 Excerpt: "Epistemology -- how we know -- and ontology -- what exists -- are both affected by methodological naturalism (MN). If we say, "We cannot know that a mind caused x," laying down an epistemological boundary defined by MN, then our ontology comprising real causes for x won't include minds. MN entails an ontology in which minds are the consequence of physics, and thus, can only be placeholders for a more detailed causal account in which physics is the only (ultimate) actor. You didn't write your email to me. Physics did, and informed (the illusion of) you of that event after the fact. "That's crazy," you reply, "I certainly did write my email." Okay, then -- to what does the pronoun "I" in that sentence refer? Your personal agency; your mind. Are you supernatural?,,, You are certainly an intelligent cause, however, and your intelligence does not collapse into physics. (If it does collapse -- i.e., can be reduced without explanatory loss -- we haven't the faintest idea how, which amounts to the same thing.) To explain the effects you bring about in the world -- such as your email, a real pattern -- we must refer to you as a unique agent.,,, some feature of "intelligence" must be irreducible to physics, because otherwise we're back to physics versus physics, and there's nothing for SETI to look for.",,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/09/do_you_like_set090071.html Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw
My simple question for you is this, since you state "I absolutely am constrained, without regret, by methodological naturalism in my field, EE (Electrical and Computer Engineering)" then what is causing your electrical and computer systems to come into existence? You, the intelligent engineer as a causal agent, or blind mechanical causality? Remember, you are 'absolutely constrained' in the answer you are allowed to give! :) The highly respected George Ellis himself feels no such artificial constraint to only citing the answers allowed by methodological naturalism,,,
Recognising Top-Down Causation - George Ellis Excerpt: The mind is not a physical entity, but it certainly is causally effective: proof is the existence of the computer on which you are reading this text. It could not exist if it had not been designed and manufactured according to someone’s plans, thereby proving the causal efficacy of thoughts, which like computer programs and data are not physical entities. http://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Ellis_FQXI_Essay_Ellis_2012.pdf
That's only because philosophical materialism moved the goalposts. Original materialism was atomism, which assumed everything worked by particles colliding. Then, people discovered things like magnetism, gravity, all the field effects. Ancient philosophies also had more exotic causes we no longer recognize, such as vitalism. Now, we have quantum entanglement, where distance is no longer an impediment to interaction. So, if you broaden materialism to include any new causal agency you discover, then materialism even encompasses a religious supernatural world. At that point, it becomes a distinction without a difference. EricMH
But not even electrical engineering is entirely materialistic. It depends on fields and waves, which are immaterial. Hardly. Space-time is/would be immaterial by that definition. Philosophical materialism does not forgo belief in electromagnetism, gravity, space and time. groovamos
"Naturalism" is a broad term. If human beings are intelligent designers, and are part of the natural order, then intelligent design also fits within methodological naturalism. A more precise term is materialism. But not even electrical engineering is entirely materialistic. It depends on fields and waves, which are immaterial. EricMH
"The problem is that naturalism is simply not true" Really? I absolutely am constrained, without regret, by methodological naturalism in my field, EE. Not philosophical naturalism mind you. Reductionism and methodological naturalism are almost the same. If there are distinctions to be made, I'm open to elucidation. Philosophical naturalism conversely would seem to negate a non-reductionist approach to anything including consciousness research and many areas of anthropology. Since the best data from consciousness research involves non-ordinary states of consciousness and non-reductionist approaches to their analyses, philosophical naturalism is a hopeless barrier to understanding the vast capabilities of the human mind. This is why the field of mainstream psychology is a confused mess. groovamos
Nothing can 'emerge' from chance and necessity that is not reducible to chance and necessity. Reductionism is the only coherent way to understand a science that explains the world in terms of chance and necessity. EricMH
Feels like a game of "redefine the vocabulary of your criticism to exclude the qualities you (properly) criticize, then reintroduce the objects with these qualities against this sterilized definition." Quoting three legendarily immoderate scientisimists doesn't fit very well with their placating tone. Never tire of postmodern dictionary hurling. LocalMinimum
From the article:
A purely reductionist approach also fails to appreciate emergent properties, such as life (while composed of many molecules arranged in a certain way, many molecules arranged in virtually the same way can also produce cadavers) and consciousness (one neuron does not an Einstein make).
As if invoking emergent properties somehow makes "Science" non-reductionist. This kind of magical thinking isn't helping. Latemarch

Leave a Reply