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“it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency”

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From Design Inference by Bill Dembski, page 36:

The principal advantage of characterizing design as the complement of regularity and chance is that it avoids committing itself to a doctrine of intelligent agency…Nevertheless, it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency.

There has been some disagreement about whether AI can be categorized as intelligence or not. In terms of a design inference, the question is formally separate.

10 Replies to ““it is useful to separate design from theories of intelligence and intelligent agency”

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    So AI exhibits design but not intelligence. ,,, The controversy being where?

  2. 2
    Alan Fox says:

    Sal,

    Typo in the title. You don’t even have the excuse of copying from the quote mine! 🙂

    Separate not seperate.

  3. 3
    Alan Fox says:

    That’s OK Sal. Just make the edit without an acknowledgement 😉

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    Thanks Alan for correcting the spelling in my quotation in the title.

  5. 5
    Mapou says:

    I am not entirely sure what Dembski means by that phrase. I think he means that one can formulate a theory of design without first having a theory of intelligence but I could be wrong.

    It seems to me that there is an unspoken commitment within the ID movement to equate intelligence with conscious agency. I can understand why there might be such a commitment but I think it is wrong. We have intelligent artifacts among us already and nobody would attribute consciousness to them. Even a thermostat is intelligent. It’s a matter of degree and kind. Consciousness has nothing to do with it.

    Having a commitment on any subject without a firm grip on the fundamental principles is a sign of weakness, in my opinion, and the opposition will exploit it to their advantage. From my perspective, consciousness is more like a movie director who directs the actions of others but does not act.

  6. 6
    scordova says:

    I think he means that one can formulate a theory of design without first having a theory of intelligence

    In his book ID the bridge between science and theology he states that he prefers to leave intelligence an undefined.

    Whereas in the design inference he defines design.

    Bill Dembski in IS INTELLIGENT DESIGN A FORM OF NATURAL THEOLOGY

    At this point critics of intelligent design often protest that design theorists have yet to provide a careful definition of intelligence. While I agree that terms need to be defined as carefully as possible, the call for definition can itself become a subterfuge. Thus the call for definition can become a way of avoiding the challenge posed by an idea by endlessly requiring further clarification of key terms. The later Wittgenstein certainly thought the call for definition was overrated. Indeed, the finiteness of language itself implies that the call for definition must at some point either end or issue in circularity. Within intelligent design, intelligence is a primitive notion much as force or energy are primitive notions within physics. We can say intelligible things about these notions and show how they can be usefully employed in certain contexts. But in defining them, we gain no substantive insight.

    The very word intelligence derives from the Latin words “inter” (a preposition meaning “between”) and “lego” (a verb meaning to “choose” or “select”). Thus strictly speaking intelligence refers to the capacity to choose or select. Yet unlike natural selection, which operates without goals or purposes, ordinarily when we think of an intelligence as choosing or selecting, it is with a goal or purpose in mind. We could therefore define intelligence as the capacity for rational or purposive or deliberate or premeditated choice. Have we therefore defined intelligence to the satisfaction of the critics of intelligent design? Hardly. When Howard Van Till, for instance, issues his call for definition, his worry is not what intelligence or design means as such, but what these terms mean in contexts where no embodied intelligence was acting and thus where his view of nature as a complete system of natural causes (cf. his fully gifted creation and robust formational economy) comes under pressure. Invariably I’ve found that the call to define intelligence by critics of intelligent design is not a call for clarification but a defensive move to relieve pressure from some aspect of the critic’s own worldview that intelligent design calls into question.

  7. 7
    niwrad says:

    scordova

    If we should separate “intelligence” from “design” I don’t understand why we continue to call our movement “Intelligent Design”.

    Moreover if we have to “leave intelligence an undefined” it becomes particularly curious (and unintelligible) your initial post starting this series of discussions:

    Should _undefined_ Design include Artificial _undefined_ as a form of _undefined_? I think so

  8. 8
    scordova says:

    I don’t understand why we continue to call our movement “Intelligent Design”.

    That is something to ask Bill, but I would suspect he’d say, we don’t have to define intelligence in order to utilize the notion. In fact the more fundamental a notion, the more likely it is that we cannot define it. If intelligence is fundamental to ID, then we cannot define it.

    By way of analogy, the fundamental concepts in geometry are undefined:

    http://www.regentsprep.org/Reg.....dterms.htm

    In geometry, definitions are formed using known words or terms to describe a new word. There are three words in geometry that are not formally defined. These three undefined terms are point, line and plane.

  9. 9
    Mapou says:

    It seems to me that there is no need to fully define intelligence in order to define intelligent design. We only need to identify and define the characteristics of intelligence that are necessary for design, such as foresight, goal-directed behavior, purposefulness, the ability to anticipate or predict outcomes, etc. Judging from what scordova wrote above, it seems that this is what Dembski meant and I think it makes perfect sense.

  10. 10
    scordova says:

    the call for definition can itself become a subterfuge.
    ….
    Invariably I’ve found that the call to define intelligence by critics of intelligent design is not a call for clarification but a defensive move to relieve pressure from some aspect of the critic’s own worldview that intelligent design calls into question.

    The same critics of ID will probably gladly accept standard geometry that has no formal definition of its 3 fundamental concepts: point, line, plane.

    I bring this up because, imho, the argument over what intelligence is not critical to the design inference. It’s a discussion that is worth pondering, but let’s not think we have to resolve what the nature of intelligence is in order to claim ID is closer to the truth than Dawkins Blindwatchmaker.

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