Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Reading list on ID for grad students in philosophy

arroba Email

Here is an email I just received. See my recommended list below:

Dear Professor Dembski:

My name is SNIP. I am a doctoral student in the philosophy
program at SNIP. I am writing to you because I have recently become
interested in some of the arguments being put forth under the intelligent
design banner, but there is, what seems to me to be a vast amount of
literature springing up, and I’m finding it difficult to navigate through
it all.

Since there’s so much hostility to the view, I’m not really comfortable
discussing the topic with most of the folks in my department. The last
thing I need right now is to be labeled as a “fanatic” of some sort. Thus,
I figured I’d go straight to the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

So, I’m wondering what you would recommend to the student who has a strong
background in analytic philosophy/logic but hasn’t read much within this
area other than some of the more superfical critiques (the typical “but
its not science” mixed with “just read Hume”). I already own your “The
Design Inference” along with Behe’s “Darwin’s Black Box”, but admit to
having given them each only a cursory glance at this point. Of the other
material available, which, on your view, is most important for the
educated reader?

Additionally, I suspect there are probably a number of other graduate
students in my shoes. That is, they see ID as an interesting (maybe even
intuitive) alternative, but are nervous about expressing such views within
their respective departments, for fear of being alienated or losing
faculty support. Thus, I think something like a public “philosophically
educated beginner’s guide to ID” might be warranted. Maybe you could post
a list of this sort on your blog? If you did I would certainly appreciate
it, although I’d not want to be mentioned therein due to some of the fears
expressed above.

Thanks very much,

Here’s my list to start the ball rolling:

  1. Ben Wiker, Moral Darwinism (IVP)
  2. Bill Dembski, The Design Revolution (IVP)
  3. Angus Menuge, Agents Under Fire (Rowman & Littlefield)
  4. Michael Rea, World without Design (Oxford)
  5. William Lane Craig & JP Moreland (eds.), Naturalism: A Critical Analysis (Routledge)
  6. Del Ratzsch, Nature, Design, and Science (SUNY)
  7. Neil Manson (ed.), God and Design (Routledge)
  8. Thomas Reid, Lectures on Natural Theology (UPA, edited by Elmer Duncan)
Prof. Dembski Appreciate your philosophical references. Encourage reconsideration of Gitt's hierarchy of information and information theorems. Gitt categorized information into five levels: 1. Statistics: Symbol frequencies, channel capacity etc. See: Information Entropy, Shannon's Theory 2. Syntax: All structural properties of setting up information. 3. Semantics: Meaning of symbols. 4. Pragmatics: Actions required by recipient to achieve sender's purposes. 5. Apobetics: Sender's purposes. Gitt lists the sx most important of his 32 information theorems as: 1. There can be no information without a code. 2. Any code is the result of a free and deliberate convention. 3. There can be no information without a sender. 4. Any given chain of information points to a mental source. 5. There can be no information unless all five hierarchical levels are involved: statistics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and apobetics. 6. Information cannot originate in statistical processes. Werner Gitt: ResearchID These appear to provide guidance for developing top down ID/teological theories (in contrast to materialistic bottom up evolution or ateological theories). Are there any researchers who have seriously grappled with Gitt's hierarchy and theorems or provided alternatives or publications you can refer to? (Apologies, I have read some but not most of your recommendations.) DLH
Professor Dembski, What texts will you be using this Fall in the class you are teaching at Southwestern entitled "Christian Faith, Knowledge, Science". Thanks, Kevin kevin_stilley
I always lead people to a great synopis of design theory found in the ARN archives by Paul Nelson summarizing an early symposium: http://www.arn.org/docs/orpages/or152/152main.htm#head1 the wonderer
Bill maybe you should add Voltaire to your list. This is from the Philosphical Dictionary hosted by Hanover. The section is from Voltaire postulating on athiesm. Here is the link http://history.hanover.edu/texts/voltaire/volathe1.html We are intelligent beings: intelligent beings cannot have been formed by a crude, blind, insensible being: there is certainly some difference between the ideas of Newton and the dung of a mule. Newton's intelligence, therefore, came from another intelligence. When we see a beautiful machine, we say that there is a good engineer, and that this engineer has excellent judgment. The world is assuredly an admirable machine; therefore there is in the world an admirable intelligence, wherever it may be. This argument is old, and none the worse for that. All living bodies are composed of levers, of pulleys, which function according to the laws of mechanics; of liquids which the laws of hydrostatics cause to circulate perpetually; and when one thinks that all these beings have a perception quite unrelated to their organization, one is overwhelmed with surprise. The movement of the heavenly bodies, that of our little earth round the sun, all operate by virtue of the most profound mathematical law. How Plato who was not aware of one of these laws, eloquent but visionary Plato, who said that the earth was erected on an equilateral triangle, and the water on a right-angled triangle; strange Plato, who says there can be only five worlds, because there are only five regular bodies: how, I say, did Plato, who did not know even spherical trigonometry, have nevertheless a genius sufficiently fine, an instinct sufficiently happy, to call God the "Eternal Geometer," to feel the existence of a creative intelligence? Spinoza himself admits it. It is impossible to strive against this truth which surrounds us and which presses on us from all sides. late_model
"The fact that a young student should be afraid to openly explore design inference just makes me sick." Me too. Arguments for design are very much alive and well (and considerably more potent than arguments for materialism in my humble opinion). People who scoff at them and claim that Hume demolished them are either in denial or suffer from some sort of cognitive pathology. Thanks for the references, Bill. I, too, will like to look at these. crandaddy
The fact that a young student should be afraid to openly explore design inference just makes me sick. chunkdz
Bill, still pondering that 'meme' about the necessity of evil as a necessary conseuence of human choice. Here's an early book on non-evolution evidence at http://home.planet.nl/~gkorthof/korthof77.htm mmadigan
The Little Nipper (Forget to end the first link) tribune7
To see, the rigourous reasoning behind the other side have him check out the page of John H. McDonald at the University of Delaware where he shows in no uncertain terms how the mousetrap could have evolved. Now, unenlighted types might point out that the mousetrap was designed because James Henry Atkinson patented the "Little Nipper" back in 1897, but that's merely stealth Creationism. tribune7
As a service to the ID community, we have created a philosophy bibliography page at ResearchID.org. Feel free to add or modify recommendations. URL: http://www.researchintelligentdesign.org/wiki/Philosopical_Bibliography_of_ID JosephCCampana

Two philosophical issues I'd like to see discussed more are the primacy of agency and mathematical (logical, linguistic) realism. Whether we're theists or animists or whatever, it seems that if we support ID we're saying that agency is fundamental and not derivative. Also universals are under attack these multi-cultural days, expecially in my field of linguistics, and though no one talks about it I think some form of Platonism is in order. So I'd recommend Angus Menuge's "Agents Under Fire" but, as for mathematical Platonism, I don't really know of a good positive book. Anybody else?

[It was silly of me to omit this. I've substituted it for my own NFL on the list. --WmAD] Rude

From Germany recommend:
Werner Gitt, "In the Beginning was Information" 2nd English Edition, 2000
CLV - Christliche Literaur-Verbreitung e. V.
P.O. Box 11 01 35 - D-33661 Bielefeld, Germany ISBN 3-89397-255-2
Prof. Dr-Ing. Werner Gitt, "Am Anfang war die Information" German Edition 1994, Hanssler, Neuhausen-Stuttgart, Germany
Director & Professor Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Braunschweig(German Federal Institute of Physics & Technology)

[This book is worth looking at on general grounds, but I'm not convinced an analytic philosopher would profit much from it. --WmAD] DLH

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