Pharyngula

If you go to the main ScienceBlogs page, you’ll discover that the Buzz for the day is this little gem, triggered by one of our newbie bloggers:

Spirituality and Science

Over the last few hundred years, science has provided a mind-boggling richness of answers about the workings of the universe. For many people the importance of religion, at least as an explainer of the natural world, has shifted. Is it possible to believe what science teaches us about nature, and also be a person of faith? A Galactic Interactions post about being a Christian and a scientist has ignited an explosive debate.

Appropriately enough, the latest Templeton Prize has just been awarded. $1.5 million for this rubbish:

Professor Taylor has written extensively on the sense of self and how it is defined by morals and what one considers good. People operate in the register of spiritual issues, he said, and to separate those from the humanities and social sciences leads to flawed conclusions.

“The deafness of many philosophers, social scientists and historians to the spiritual dimension can be remarkable,” Professor Taylor said in remarks prepared for delivery at the announcement of the prize at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York this morning. This is damaging because it “affects the culture of the media and educated public opinion in general.”

There’s also much more at the Templeton Prize site. He blathers on and on about “spiritual thinking” and a “spiritual domain” without ever telling us what the heck it is, although it does seem to be all tied up in believing in a religion, any religion. So, someone tell me, how am I supposed to hear this “spiritual dimension”? What is it supposed to mean?

Near as I can tell, it means making up vague nonsense about special values only religious people can have, and getting a cool million five for insisting on it. What a sweet scam, and what a useless lot of hot air.

(via Butterflies and Wheels)

Comments

  1. #1 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 15, 2007

    In short, unless you bother to actually specify what you mean, the use of the word spirit is just a lot of noise. Or, worse, it’s an intentional rhetorical trick.

    For a non-native speaker, the terms “spirituality” and “spiritualism” are so overloaded that they seem to be invented by someone dipping into too much of the sauce.

    Spirituality:

    1. The state, quality, manner, or fact of being spiritual.
    2. The clergy.
    3. Something, such as property or revenue, that belongs to the church or to a cleric.

    ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dict.asp?Word=spirituality )

    The spiritual, involving (as it may) perceived eternal verities regarding humankind’s ultimate nature, often contrasts with the temporal, with the material, or with the worldly. A sense of connection forms a central defining characteristic of spirituality — connection to something greater than oneself, which includes an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence. Equally important, spirituality relates to matters of sanity and of psychological health. Like some forms of religion, spirituality often focuses on personal experience (see mysticism).

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality )

    Spiritualism:

    1.
    a. The belief that the dead communicate with the living, as through a medium.
    b. The practices or doctrines of those holding such a belief.
    2. A philosophy, doctrine, or religion emphasizing the spiritual aspect of being.

    ( http://www.thefreedictionary.com/spiritualism )

    Spiritualism is a religious movement that began in the United States and was prominent in the 1840s – 1920s, especially in English-speaking countries. The movement’s distinguishing feature is the belief that the spirits of the dead can be contacted by mediums.

    ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritualism )

    The useful definitions seems to be either about the verities (lasting facts) or personal experience.

    The former is question begging. Which facts about humanity can be justified besides what we observe? Folk psychology on the human condition (“mystery” et cetera) doesn’t give justified knowledge, but is describing the later (experiences) in an effort to understand them and predict or own and others behavior.

    Which gets us right back to spirits. On methods of getting and valuing experience, what says that a religious experience is to be valued higher than, say, a glass of a good wine? After all, a small amount of alcohol do your health good and lift your spirits, but any amount of religion seems to be downright harmful to the sanity of your mind.

  2. #2 Steve LaBonne
    March 15, 2007

    potentilla, can you name any other ways? As well as justifying the claim that what they yield is properly called “knowledge”?

  3. #3 Chuck
    March 15, 2007

    I just want to add a couple of points. First of all, any scientist who believes in the gods of popular religion is kidding himself. Second, there is room in the naturalist and materialist world view for an appreciation of the fundamental mystery of existence – which science can never touch. Third, as rationalists, the best we can do for society is promote rationalism and defend scientific theories and fight to the death any proposals for government to curtail science or science education – but we cannot, and will never, end superstition. The best we can hope for is a population in which the most irrational elements are checked at every turn, and for the bulk of the populace to have its inevitable superstitions checked by good humor and common sense. There is a kind of Jacobinism to atheists like Dawkins and PZ, who think that religion and superstition can be banned outright from human society and human nature. As many studies in evolutionary psychology are showing, there seems to be an inherent bias towards personalizing the blind forces of nature in the human mind. People like Rob Knop are not the enemy: you will never eradicate spiritual emotions from people, but you can eradicate fundamentalism in the same practical sense that racism is eradicated – meaning it has no currency as an idea; it certainly exists, but it is underground.

    Trying to put principles above the realities of human nature is always mistaken, and will always lead to failure or disaster.

  4. #4 Louie
    March 15, 2007

    Back in the days when I was a (ahem) parapsychologist, I did want to punch my colleagues in the face, whenever this most horrid of words was used…

  5. #5 Sam C
    March 15, 2007

    When creationists and other know-nothings make claims about his area of expertise despite their total ignorance, PZM rightly objects. Why does this rule not apply to PZM (and many others in this thread) making claims about Charles Taylor? Whatever you think of his claims, he’s an important, interesting philosopher, who’s thought and written a great deal, none of which people here have apparently read. PZM: I defer to your expertise in its area. But in this case, you don’t know what you’re talking about. How about having the intellectual maturity to admit it?

    Probably ineffectual attempt to ward off flames: I’m an atheist, with no interest in ‘spirituality’. But I do actually know what I’m talking about in my area of expertise, which is philosophy, and I get a bit tired of silly remarks from people who don’t.

  6. #6 potentilla
    March 15, 2007

    Are you saying that the scientific method is no more rational than the human tendancy to give intention or mystical powers to the world because of lack of understanding?

    If that was addressed to me, I’m saying that I am sadly afraid that that is the case, given that scientific method cannot be validated either inductively or deductively.

    To say that rationality and spirituality are a genetic disposition doesn’t seem to make sense Why? If either or both had selective advantage in the past, or were a side-effect of one or a number of things than did have selective advantage?

    (See references to Hume on induction, GNXP on religion as a natural phenomenon and someone’s summary above of Jason Rosenhouse on the latter subject, if any of this is material which is unfamiliar to you).

  7. #7 potentilla
    March 15, 2007

    There is no evidence of a “spirituality” gene or a “rationality” gene. No indeed – they are concepts worthy only of a tabloid newspaper. That is not to say, however, that there is no evidence that evolution has had no effect on the way we think in areas that could reasonably be called “rationality” and “spirituality”, either adaptively or as a spandrel.

    Knowledge and superstition are learned… not genetically passed down. But there might be variability in the readiness of the minds of individuals to acquire and retain certain sorts of knowledge and superstition. The mind that can maintain these learnings are the same genetically.Your evidence?

  8. #8 Blake Stacey
    March 15, 2007

    Chuck:

    This is exactly what I’m talking about when I refer to ‘human nature’. I’m not talking about some kind of Platonic, typological, essentialist “human nature”. I’m talking about the fact that our minds have been shaped by evolution. They continue to be shaped by evolution, but the pace at which this happens is literally geological.

    OK, fine by me.

    The pace of cultural change so outstrips the rate of biological change that we can refer to the realities of human nature as shaped by our evolutionary heritage. Tribalism, religious thinking, and other phenomena are caused [by] this, and to pretend, like the Jacobins did, that we can just make man anew by imprinting atheism upon the blank slate, we are sadly mistaken. Genes don’t determine destiny, but they do weigh upon it.

    Why is “religious thinking” a necessary part of our genetic heritage? Two points:

    1. For the vast majority of our evolutionary past, the concept of religion was simply irrelevant. Bacteria, fish, shrews and monkeys (to list a few categories into which our ancestors fell at various times) have no concept of religion. Other species use tools and even wage war, but this one is all our own. Territoriality, tribalism, family, sex, curiosity and fear all exist outside the human realm. Why aren’t these the ineradicable traits with which all plans for human destiny must deal?

    2. As Jason Rosenhouse pointed out (see the snipped I quoted above), “religion” is not a monolithic thing. Some aspects, such as a tendency to interpret the non-human world in human terms, may be genetic and thus for all practical purposes “writ in stone”. Other aspects are almost certainly memetic, and can in principle be offset or even eradicated by other ideas. Compare this with sex, which certainly has a longer evolutionary history than religious belief — over a billion years compared to twenty thousand or so. Our nerves are placed by instructions coded in DNA, but in the past few decades we’ve shifted (and diversified) our cultural viewpoints on premarital sex, homosexuality and a few other things. We invented contraception which works, changing gender relations forever.

    Many people have compared the “New Atheism” (a silly term) to LGBT liberation movements. Even if we can’t change our biology, we can take a whack at our ideas, and the history of all progressive movements right the way back to the abolition of slavery says that ideas are not as fixed as the Zeitgeist often insists. And never forget how we do change our biology: ours is the first civilization in which a child can reasonably expect to live a full “threescore years and ten”, and we damn sure didn’t do it by hewing to the prohibitions of Leviticus. We alter our minds in ways whose consequences we can barely foresee, by ingesting chemicals from Prozac to LSD. (If I really wanted to poke a hornet’s nest, I’d suggest that psychedelic drugs are the birth-control pills of a spiritual revolution. . . but hey, it’s 2007, not 1968.)

    And as for any assertion that a particular human trait is biologically based, let alone inviolate, I can only say. . . CITOKATE.

    (Note: Prozac is apparently on the Banned Words List!)

  9. #9 Blake Stacey
    March 15, 2007

    Steve_C said something I should have referenced in my previous post:

    Before there were scientific explanations for the natural world humans made assumptions about the world because they did not understand it… The sun rose because… “it was riding on a chariot”. Is there a genetic reason for people to give meaning and purpose to things that have no meaning and purpose? I don’t see any proof of that other than humans have evolved with an incredibly creative and robust mind. That same creativity gives us rational problem solving too.

    Yes. From a certain perspective, the division between rationality and religion is a false dichotomy. Religious explanations of natural phenomena (“the sun rises because it’s pushed by the kheper-beetle”) are rational explanations invented in a time when we knew more about beetles than about stars. Why we hang on to these explanations when better ones come along. . . now that’s where irrationality enters the picture.

  10. #10 Steve_C
    March 15, 2007

    The evidence?

    People raised with religion who give it up. The same mind has learned the superstition but eventually gains the knowledge to let it go.

    Epicurus was around before christianity existed.

  11. #11 Steve LaBonne
    March 15, 2007

    I wonder how much JJW thinks one would have to read in the oeuvre of, say, a chemist publishing about phlogiston in order to recognize him as a crank.

  12. #12 poke
    March 15, 2007

    I find it odd, potentilla, that you have these two forms of reasoning, one that has been highly successful and the other that has been a historical failure, but you’ll accept that the latter can pose a genuine challenge to all the results of the former. Inductive scepticism is obviously false; if it were true that there isn’t a good response to it, that would reflect more poorly on the sort of reasoning that typifies philosophy than on science.

    Regardless, most modern philosophers only take inductive fallibilism seriously, rather than inductive scepticism. Once of the answers is to make inductive reasoning probabilistic as Steve LaBonne pointed out. Personally, I think the whole range of arguments from empiricism to inductive scepticism/fallibilism are nonsensical: empiricism of that sort requires some unjustified a priori notion of what’s given to our senses. But what’s given to our senses is a matter for science. Observables, therefore, must be defined in terms of the ontology of science, which already includes unobservables, and this precludes any questions as to whether moving from observables to unobservables is justified.

  13. #13 JJWFromME
    March 15, 2007

    Madam– No, I’m a technical writer with humanities scholar envy who wishes he discovered Isaiah Berlin much earlier. Stuff like postmodernism was a big reason why I lost interest in my first year of grad school in English Lit several years back. (And as I said above, I studied religion as a liberal arts undergraduate.)

  14. #14 potentilla
    March 15, 2007

    And once you start thinking about WHY such a tendency might have evolved then, in the form of “evolutionary epistemology” that can IMHO be quite a good answer.

    Yes indeed. Which makes it quite satisfying as the only other candidate. But still means that I am committed to induction for a reason that I can’t justify by logic.

    you have these two forms of reasoning, one that has been highly successful and the other that has been a historical failure, but you’ll accept that the latter can pose a genuine challenge to all the results of the former No, I don’t accept that. As I have stated several times above, I have a strong committment to inductive reasoning. Inductive scepticism is obviously false But one reason that you (and “most modern philosophers”) have that opinion could be an evolved predisposition as above. I apologise, but I don’t have the energy right now to enter into the debate in the end part of your comment.

  15. #15 Steve LaBonne
    March 15, 2007

    But still means that I am committed to induction for a reason that I can’t justify by logic.

    Logic does not provide any kind of foundation for knowledge, it’s simply the study of the structure of statements and arguments. And deductive logic is by no means the only kind. So I would call this complaint both philosophically naive, and misguided. Evolutionary epistemology, whatever its actual merits, is certainly the kind of thing that in principle could provide a perfectly workable justification of induction.

  16. #16 E L
    March 15, 2007

    All logics are based on certain axioms. It doesn’t mean they are circular arguments or lead in any way to epistemic relativism.

    The whole ‘Problem of Induction’ argument rests on the premise that abstract thought, unlike experiences, exists outside of time and reality, which I don’t personally accept. It first assumes humans can make observations, form cognitive memories and reason abstractly, then goes on to assume a “non-uniform” universe where induction and predictions cannot be taken for granted and the present has no relevance to the next instance in time. Where is the justification in saying observation, memories and logical reasoning are possible in that scenario?

  17. #17 Steve LaBonne
    March 15, 2007

    What I’m saying is that evolutionary epistemology, which you appeared to endorse, has at least the form of a perfectly good justification, and that therefore, if you accept it, continuing to complain that you can’t justify induction “logically” makes no sort of sense.

  18. #18 Tulse
    March 15, 2007

    Evolutionary epistemology, whatever its actual merits, is certainly the kind of thing that in principle could provide a perfectly workable justification of induction.

    It seems to me that the whole notion of evolutionary epistemology is engaged in question-begging. The entire basis of the the approach, as I understand it, is essentially “what worked in the past got selected, so that approach must be correct/true/valuable”. And that, of course, falls directly back into the problem of induction, namely, presuming that the past will resemble the future. Just because it is “nature” that is doing the induction doesn’t mean that induction is on any firmer philosophical footing.

    In practical terms, the problem of induction isn’t a big deal, since, as many have pointed out, it seems to generally work OK if we use induction, and doing so has given us technology. But that doesn’t mean that the problem is solved, just that we are able to go about our business without solving it.

  19. #19 WillG
    March 15, 2007

    The purge begins…..
    The brownshirts are coming the brownshirts are coming!!!!!
    The Southpark episode on Dawkins/atheists will be considered prescient in due time.

    Steve LaBonne-

    Hume’s doubts about human knowledge led him to be skeptical of all phenomena. Using his ideas to justify your certainty about spiritual phenomena is not only absurd but also reveals a deep misunderstanding of Hume. Being skeptical also entails an openness to ideas that this echochamber of a forum lacks.

  20. #20 Kagehi
    March 15, 2007

    No, the ‘abstraction’ has to be there before the human nervous system can find it.

    By this same logic World of Warcraft “existed” *someplace* well before anyone thought about coding it. Taken to its logical conclusion, the only valid answer to such a statement about abstraction, never mind knowledge, is the sort of bizarro world suggested by some people who have yet to present evidence, only arguments, for the universe being really a infinite set of probabilities and our “consciousness” flitting back and forth between “possible” versions at a whim. Like some sort of goofy “choose your own adventure” novel. The whole problem being fundimentally that their isn’t any explanation in their theory as to how many “minds” are actually flitting about, how they can be aware of each other as anything other than probabilist oddities in the morrass of possibilities, or how precisely time can appear to be linear and non-reversible, in any context where their own theory seems to imply that these flitting conscousnesses should be able to jump to some completely different path, with a completely different historical context. Or, more to the point, why this is even useful, since the implication of the lack of “knowing” that this has transpired in the context of the physical world is that no awareness of *having* shifted to a new set of historical events is even possible.

    Its all pretty damn useless imho, since it does nothing to explain anything in any useful context and invalidates *everything* including existence as we know, or any capacity “to” know if its factual, if it was true.

    As to the complaints that PZ or any of the rest of us are not “qualified” to address spiritual matters or that we haven’t “tried” some things. The people making such accusations are forgetting that many of the people that do post here, despite now being atheists, started out among believers. And more to the point, the nature of ones own mind, and thus by extrapolation, other people’s, never mind what constitutes spirituality, are close to home. One might as well try arguing that having never *seen* the feet of Professor Taylor that any declairation about the expected number of toes, how many feet he has, where they are attached to his body, or where he might walk with them are “unkown to PZ, and thus cannot justifiably be commented on.” Its a bullshit argument. You want to argue about the scholarship of PZ talking about some aspect of Taylor’s descriptions (assuming he made such a study and used it as the central theme of a paper) that arose from studying nose ring fetishes in Amazon rainforests, you would have every right to call him on it, assuming of course that the complaint was that Taylor knew nothing about nose rings or Amazon tribes. But we are not talking about abstract scholarly knowledge here. There is nothing taylor can said to have done in getting his PHD, other than studying the same sort of stuff PZ and others here have shelves full of themselves, since actually reading it was what led most to reject religion, *or* being handheld through the study of those materials so that Taylor got the “right” answers from doing so, that justifies the claims that PZ is less qualified to comment on them. And frankly, the sort of hand holding, and “These are the spiritual and religious answers you *must* get to pass this class, since any other interpretation is wrong.”, type of learning is precisely why, if anything, Taylor should be the one to whom the complaint of lack of qualification gets applied. PHDs are expected to figure out “why” the answer makes sense, using critical thinking, not sitting in a room for years being taught the *correct* answers by rote and then being given a multiple choice test at the end to see if they learned that 2*3=6. PHDs are expected to know *why* 2*3=6, not just that its the “correct” answer, or at bare minimum, ask if maybe it is the right answer in the first place. This thread shows clearly a lot of people “thinking” about what the correct answer might be on the subject of spirituality. Taylor’s work isn’t about finding the answers though, or even asking the question in the first place, its about justifying why he and the others that Templeton rewards don’t bother finding answers or asking any questions.

  21. #21 Sam C
    March 15, 2007

    Kagehi said:

    As to the complaints that PZ or any of the rest of us are not “qualified” to address spiritual matters or that we haven’t “tried” some things. The people making such accusations are forgetting that many of the people that do post here, despite now being atheists, started out among believers.

    The point that I and several others have made is that PZM, and a number of other people dismissing all of Taylor’s work, are not philosophers, and don’t know anything much about either philosophy in general, or Taylor’s work in particular. Whether you ‘started out among believers’ has nothing to do with this point.

    But we are not talking about abstract scholarly knowledge here. There is nothing taylor can said to have done in getting his PHD, other than studying the same sort of stuff PZ and others here have shelves full of themselves, since actually reading it was what led most to reject religion, *or* being handheld through the study of those materials so that Taylor got the “right” answers from doing so, that justifies the claims that PZ is less qualified to comment on them.

    Taylor is a distinguished professional philosopher, not some backwoods preacher, so yes, we are talking about abstract scholarly knowledge, in a field you and others have demonstrated no expertise in. I seriously doubt that PZM has ‘shelves full of’ work on Taylor’s areas of expertise: Hegel, the history of thought about the self, moral theory, liberal and anti-liberal political theory, the nature of culture and cross-cultural understanding, etc. He’d probably doubt that I have shelves full of work on the evolution and development of squid (I don’t, which is one reason I usually like reading this blog).

    I repeat: you don’t know what you’re talking about. You are attacking a straw man you have invented entirely on the basis of seeing the word ‘spirituality’ in a report of the award of a prize you dislike. This behaviour would rightly be despised and ridiculed if it were a creationist attacking an expert in evolutionary biology.

    I’ve responded in particular to Kagehi, but he/she is just an example of the depressing tendency for this blog and its commenters to take on the worst characteristics of its enemies. To PZM in particular: you wouldn’t put up with the level of ignorant misrepresentation displayed here about Charles Taylor and about philosophy, if it was about your own expertise. You’d be right not to. Why do you think it’s OK here?

  22. #22 Ron
    March 15, 2007

    Bravo, well said, Sam C!

  23. #23 Colugo
    March 15, 2007

    Speaking of science and spirituality, this should get some people’s blood boiling:

    ‘What Is Enlightenment’ magazine (“Redefining spirituality for an evolving world”) has a special issue on “The Real Evolution Debate”

    WIE’s diagram of 12 schools of evolutionary thought, divided into ‘Science,’ ‘Integration,’ and ‘Spirit’ – with everyone from Richard Dawkins to Madam Blavatsky to Jonathan Wells! One big continuum of ‘evolutionary thought.’
    http://www.wie.org/evolution-debate/map-unlocked.asp

    Article on the 12 categories/schools of evolutionary thought:
    http://www.wie.org/j35/real-evolution-debate.asp

    (I thought it interesting but somewhat flawed both conceptually and descriptively. I believe that the most scientifically viable aspects of ‘schools’ 2-5 will eventually become integrated into Modern Synthesis ‘orthodoxy’ as part of an ongoing developmental synthesis.)

    What Is Enlightenment’s directory of individuals who have contributed content to WIE features David Sloan Wilson, Jane Goodall, Ken Wilbur, and many others.
    http://www.wie.org/directory/default.asp

    WIE’s “about” page:
    http://www.wie.org/misc/about-wie.asp?ifr=hp-nav

    “WIE is the engaged, evolutionary movement that has emerged from our passionate pursuit of the question of what enlightenment really is, and what it means in the world today.”

  24. #24 David Marjanovi?
    March 15, 2007

    potentilla… you are not committed to induction. You are committed to the scientific method. That’s not the same thing, and I really can’t see why you think otherwise.

    In science, we come up with an idea — by induction, by dreaming, by reading some holy writ, it doesn’t matter –, deduct predictions from it, and then observe nature (whether on a lab bench or not) to test these predictions. In other words, we make up an idea about the general, deduct a prediction about the particular, and then look at the particular. That’s not inductive, that’s hypothetico-deductive as Popper apparently called it: from the general to the particular, not from the particular to the general as in induction.

    I think this approach can test and thus justify itself, but it’s past 3 at night, so I’m not able to think this through :-)

    “I cannot believe that Loki plays dice with the Universe”

    Sure he does. He likes playing in general. He just cheats, as usual. But I think your example is deliberate :o)

  25. #25 David Marjanovi?
    March 15, 2007

    potentilla… you are not committed to induction. You are committed to the scientific method. That’s not the same thing, and I really can’t see why you think otherwise.

    In science, we come up with an idea — by induction, by dreaming, by reading some holy writ, it doesn’t matter –, deduct predictions from it, and then observe nature (whether on a lab bench or not) to test these predictions. In other words, we make up an idea about the general, deduct a prediction about the particular, and then look at the particular. That’s not inductive, that’s hypothetico-deductive as Popper apparently called it: from the general to the particular, not from the particular to the general as in induction.

    I think this approach can test and thus justify itself, but it’s past 3 at night, so I’m not able to think this through :-)

    “I cannot believe that Loki plays dice with the Universe”

    Sure he does. He likes playing in general. He just cheats, as usual. But I think your example is deliberate :o)

  26. #26 Sam C
    March 16, 2007

    Stogoe said:

    It’s all just so much Courtier’s Reply. “Oh, but you have to study for decades the beautiful and complex intricacies of my particular Bullshit before you can discuss the Bullshit.”

    No, it isn’t: it’s the common-sense claim that in order to know whether or not X is bullshit, you have to know something about X. The claim ‘that’s bullshit’, made in ignorance, it’s just another version of the creationists’ favourite ploy, the argument from personal incredulity. Yet again: you would rightly refuse to put up with this coming from the other side, so why do you do it yourself?

    Tulse said:

    I think PZ is responding the same way he would if someone were granted a million-plus prize for homeopathy, or feng shui, or alien abduction research — it’s not the depth of the arguments, but just the subject matter that is the problem.

    Taylor’s subject is human life: how to live it, how to understand it. Do you mean to suggest that PZM thinks these are analogous to questions about feng shui? Or just that he already knows the answers? Neither claim seems very plausible.

    The issue is not Taylor’s entire body of work, but his invocation of “spirituality”, and I for one think I’ve seen enough excerpts of his writings on this subject to get a very good idea as to where he comes down on the issue. There is no subtle argument here to comprehend, at least that I can see — you are welcome to present the opposing case.

    OK: Taylor’s talk of ‘spirituality’ connects to his interests in 1) how humans orient themselves in the space of reasons and goods, and therefore understand themselves and their goals; 2) the possibility of a science of human nature; and 3) the centrality of interpretation to self-understanding and liberal politics. I can well see why, in an interview, he’d gather these ideas together with a useful if vague label. I don’t have any brief to defend his views – I think they’re largely mistaken – but I do want to defend the common-sense claim stated above. It is a matter of basic intellectual maturity to accept that there are expertises other than one’s own, and that one should refrain from comment about one’s areas of ignorance. I note, though, that I wasn’t thinking of Tulse as an example of this mistake: he/she’s been entirely sensible, so far as I can see.

  27. #27 Caledonian
    March 16, 2007

    No, it isn’t: it’s the common-sense claim that in order to know whether or not X is bullshit, you have to know something about X. The claim ‘that’s bullshit’, made in ignorance, it’s just another version of the creationists’ favourite ploy, the argument from personal incredulity. Yet again: you would rightly refuse to put up with this coming from the other side, so why do you do it yourself?

    Yes, yes, we have to know “something”, but that something doesn’t always have to be very much at all.

    With most stupid ideas, we don’t need to study them in depth before detecting their stupidity.

  28. #28 Tulse
    March 16, 2007

    Hume didn’t know what we know about the way physics and chemistry need to work for entities like us to be possible.

    That’s completely irrelevant to the issue of induction, since what we know about physics and chemstry is the product of induction. This isn’t a matter of “we just learn more about the Universe and the problem goes away”, since the problem is about how we learn about the Universe, and whether such learning can be justified. This can’t be solved by science, since the problem is philosophical.

    And QM is actually very lawful sort of theory (which is what makes all the woo about it so funny)- it doesn’t support your point at all.

    Hume lived in an age of Newtonian physics, where every action is predictable from prior actions. QM, to paraphrase Einstein “plays dice with the Universe” — individual particle action is much less predictable, and thus provides a far less stable platform for induction.

    Sure, the laws of phsyics could have been stable up till now and then could suddenly change. But why on earth shoudl anybody take such a supremely “gruesome” theory seriously? No reason at all.

    Well, as I pointed out earlier, there are many physicists who argue that various universal “laws” have changed dramatically over time, and may still be changing. But again, that’s more about the science, and is really irrelevant to the issue of justifying induction. To flip the question around into its classic form, the universe has been stable up till now, but why on earth should anyone believe that will be the case in the future? Note that saying “because the universe has been stable up till now” is not an answer, but just restates the question. That’s the whole point of the problem of induction.

    As I said, the whole thing is one of those silly philosophers’ games, like pretending to take solipsism seriously.

    You are absolutely right that the problem of induction is a philosophical problem, not a scientific one, so sure, if you have no interest in philosophy, you needn’t worry about it. Hume wrote that when he was troubled by these issues, “I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.” And yes, the world continued to work as it did in the past when he went to dinner.

    For a practicing scientist, the problem of induction is not an issue, any more than Goedel’s Incompleteness Theorem is an issue for accountants. So if you find it silly to worry about, that’s fine — I’m sure most CFOs don’t get worked up about Kurt’s musings either. But that doesn’t mean that the philosophical foundations of knowledge (not just scientific knowledge, but knowledge in general) have been secured, and no amount of scientific information is going to do that (just as no amount of neuroscience would give an answer to solipsism).

  29. #29 Caledonian
    March 16, 2007

    Incorrect, Mr. LaBonne. Bad philosophy is believing that solipsism is somehow distinguishable from non-solipsism. Good philosophy recognizes that it’s equivalent to its negation and is therefore without content.

  30. #30 CalGeorge
    March 16, 2007

    … but I do want to defend the common-sense claim stated above. It is a matter of basic intellectual maturity to accept that there are expertises other than one’s own, and that one should refrain from comment about one’s areas of ignorance.

    Bosh! I knew next to nothing about Taylor before he won the prize. I knew of him. I nonetheless feel qualified, as an atheist and a person of common sense, to comment on his efforts to promote ever more spirituality in an already god-intoxicated world. What we need today is more common sense, not more transcendental narcissism and bloody ignorant other-worldly spirituality.

    People who say stuff like this are full of it:

    Perhaps the only way fully to escape the draw towards violence lies somewhere in the turn to transcendence, through the full-hearted love of some good beyond life.
    http://gvanv.com/compass/arch/v1402/ctaylor.html

    Vague crap! Maybe the real problem is that he didn’t encounter enough ignorant naysayers while he was developing his theories of spirituality.

  31. #31 Tulse
    March 16, 2007

    Steve, I agree that you, and Hume, and even I have to take induction for granted. So if that’s you’re point, I’m with you — I don’t worry about it when I’m doing research. But that, I’d argue, is a psychological fact (we simply can’t get along in the world worrying if induction works). Whatever Hume’s psychological response to the problem, it’s clear that he thought we “cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its veracity”. That’s my only point (a point I think is still true today, despite many other very smart folks attempting to provide such arguments).

    So I don’t think we’re really all that far apart. Induction is a problem that no one but philosophers worries about, and since I love debating philosophy, I was motivated to address the issue when it came up. As I see it, it’s still a live philosophical issue, but it’s only relevant to philosophers — practicing scientists can do just as Hume suggests, and take it for granted, and dine and play backgammon with their friends.

  32. #32 David Marjanovi?
    March 16, 2007

    Sure, the laws of phsyics could have been stable up till now and then could suddenly change. But why on earth shoudl anybody take such a supremely “gruesome” theory seriously? No reason at all.

    That’s still induction.

    But we have a reason for not taking that “theory” seriously: Ockham’s Razor.

    Remember the battle scene in Conan the Barbarian? Remember the ridiculous huge ax Conan swings? That’s what Ockham shaved himself with every day.

    If you can’t falsify a hypothesis by testing a deduction from it, just hack it to pieces. :-|

  33. #33 David Marjanovi?
    March 16, 2007

    Sure, the laws of phsyics could have been stable up till now and then could suddenly change. But why on earth shoudl anybody take such a supremely “gruesome” theory seriously? No reason at all.

    That’s still induction.

    But we have a reason for not taking that “theory” seriously: Ockham’s Razor.

    Remember the battle scene in Conan the Barbarian? Remember the ridiculous huge ax Conan swings? That’s what Ockham shaved himself with every day.

    If you can’t falsify a hypothesis by testing a deduction from it, just hack it to pieces. :-|

  34. #34 Kagehi
    March 16, 2007

    I’ve responded in particular to Kagehi, but he/she is just an example of the depressing tendency for this blog and its commenters to take on the worst characteristics of its enemies. To PZM in particular: you wouldn’t put up with the level of ignorant misrepresentation displayed here about Charles Taylor and about philosophy, if it was about your own expertise. You’d be right not to. Why do you think it’s OK here?

    First off, you have *no* idea what PZ or anyone else has on their shelves, so claiming they “lack” sufficient expertise is just as stupid as Taylor insisting that his pet version of spirituality is a valid description of what anyone else thinks it is. Second, what is being misrepresented here? That he has a vague, mostly useless, and vacant definition, or that it *includes* the precept that the only valif version of it has to include a transendent being, because without one you can’t get spirituality? The former we reject for the same reason we reject the constant whining from the IDists about evidence they don’t have, the later we reject because its *entirely* philosophical and thus not only ignores, but in some ways flat out rejects any evidence suggesting that the presuppositions being made by him may be invalid, or at least seriously imcomplete. It is *literally* like having someone claiming expertise in Chakra points and energy channels commenting that all fields of nueroscience are incomplete or invalid because they don’t include Yin and Yang…

  35. #35 les
    March 16, 2007

    If Taylor’s appreciation of spirituality is so rarefied that a group of bright, educated, curious people are unfit to discuss and judge it, it seems to me his writing is just masturbation. Expensive masturbation, but…

  36. #36 Kevembuangga
    March 16, 2007

    Responding to many.

    Ron : You are not a Platonist, so, since its your only other choice, you must assume ‘a priori knowledge’, ie you are a Kantian.

    No, it’s NOT my “only other choice”, it was the alternative I thought YOU had, but since you confirmed you are a Platonist…
    I am neither a Platonist nor a Kantian.
    I you want to know read my comments in the links I provided.

    Sonja : It is the religious/spiritual people who cannot comprehend people like me, not the other way around.

    Yes, mostly because they insist on the “reality” of their specific beliefs.
    There is a relevant book by Canadian psychiatrist Jean-Pierre Valla which never got translated to english “Les états étranges de la conscience”
    A rough Google translation of the summary :

    This book presents a scientific study of the strange states of conscience (EEC) lived by the mentally normal people. From the accounts of 50 people interviewed in Montreal, the author studied these mental phenomena formerly considered as religious experiments. The material collected was confronted with the psychological theories into force, which associate these strange states the psychosis. The study highlights their reactional, but nonpathological character. An event which places the self-awareness in the center of the field of conscience however makes the states strange of the conscience different from the usual state of consciousness. Although they are spontaneously generally short, the strange states of the conscience can give rise to the famous oceanic feeling and to curious experiments of unfolding called out of body experiments by the Anglo-Saxon authors. The strangeness of these states caused multiple interpretations which should not however be confused with the state which gives them birth and which they seek to explain.

    David Harmon : Neurological experiments strongly suggest that this commonplace and easily inducible experience
    Even more so with the so-called entheogens psychotropics.
    An especially interesting one is Iboga because people just get to their preferred gods, the Bwiti meet the Forest Spirits, Christians meet Jesus, Hindus meet Ganesh, etc…
    This seems to both confirm the veracity of the psychological side of the spiritual experiences AND the looniness of the specific attached beliefs.
    You may also want to look at Valla’book above.

    I want to emphasize that one should not belittle spiritual experiences as “only a fancy psychological feature”, on the contrary, deep psychological drives make all the difference between despair and happiness as well as between mental health and insanity.

  37. #37 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 16, 2007

    As often as I usually say to myself, ‘Torbjörn hit that one right out of the park’, I’m afraid that I don’t necessarily know what you are talking about with this sentance. (Unless you are working toward a pun on spirits.)

    Thank you. But yes, here I played loose and fast, and you caught me on it. (And yes, I tried to connect to the booze mentioned in the beginning of my comment.)

    OTOH there can be harmful things. For example cognitive dissonances or the mindset that condemns other groups behavior just because they are different can probably be sources for real problems.

    I think the mere fact that so many people are still wrestling with this issue indicates that we do not have a satisfactory, generally acknowledged solution.

    To say that science “is inductive” or “have a problem of induction” or “have a problem with infinite regress” are among my pet peeves. As David noted, this isn’t taking into account how science mostly works, or how most scientists think. We test our theories, which is a different method, and the success of science gives validity to that, and by all means, also a certain validity to realism.

    I haven’t read Quine or the others, so I don’t know how they try to motivate that it is induction. But it seems to me it must be a specious or at least difficult argument.

    What we don’t have is a satisfactory, generally acknowledged description of all of science methods. I’m not sure if it is possible.

  38. #38 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 16, 2007

    As often as I usually say to myself, ‘Torbjörn hit that one right out of the park’, I’m afraid that I don’t necessarily know what you are talking about with this sentance. (Unless you are working toward a pun on spirits.)

    Thank you. But yes, here I played loose and fast, and you caught me on it. (And yes, I tried to connect to the booze mentioned in the beginning of my comment.)

    OTOH there can be harmful things. For example cognitive dissonances or the mindset that condemns other groups behavior just because they are different can probably be sources for real problems.

    I think the mere fact that so many people are still wrestling with this issue indicates that we do not have a satisfactory, generally acknowledged solution.

    To say that science “is inductive” or “have a problem of induction” or “have a problem with infinite regress” are among my pet peeves. As David noted, this isn’t taking into account how science mostly works, or how most scientists think. We test our theories, which is a different method, and the success of science gives validity to that, and by all means, also a certain validity to realism.

    I haven’t read Quine or the others, so I don’t know how they try to motivate that it is induction. But it seems to me it must be a specious or at least difficult argument.

    What we don’t have is a satisfactory, generally acknowledged description of all of science methods. I’m not sure if it is possible.

  39. #39 Sam C
    March 17, 2007

    Caledonian in 179, expressing what seems to be a quite widely-shared belief:

    Yes, yes, we have to know “something”, but that something doesn’t always have to be very much at all. With most stupid ideas, we don’t need to study them in depth before detecting their stupidity.

    I disagree. Very often, if we think ‘that’s stupid’ on the basis of shallow aquaintance, we’re just reinforcing our own prejudices. That’s certainly my own experience (and I’ve made plenty of foolish mistakes on that basis). It’s also my experience of many students I’ve taught. Sure, life is short and most ideas aren’t very good, so we have to make snap judgements about what’s worth pursuing in depth. I’m just suggesting that using an impression drawn from a few remarks as the basis for blanket dismissal of a lifetime’s work, is silly, and worryingly similar to creationist rhetoric: substituting loathing for engagement and ridicule for argument, appealing to personal incredulity, refusing to appreciate technical terms, quoting out of context, assuming that people who disagree with you are dishonest, stupid, or motivated by personal gain, etc. That’s the point I’ve been making all along, and I think I’ve defended it as much as is worth the bother. I’ll now go back to reading Dr Myers’s fascinating posts on his specialism, and ignoring the occasional bile, as I normally do. Thanks for the conversation, folks.

  40. #40 David Marjanovi?
    March 17, 2007

    the issue isn’t about methodology, it’s about the foundations of epistemology.

    As I said: testing deductions from hypotheses, and using Ockham’s Razor to distinguish between those hypotheses that have been tested but not falsified. What have I missed?

  41. #41 David Marjanovi?
    March 17, 2007

    the issue isn’t about methodology, it’s about the foundations of epistemology.

    As I said: testing deductions from hypotheses, and using Ockham’s Razor to distinguish between those hypotheses that have been tested but not falsified. What have I missed?

  42. #42 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    The whole point of the problem of induction is that past success provides no warrant for future success,

    And the whole point with theories is that they give reliable predictions. To do that we need to assume some global symmetries such as time and space invariance. But as other theories and assumptions they are verified by tests.

    This reliability in observations and verified theories is why we justifiably trust scientific theories, instead of merely believe that they will work tomorrow or merely believe that they work elsewhere. So we have a warrant, by the way our theories work.

    As I said earlier, “We test our theories, which is a different method, and the success of science gives validity to that”.

  43. #43 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    The whole point of the problem of induction is that past success provides no warrant for future success,

    And the whole point with theories is that they give reliable predictions. To do that we need to assume some global symmetries such as time and space invariance. But as other theories and assumptions they are verified by tests.

    This reliability in observations and verified theories is why we justifiably trust scientific theories, instead of merely believe that they will work tomorrow or merely believe that they work elsewhere. So we have a warrant, by the way our theories work.

    As I said earlier, “We test our theories, which is a different method, and the success of science gives validity to that”.

  44. #44 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    I understand that this is a hard issue to get your head around, especially if you approach it from a science background. But honest, it’s a genuine problem in philosophy, and not one that any amount of science will solve.

    No, I believe I understand the philosophical problem, and I am certainly not out to solve it for philosophers.

    What I am saying is that science method and most scientists thinking differ. There is no difference in assuming global symmetry over time or over space. And everything that goes into a theory is tested – theories assumes what is tested. Observations independently verify the theories, and especially verify the methods.

    It is a difference in outlook, and if a philosopher feel the need to choose a description that involves circularity or infinite regress to claim that this is a genuine problem, it is possible. It is always possible to claim an outlook that is functionally equivalent with solipsism.

    But it is also possible to choose descriptions that are close to what we observe, for example by separating the abstract theory from the (assumed) reality of the observations. This is what I think science is compelled to do. And it works.

    What I think is outright wrong here is when you claim that there is “no warrant for future success”. If knowledge is justified beliefs, global time symmetry is certainly justified. Now, a philosopher can claim that he isn’t satisfied with the justification and the knowledge, but that is another question. Specifically, he will probably not convince a scientist that it is an unjustified, unwarranted belief.

  45. #45 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    There are very many foundational problems in philosophy, but those don’t keep pratical work from continuing.

    I’m surprised you are saying this. How isn’t practical work or my abstract analysis above not philosophical stances? Philosophy is assumed to cover everything, right?

    the fact that arithmetic isn’t formally provable,

    Arithmetic is formally provable, in a more powerful system.

    What we don’t know is if it is consistent (but it is believed to be), and what we know is that it isn’t complete (since a counterexample is known). Now G(F) is independent of F, so we can have F+Not(G(F)) consistent. (What we can’t do is assume Con(F) as an axiom, since then F+Con(F)+Not(G(F)) is not consistent.)

    In any case, when your accountant does his calculations, he is using justified knowledge, the same mathematics as the mathematician has showed works.

  46. #46 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 18, 2007

    There are very many foundational problems in philosophy, but those don’t keep pratical work from continuing.

    I’m surprised you are saying this. How isn’t practical work or my abstract analysis above not philosophical stances? Philosophy is assumed to cover everything, right?

    the fact that arithmetic isn’t formally provable,

    Arithmetic is formally provable, in a more powerful system.

    What we don’t know is if it is consistent (but it is believed to be), and what we know is that it isn’t complete (since a counterexample is known). Now G(F) is independent of F, so we can have F+Not(G(F)) consistent. (What we can’t do is assume Con(F) as an axiom, since then F+Con(F)+Not(G(F)) is not consistent.)

    In any case, when your accountant does his calculations, he is using justified knowledge, the same mathematics as the mathematician has showed works.

  47. #47 Greg Byshenk
    March 18, 2007

    Tulse wrote (in #199):

    The whole point of the problem of induction is that past success
    provides no warrant for future success, without circularly invoking the very thing
    you are trying to warrant.

    This is true — if the question revolves around “trying to warrant” something.
    That is, it is quite true that — absent some solution to the problem of induction —
    there is no guarantee that induction will work, or that the future will be like
    the past. But one might well ask: “why do you need a guarantee?”

    It seems to be a fact of the univerese that it is coherent and consistent. All of
    our experience tells us that day (or event) n is similar to to day (or event)
    n – 1, and thus that day (or event) n + 1 will be similar to day (or
    event) n. Further still, our experience gives us no indication that the
    universe is incoherent or inconsistent. Which means that, while we have
    no proof or guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow, we have every reason to believe
    that it will, and no reason to believe that it will not.

  48. #48 Kevembuangga
    March 18, 2007

    JJWFromME : Well said, Sam C in #198.
    You mean this?
    Sam C : I disagree. Very often, if we think ‘that’s stupid’ on the basis of shallow aquaintance,

    Then I have to disagree with the disagreement, once you are knowledgeable in chemistry and physics you don’t need to study alchemy to know that trying to turn lead into gold is stupid.
    Just like you don’t need to study theology to know that religious fairy tales are nonsense and that “spirituality” albeit a tremendously moving range of emotions is a neurophysiology artefact.

  49. #49 croghan27
    March 18, 2007

    I am in no way a physicist, nor can I be described as very spiritual yet ……

    Spirituality to me involves etherial, immaterial matters, subjects that are commonly not the perview of science. Spirituality being: “c.1250, “animating or vital principle in man and animals,” Works for me, so long as it cannot be measured.

    With the dominance of Quantum Mechanics/matrix theory/string theory in small particle/wave thinking I see some hints of spirituality creeping into the physcial sciences.

    What can be more spiritual than something that is one thing and at the same time something else? According to Heisenberg and his conjugical variables we cannot know two things at the same time, is this not in the realm of the spirit?

    Strings apparently cannot be tested, observed or proven, yet they are the object of intense study.

    Perhaps the idea of spirituality has been been changed by physics, as it has changed so much else; and that of science, as the study of what physically is, has moved too.

  50. #50 potentilla
    March 18, 2007

    A grammatically correct interrogative sentence does not necessarily make a semantically valid question. True, but I don’t see why it has to do with the problem of induction? What is the semantically invalid question which you imply?

    Caledonian – ie the ultimate premises of a deductive argument can only be supported by induction?

    Of course we can logically go on doing science (as well as practically) since any scientific theory is ultimately still provisional, and I don’t see why that should not also apply to the methodology.

  51. #51 Greg Byshenk
    March 18, 2007

    Tulse:

    The whole issue is whether whether are justified inferring about
    the future from such past experience.

    And we are justified, for the reasons I already stated. Note that ‘justified’
    is not equivalent to ‘guaranteed'; for example, a belief that is false can nonetheless
    be justified.

    To be sure, some philosophers are very concerned about how/why it is that
    induction works, and such “foundational problems” as whether we can prove that
    science gets at the truth — but many others (including some philosphers of science)
    are not.

    Further, the fact that one cannot come up with a foundational proof does not
    mean that “the future will be like the past” is an unjustified assumption. It is an
    unproven assumption, but not an unjustified or unreasonable one. As already
    noted, we have every reason to believe that the universe is coherent and consistent,
    and no reason to believe the contrary, and thus the “assumption” is entirely reasonable.
    Yes, it is unproven, and it could turn out to be wrong — perhaps tomorrow
    we will learn that emeralds are ‘grue’ — but there is no reason whatsoever to think
    that such is the case, and until we see a ‘grue’ emerald, we are quite reasonably
    justified in concluding that emeralds are (and will remain) ‘green’.

  52. #52 Kevembuangga
    March 18, 2007

    potentilla : What is the semantically invalid question which you imply?

    “But philosophers want to know why induction works, why that assumption seems correct.”

    Assuming that you find an answer to this “why”, WHY would this answer be correct?
    Where do you stop?
    LOL

  53. #53 Keith Douglas
    March 19, 2007

    Steve LaBonne: Laudan is sort of correct. Think of it via a “data structure” analogy. The refusal to have any foundations at all is analogous to the empty list or the null string, but in the data structure of foundations. (“Coherentism” is really playing another game.) Haack, Bunge, Wittgenstein, and little me have written about various aspects about what one might call “transient foundationalism”, which solves many of the problems. In particular, it should remind us that the idea that because chemistry, physics, sociology and all the rest are the products of “induction” they have nothing to say about Hume’s problem(s) [I think there are several, often confused] is naive. Instead, look at how scientists solve the problem, albeit tacitly. I.e., it seems so overwhelmingly likely that we do have knowledge of a kind – how does it work? In this sense I am a weak pragmatist. (IMO, the answer to Goodman’s “new riddle” is trivial and Hume’s questions are more or less self-defeating, but those are other stories for other times.)

    I might add that none of these foundational questions (if that’s what they are) are, to my knowledge, the sort of thing that Taylor was concerned about.

  54. #54 Blake Stacey, OM
    March 19, 2007

    What can be more spiritual than something that is one thing and at the same time something else? According to Heisenberg and his conjugical variables we cannot know two things at the same time, is this not in the realm of the spirit?

    No, not really. David Griffiths’s introductory quantum mechanics textbook has an illuminating analogy on this point. Consider a long rope, attached to a fence post at one end. Take the other end, pull the rope fairly taut, and shake it up and down. If you make the rope shake at a definite frequency, then you can see it has a certain well-defined wavelength, but the idea of the “position of the wave” isn’t meaningful. What’s the “position” of a perfect sine wave? You can make an oscillation which travels along the rope with a fairly well-defined position — a wave packet — but you have to superpose many different frequencies, shaking the rope in a more complicated way.

    This is the domain of the mathematical technique known as Fourier analysis. Basically, the take-home message is that a wiggle on the rope can have either a well-defined position or a well-defined wavelength, but the more you try to make one quantity clear, the more uncertain you are forced to be about the other. And this is just talking about a rope tied to a fence!

    Strings apparently cannot be tested, observed or proven, yet they are the object of intense study.

    Perfect circles and precisely equilateral triangles don’t exist in the real world, either. Is Euclidean geometry “spiritual” merely because it describes useful idealizations of the real world? And of course, much of the “intense study” is aimed at finding ways to observe the little wiggly things, to make the ideas more useful. Physicists didn’t just say, “The strings are too small and the math is too hard. Let’s go shopping!” That’s not a way to solve problems.

    A growing body of evidence suggests that string theory may be useful for understanding the properties of a highly excited state of matter known as a quark-gluon plasma. This caught people rather by surprise, and many of the details remain to be figured out. Personally, I expect the worst case scenario is that string theory as applied to QGPs will be roughly analogous to Mendelian genetics in biology: a useful first step, historically significant, but lacking deeper insights.

  55. #55 Torbjörn Larsson
    March 19, 2007

    As I’ve said, these kind of foundational problems are really only a worry for philosophers. [...]
    But nonetheless, it’s a really interesting puzzle, and one for which there is no agreed-upon solution.

    Not so, science must and have been able to justify trust in physical laws over time.

    Frankly, I find the suggestion that we should deny that we trust laws instead of just believing in them rather ridiculous also for philosophers. It seems to be a basic definition of philosophy that knowledge is justified beliefs. And this knowledge is here what we call trust.

    What would be the reason to deny that science type of justifications is indeed a justification?

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