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  Topic: Uncommonly Dense Thread 2, general discussion of Dembski's site< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Reciprocating Bill

Posts: 4230
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Jan. 01 2009,10:35   

Steve Fuller is a sloppy thinker, and has written an sloppy New Year's post that trades on blurred distinctions. Let us sharpen some distinctions he would rather blur.
‘Intelligent design’ is presumably something more than a long-winded way of saying ‘design’. The phrase implies that the design displays signs of intelligence, which in turn means that the nature of the intelligence can be inferred, however fallibly, from the nature of the design...Contrast this with a ‘design science’ that insists that nothing about the artisan follows from the artefact. We know the artefact is designed simply because it functions in certain capacities in certain environments – and ‘design science’ is about identifying such things and making inferences about their functions, nothing more.

The inferences drawn by "design science" are to agency, which is very much something more. The feigned agnosticism deployed by the ID movement concerns the identity of the agent and features that go beyond bare agency. And even Fuller knows that among the cdesignproponetists of the ID movement this agnosticism is counterfeit, and that there is no ongoing "design science" of the sort he suggests.
‘Design science’ is pretty uncontroversial, and card-carrying evolutionists do it all the time under various guises, most fashionably these days as ‘evo-devo’.

Biologists characterizing complex and adapted functioning do not invoke agency as an explanation, which is required for "design" in the sense intended by ID. Neither does investigation into the evolution of development. Biologists do not do "design science" in the sense intended by ID at all. So this statement is simply false.
The controversy starts only once people talk about origins, whether design arose intelligently or unintelligently.

Fuller again equivocates upon the word "design." He has assigned "design" one meaning (the fact of biological complexity and adaptedness), while the entire ID movement wants another (an inference to agency.) The actual "controversy" concerns whether biological complexity and adaptedness arose from natural processes, or instead reflects agency. No one in evolutionary biology resorts to explanation in terms of agency, whether intelligent or unintelligent. So Fuller has again miss-stated the central issue, and has attempted to coopt scientific work (and legitimacy) to which ID can lay no claim.
Suppose the matter of evidence remains unresolved or equally balanced: What difference does it make whether I endorse ID or Darwinism?

Suppose Steve Fuller offered premises that wishfully assume his conclusions? The matter of evidence is not unresolved nor equally balanced. Indeed, there is no scientific evidence uniquely supportive of ID. Nor is there an active research program (empirical or otherwise) motivated by ID. But it is not surprising that Fuller makes an assertion so obviously contrary to reality; in the absence of this fiction, his entire thesis collapses. The fact that ID is a "scientific" proposition that lacks any evidentiary foundation suggests a reason to reject ID.
...Does it lead me to do science differently – in terms of the research questions chosen, the range of interpretations given to research results, as well as science’s broader cultural significance? The answer to these questions seems to me to be clearly yes – and this is what the battle is about.

Indeed. Devoid of scientific content, ID has nothing else to discuss. The entire movement, while masquerading as "science," is in fact a cultural project conducted for the purpose of apologetics. Steve Fuller thinks he has outlined new topics for discussion within the ID movement, when in fact he embarrasses its principals by blankly pointing to this reality.  
Only some leftover logical positivism and a repressive US legal environment could be discouraging ID supporters from thinking about science in a way that acknowledges the philosophical and theological issues implied here.

Nicely capturing the paranoia that characterizes the movement, paranoid assertions that justify its failures.
Contemporary ID is (at best) a collection of concepts in search of a synthetic theory capable of interrelating the evidence already on the table...

Nicely capturing the failure of ID to constructively generate either positive theoretical assertions or new evidence of any kind.

Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

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