Page 115 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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objection based on a constitutive reading of (1a) or (1b) begs the questions against scientific
realism.
What does all this imply for creationism? Let us turn to Johnson (1992):
“The empirical evidence in itself is inadequate to prove the necessary creative power
of natural selection without a decisive boost from the philosophical assumption that
only unintelligent and purposeless processes operated in nature before the evolution
of intelligence.”
“It looks to me as if Darwinians are like someone who, having observed that tugboats
sometimes maneuver ocean liners in tight places by directing high-pressure streams of
water at them, concludes that he has discovered the method by which the liners cross
the Atlantic.” (Van Inwagen, 1994)
Realism is false because scientific claims are incomplete descriptions
This argument is a broader form of the creationist’s arguments that evolution is false because
it cannot answer
all
of the questions concerning the diversity of life forms on the planet. The
argument attempts to make heavy weather of the fact that language fails to capture the full
complexity of the world. The argument appears to have the following form:
(1)
Scientific claims fail to completely capture contextual factors.
(2)
If scientific claims fail to completely capture contextual factors then scientific claims
fail to express the full truth.
(3)
If scientific claims fail to express the full truth then realism is false.
(4)
If scientific claims fail to completely capture contextual factors then realism is false.
(From 2 and 3)
(5)
Therefore, realism is false. (From 1 and 4)
The first premise is clearly true. Language abstracts away from particulars. If I say
That
electron has negative charge
, my description of an electron leaves out a plethora of detail,
contextual or otherwise.
The second premise is more problematic. It is not obvious what is meant by “the full
truth.” With regard to individual propositions, truth appears to be a binary notion. A
proposition is either true or false. This makes it difficult to know what to make of the notion
of the “full truth.” The most charitable interpretation understands the “full truth” as the
complete set of true propositions describing some subject. Thus, the full truth about a
particular electron must include a description of every property of the electron, relational or
otherwise. Understood this way, the second premise is clearly true. If scientific claims fail to
completely capture contextual factors, then it must be the case that scientific claims do not
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