Comments on Darwinism's Falsification



And of course, the title of Kenneth Miller’s book is Finding Darwin’s God, and he appears to argue for decidedly Darwinian answers to Behe, not non-Darwinian ones.

(John Harshman) #104

Let me point out that the inference implied by that title, that passerines are descended from some sort of hawklike bird, is fairly weak.

(Bill Cole) #105

What was the system that proceeded it :slight_smile:

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #106

That’s explained here: The Evolution of Vertebrate Blood clotting.

(Bill Cole) #107

. But does this also mean that it could not have evolved?

This type of comment is problematic to Millers counter argument.


What reasons are given for Evo-Devo challenging “neo-Darwinism”?


I understand Hume, just not what the fact/value dichotomy had to do with our exchange in this thread.

Hume said we cannot logicaly deduce values from facts, which is correct as far as it goes. But that does not mean we cannot rationally justify some moral standards above others non-deductively and including facts about eg human flourishing as part of that rational justification. Hume himself went on to do this in his work according to many interpreters of him.

Furthermore, many philosophers reject that fact/value dichotomy (Putnam has a book with that title). Even scientific facts are immersed in values – those values science brings to bear to judge the best explanation of a set of observations.

Unless we are willing to appeal to God or other supernatural standards, we have to appeal to effectiveness in meeting our goals as the justification for our values. Moral goals may include overarching principles like “Always treat persons as ends, never means”. Scienctific goals are to explain, predict, control our shared world.


Thanks for fleshing out the argument being made in at least in enough detail to understand your link.

Here is a conversation starter. Did Darwin mean the same thing by his mechanism of natural selection as modern biology means by the mechanism of natural selection?

I say no, because the meaning of a term of art in science is given by its use in the theory under consideration. So the modern understanding of ‘natural selection’ must include at least the modern context of the mathematics of population genetics and (I think) the biochemistry of mutation and reproduction.

So that is another ambiguity to beware of when discussing Darwinism: which theory is being used to define the mechanisms implied by the term. I take this thread to be about modern science’s understanding of the mechanism of natural selection.

Now this issue also raises interesting issues in philosophy of science regarding eg scientific progress and how scientific terms can refer to reality but still change meaning over time as scientific theories change. But those issues belong in another thread.


That seems to be equivocation. Science does not judge conclusions based on their moral value. Science does use concepts like empiricism and parsimony, but those aren’t moral values.

In the theory of evolution, the fittest do tend to survive at a higher rate. This is a description of nature. However, that doesn’t translate into a moral value. Who ought to survive is up to our moral judgments, not science. That’s the difference between evolution and eugenics.


You appear to be speaking of Neo-Darwinism and rejecting the idea that Darwinism can be used in place of Neo-Darwinism. Yet if you look at the evidence the two terms are interchangeable.

It’s simply a red herring to attempt to paint the use of the term Darwinism as anachronistic, yet people do so for rheotorical reasons, obviously.

I refer you yet again to the series of books “Darwinism Today.”

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #113

No painting involved here. No attempting either.

Just letting you know that Darwinism is an anachronistic term. If you want to have your anti-evolutionary argument dismissed, use the term. If you want to demonstrate you are engagin modern evolutionary science, drop it. Not complex. We know, of course, what path most IDists will take.


Neo-Darwinism and Darwinism can mean anything you want, so they really don’t mean anything.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #115

Except in the Dissent from Darwinism, they do define it, as that anachronistic version of evolution. So they shoot themselves in the foot there.


I reject any use of attempt to discuss the merits of the science by instead referring to the dictionary or to what some speaker happened to write in some unspecified context. Only serious, informed discussions of the scientific mechanisms interests me if the topic is the science of evolutionary biology.

I am also happy to discuss the intellectual climate in which Darwin did his science, or how the science of biology has changed, or today’s ideological use of understandings, misunderstandings, and distortions of the science.

I just want to understand which topic is under discussion.

My issue is not which words are interchangeable, but rather understanding the context and then dealing with the details of the issues. I have no interest in arguing semantics beyond pointing out its occurence.

It’s often not clear to clear to me which context is at issue in your posts. It does not help when you refer to a series of books without at least giving the indication of which of these topics they discuss and what relevant expertise the author has for that context. Even better would be to take the time to summarize the arguments they present.

I know I also link to SEP or other sources in many of my posts. If I have not made clear the topic and context for their discussion, or if I have not given at least a high level summary of the issues the links discuss, then feel free to call me out as well.


I completely agree. It is a different set of values that science brings to bear. The exact ones you mention plus others. ETA: So not even science has a clear separation of fact and value, that is of is and ought.

Even science, when many including me take as our best example of objective knowledge, necessarily involves values and standards.

Putnam’s point is that any facts of science, beyond those which are simply everyday observations, are interlinked with the theories the facts are embedded in. For example, facts about quarks are part of the theories in the standard model. But then those theories require the types of evaluative judgments you mention.

(John Mercer) #118

Correct. And do any creationists call physicists Newtonists?

(Guy Coe) #119

Not that I know of. But I do know of biologists who are, weirdly, comfortable with being called Darwinist.

(S. Joshua Swamidass) closed #120

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