Racism and Methodological Naturalism

(Your faith in your reasoning that there is no truth outside of MN is unjustified. :slightly_smiling_face:)

I explicitly said that that is not a claim I would make. Please don’t misrepresent my position, or this will be a very short discussion.

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You implicitly believe it and live by it, so you are effectively contradicting yourself.

OK, @DaleCutler, our discussion is done. Thankfully, there are other here who are willing and able to engage in honest and reasonable debate. I’ll stick with them.

@Faizal_Ali, could you help me understand these a little bit? Are you saying that while something can be true outside of MN, it’s only through MN that we could actually know that it’s true? If that’s the case, could you expand just a bit more on what you mean by “know” here? Are you thinking something like “can demonstrate it to someone else”? Do you think truths outside of the scope of MN have no certainty or confidence — they are less than opinions.

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No. They are at best opinions.

Perhaps I should rephrase my position slightly: There are no methods other than MN thru which we can gain knowledge unobtainable thru MN.


I guess those theorems in mathematics are just demonstrations of opinion.


Okay. I don’t know if it can be done but let’s try. In addition to MN, science also needs clear and specific definitions of terms.

First, can we define ‘racism’ and ‘wrong’?

Let’s say racism is acting in a way that is disadvantageous to an individual solely because of a belief about that individual’s race.

There are various objections I can imagine to that definition, but I think it’s good enough.

Now I don’t want hog all the fun. Would anybody else like to provide a definition of wrong?

What the heck, I’ll give it a try. Wrong is . . .

Disapproved by the Christian God

Surely everyone can agree on that?:grinning:

In light of the Subject’s continuous and longstanding refusal to respond to surveys, we’ll have to come up with some other way to determine whether racism as defined above is disapproved by the Subject.

My suggestion would be to review the scriptures generally agreed to reflect the Subject’s views for comments on racism and categorize them as expressing approval, disapproval, or mixed feelings on the subject.

Another avenue might be to find and survey recognized experts on the Subject’s properties.

If say 95% of the relevant scripture passages express disapproval, we could say that it has been proven that racism is wrong using methodological naturalism.

I believe this method is highly dependent on how “wrong” is defined.

No, they are just part of methodological naturalism. There is nothing supernatural about math, and science regularly uses it.

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There’s nothing that could not be believed on faith. Everyone can just assert that their beliefs are supported by faith. Faith is not reliable source of truth since it can be invoked as the bedrock for any belief or truth claim.

You could just as well assert that racism is right and believe it on faith, as you could assert that racism is wrong and believe it on faith.

No, because then it would not be a faith position, it would be a belief based on the justification, rather than just faith.


On the subject of what can be known, it is entirely possible (in the sense of being logically conceivable) that there are true propositions that cannot be demonstrated to be true by any system of logic or theory of knowledge.

To say that MN is the best, or even the only way we have of discovering what is true or not true, is not to say that all truthes can be discovered by MN. It could be that MN is the only way of discovering what is true, but there are some truthes that cannot be discovered.

The wrongness of racism could be an undiscoverable truth, but faith would not solve the problem, as you would not be able to argue that it’s contradiction was false. That’s the problem with faith, it can have no justification, and as such it’s negation is equally valid if faith is taken to be good justification for anything.


Sounds like a category error. One can believe racism is wrong but doesn’t one reach into metaphysics to make such value judgments? Which universal metaphysical principles can we definitively determine? There some principles we accept almost universally. We say we ‘know’ these are ‘true’ but it seems to involve a different sort of reasoning and criteria that includes more subjectively determined axioms and weights. Which just boils down to: I’m not sure there is a “calculus of ethics”.

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I would say that we don’t use methodological naturalism to determine human worth. Instead, we use a subjective morality that is derived from empathy and reason. Channeling Hume, science can only tell us how things are. Science can not tell us how things ought to be.


That is consistent with MN. What you describe does not require accepting the existence of anything “supernatural.”

People here seem to be conflating MN and science. They are not the same thing.

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Before I make any more of my case, I’d be curious how @Jonathan_Burke and @pevaquark respond.

But it does require subjectivity which does not fit into MN.

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It’s not really my thing.

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Of course it does.