The Counsel of Trent

writing is thinking

Monday, July 09, 2007

Dougherty vs. Dembski

For those of you keeping track, I've lost a bit more ground against Bill Dembski's Design-Inference argument for Intelligent Design. He's won a few small battles recently. I'm still fighting though! We'll see.

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At Tuesday, July 10, 2007 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Vlastimil Vohánka said...

I'm not keeping the track. Where could I find the battles?

At Tuesday, July 10, 2007 3:32:00 PM, Blogger Trent_Dougherty said...

I've just been posting updates here and there, there's no major account book. :-)~

The bottom line is that I started out diametrically opposed to Dembski's form of argument and now I'm half convinced.

At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 4:00:00 AM, Blogger Vlastimil Vohánka said...

Thanks for your reply, Trent.

Apropos, isn't there a somewhat reverse trend in your assessment of Pascal's wager? Your 2005 post "Reason, Paradox, and Religion" is quite optimistic, but your 2006 post "Acts of Faith Are, Strictly Speaking, Irrational" and your last 2007 comment on that post are quite skeptical.

At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 2:45:00 PM, Blogger Trent_Dougherty said...

No, I think Pascal's wager is solid, I'm just a pluralist about "rationality". In the most important sense of rationality, being in some ways irrational is the most rational thing we can do.

Here's an analogy for justified belief: The attitude which best fits the evidnece at a time t is the justified attitude at t.

Yet suppose a genie says that if we have an unjustifie attitude at t, then forever there after we will know the truth of any proposition about which we wonder.

Clearly the epistemically best action is to have the unjustified belief at t (as if that were really possible).

So in some sense that unjustified belief is in fact justified by a higher rule (yet one still totally grounded in the nature of rational persuit).

At Thursday, July 12, 2007 5:33:00 AM, Blogger Vlastimil Vohánka said...

Very interesting!

1. But which rationality (or epistemic rule) rules (if any)? Look, my question is natural, given your talk about "higher" rules. Isn't there a hierarchy in your pluralism?

2. You wrote: "as if that were really possible". Do you really believe it is possible?

3. Would you believe that proposition advised by the genie if had some overwhelming evidence to the contrary? Would you say that believing such a proposition is epistemically good?

At Thursday, July 12, 2007 1:14:00 PM, Blogger Trent_Dougherty said...

I don't think it's ordinarily possible to believe something at will. However, there is such great epistemic good in this particular case of believing contrary to the evidnece (at t) that I would try hypnosis or something to try to get me to believe it. that would be, on balance, the epistemically best thing to do.

I hasten to add that I don't think Pascal's Wager is *anyting* like this scenario.


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