EDITOR’S NOTE I take this journal to be a remarkable step in the history and future of Forman Christian College University. This is the first student journal to be published in FCCU and the journal owes everything to the founder of the Department of Philosophy, Dr. Myron Miller. His dream brought him to Pakistan and he introduced Philosophy in FC College for the first time in the Spring of 2010. The very semester, Miller put down the foundation of the major and ever since Spring 2010 the minds of formanites have been thinking philosophically. Miller received the Best Teacher’s Award for June 2012 in FCCU. Miller imparted an uncommon common sense in this college through his exceptional textbook he wrote particularly for the PHIL101 classes, An Uncommon Common Sense. He taught more than 6 courses a semester in his attempt to get the major constructed and completed during his stay in Pakistan and I am a student of his first Philosophy class. Miller put his heart and soul in introducing Philosophy in Pakistan and in FC College; no one could have done it better than him. He left us assets like Dr. Ghazala Irfan and Dr. Mark Boone from Baylor University so our pursuit of Philosophy does not stop. I owe my degree in Philosophy, the PhD I plan to pursue in his homeland, my future as an Analytical Philosopher as I see it right now and a lot more to Professor Miller. And I am more than
certain that I am not the only one who has Miller to thank for Philosophy. Miller’s Dream is a student journal and all the papers in this journal have been reviewed by Dr. Myron Pat Miller. Of the many classes he taught here in Pakistan I have selected some good reads from each of them and compiled them into a journal. So all you need to know about this issue is that you will learn what Raven’s Paradox is and how muslim philosopher’s had done a great deal of work on epistemology. There is also an interesting paper on Aristotelian Ethics from the History of Philosophy: Ancient to Medieval class which nobody would want to miss. Miller’s dream will be published every semester and it will contain the best papers from Philosophy courses taught. There will be a call of papers a month before publishing so the students have a chance to turn in their work. The editor can then choose the best amongst them and compile another edition of Miller’s Dream. The articles will all be reviewed by a faculty member. I hope the journal reaches all Departments of FC College, Philosophy Departments all over Pakistan, Dr. Miller’s Homeland and the Libraries for students to have a look at the nicely composed articles. And I hope it brings that spirit of philosophy to Pakistan that Miller always talked about, after all that alone is Miller’s Dream. Editor.
CONTENTS Solution to the Ravenâ€™s Paradox
Aamna Saleem Introduction to Philosophy Friendship and Politics in the Nicomachean Ethics
Hassan Cheema History of Philosophy: Ancient to Medieval
Mechanistic Approach towards Understanding Behavior
Zain Shahid History of Philosophy: Modern to Contemporary
Francis Collins critique of Irreducible Complexity
Usama-ur-Rehman Philosophy of Science
Al-Ghazaliâ€™s Epistemology: Reason and Revelation
Abraham Akhter Murad Epistemology Is Belief in God Properly Basic? Hadeel Naeem Religious Epistemology
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 Introduction to Philosophy Aamna Saleem Solution to the Raven’s Paradox Hempel's Raven Paradox “is a paradox of confirmation and took its name from the example that Hempel used to illustrate it, namely all ravens are black”. “The term “confirmation” is used in epistemology and the philosophy of science whenever observational data and evidence “speak in favor of” or support scientific theories and everyday hypotheses”. Therefore, “the Ravens paradox centers on how a generalization can be confirmed.” In order to explain the paradox in simple words and establish the philosophical problem that it presents, I will take help from Falletta, who illustrates it by example in layman language in his book The Paradoxicon. While taking a group of benefactors on a tour through the new aviary they had just helped to build, a noted ornithologist commented, "And here we have two of the finest examples of ravens that I have ever seen. Notice the lustrous black plumage for which all ravens are famous." The ornithologist continued his lecture, commenting on the corvine feeding and nesting habits as well as on the birds' legendary role as harbingers of ill fortune. When the ornithologist had finished, a young man said, "Sir, excuse me, but did you say that 'All ravens are black'?" "I don't know if I said exactly that, but it's true. All ravens are black." "But, how do you know that - for certain, I mean?" asked the young man. "Well, I've seen a few hundred ravens in my day and every one of them has been black." "Yes, but a few hundred are not all. How many ravens are there, anyway?"
"I would guess several million. As for your question, many other scientists, and non-scientists for that matter, have observed ravens over thousands of years and so far the birds have all been black. At least, I don't know of a single instance in which someone has produced a non-black raven." "That's true, but it's still not all - just most." "True, but there is other evidence. For example, take all these lovely multicolored birds we have seen today - the parrots, toucans, the peacocks -" "They're lovely, but what do they have to do with your claim that all ravens are black?" "Don't you ornithologist.
"No, I don't see. Please explain." "Well, you accept the idea that every new instance of another black raven that is observed adds to the support of the generalization that all ravens are black?" "Yes, of course." "Well then, the statement 'All ravens are black' is logically equivalent to the statement 'All non-black things are nonravens.' This being so and because whatever confirms a statement also confirms any logically equivalent statement, it's clear that any non-black non-raven supports the generalization 'All ravens are black.' Hence, all these colorful, non-black non-ravens also support the generalization." "That's ridiculous," chided the young man. "In that case you might as well say that your blue jacket and gray pants also confirm the statement 'All ravens are black.' After all, they're also non-black non-ravens." "That's correct," said the ornithologist.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 "Now you're beginning to think like a true scientist." Who is reasoninga correctly, ornithologist or the young man?
Illustrated in the above example is the common sense belief that an instance of something confirms the claim of the existence of that something. This is known as “Nicod’s condition: a universal generalization is confirmed by its positive instances. That all ravens are black is confirmed by the observation of black ravens.” “The principle of equivalence [states that] if a piece of evidence confirms a hypothesis, it also confirms its logically equivalent hypotheses [and] ... the principle of relevant empirical investigation [states that] hypotheses are confirmed by investigating empirically what they assert.” The logically equivalent hypothesis of all ravens are black is all non black things are non ravens. An instance of a non black non raven thing is a brown tree trunk. Therefore, by the “principle of equivalence”, an instance of brown tree trunks must prove its logically equivalent hypothesis, hence it proves that all ravens are black. In short, common sense tells us that the occurrence or evidence of something confirms its existence. Common sense also tells us that the existence of something completely different from the first something cannot confirm the first something’s existence. These are two common sense beliefs that contradict each other and cannot be held at the same time. In order to understand Nelson Goodman’s solution to the Raven Paradox, we need to establish what “grue” is. The following passage from Goodman’s book Fact, Fiction and Forecast provides an explanation: Now let me introduce another predicate less familiar than “green”. It is the predicate “grue” and it applies to all
things examined before t just in case they are green but to other things just in case they are blue. Then at time t we have, for each evidence statement asserting that a given emerald is green, a parallel evidence statement asserting that that emerald is grue. And the statements that emerald A is grue, that emerald B is grue, and so on, will each confirm the general hypothesis that all emeralds are grue. Thus according to our definition, the prediction that all emeralds subsequently examined will be green and the prediction that all will be grue are alike confirmed by evidence statements describing the same observations. But if an emerald subsequently examined is grue, it is blue and hence not green. Thus although we are well aware which of the two incompatible predictions is genuinely confirmed, they are equally well confirmed according to our present definition. Moreover, it is clear that if we simply choose an appropriate predicate, then on the basis of these same observations we shall have equal confirmation, by our definition, for any prediction whatever about other emeralds—or indeed about anything else. . . . We are left . . . with the intolerable result that anything confirms anything. According to Goodman, “the predicate ‘is grue’ is not projectable, that is, it cannot be legitimately applied (projected) to hitherto unexamined emeralds.” “A projectable predicate is one that is true of all and only the things of a kind.” Therefore, what Goodman means by grue is that object A has property 1 before 2025 and object A does not have property 1 after 2025. And hence, grue cannot be projectable because it refers to two difference properties or kinds Branden Fitelson (4 - 21) argues the grue problem from Hempel’s perspective. Suppose that you have two hypotheses; the first that all emeralds are green and the second that all emeralds are grue. If there
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 is an object, suppose Ø, then there are three possibilities; a) Ø is an emerald and Ø is green, b) Ø is an emerald and Ø is grue, c) Ø is an emerald and is both green and grue. According to Hempel, a) confirms the first hypothesis and b) confirms the second hypothesis. It should be noted that b) cannot confirm the first hypothesis and a) cannot confirm the second hypothesis, however, c) can confirm both the first and second hypotheses. This implies that if anything which is logically equivalent to c) will also confirm the hypotheses. Therefore, c) confirms both the first and second hypotheses equally. Fitelson calls the logically equivalent of c) confirming the hypotheses argument Goodman’s qualitative argument and the c) equally confirming both hypotheses argument Goodman’s quantitative argument. Goodman’s third argument against Hempel’s theory of confirmation is that his qualitative argument implies that anything confirms anything. In short, what Goodman is saying is that in Hempel’s example, a brown tree trunk supports the claim that “all nonravens are non-black” but it also supports numerous other claims, such as all nonravens are non-birds, etc. Therefore, the statements that “All ravens are Black” and “All Non Ravens are Non Black” are logically inequivalent.
Clark, Michael. “Paradoxes from A to Z.” 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2007. Hempel, Carl G. “Philosophy of natural science.” Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966. Psillos, Stathis. “Carl Hempel. Philosophy of Science A-Z.” Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press Ltd., 2007.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 History of Medieval
Hassan Cheema Friendship and Politics Nicomachean Ethics
The purpose of this short paper is to outline Aristotle’s treatment of friendship in books VIII and IX of the Nicomachean Ethics and show how such a conception of philia serves as a political force. I subscribe to the view that it is useful to read Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics as a coherent, programmatic inquiry; that there is a general argument to the Ethics and that the various inquiries and insights scattered throughout the book together form a whole. The treatment of friendship too, has to be seen within this framework; hence for the first half of the paper I will attempt to describe this framework in outline, beginning with the telos or purpose of Aristotle’s inquiry into ethics, his general argument in the Nicomachean Ethics and an overview of the analysis of virtue and justice. Now, friendship and justice are described in VIII.9 (1159b, 1160a) as coextensive with, and parallel to, each other; the second half of the paper attempts to investigate how far one may extend this parallelism, and in what way the relationship of justice to friendship can be a force for justice in the wider sphere of politics. In the discussion of method in I.3, the precision required of any theoretical explanation is linked to the subject matter of an inquiry. Now, the Ethics is concerned primarily with action. It is indeed for the sake of action that it enquires into the nature of the good; “…the end aimed at is not knowledge but action” (1.3). It is assumed that any action is directed towards an end (telos) or a good. Since ethics is concerned with human action, Aristotle’s inquiry focuses on identification of the telos for human beings, with the purpose of attaining such
an end. Aristotle assumes (I.2) that attaining such an end for a community is preferable to attaining it for individuals; and he explicitly states (I.1, 2) that this places the Nicomachean Ethics within the field of political science, since politics is identified as the science of attaining the good for man. Right, but this needs to be shown; what is his language that indicates that it is political organization; that is, the rules governing social relationships that is at the heart of the moral aim and which judges the moral worth of action? Aristotle identifies the Good of human life with the goals of human beings; the Nicomachean Ethics begins with the words: “Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and pursuit is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim.” Such a good - Aristotle agrees here with conventional wisdom on the subject; actually, he does more than this, for in Book X he actually provides an argument to support the conclusion that the highest aim of all action is happiness- seems to be happiness (eudaimonia). Defining happiness, however, is problematic. Aristotle, like Plato, identifies happiness with the life of virtue, and virtue with knowledge. Unlike Plato however, Aristotle stresses the importance of particular actions to virtue; his discussion of the forms (1.6) dismisses the notion that the good can lie outside of particular human activities. Why are you bringing Plato into the discussion here and on what grounds? You are unnecessarily widening your discussion since now you need to document your claims that Plato and Aristotle have this agreement. The notions of the good, function and virtue are intimately related here. Pakaluk (Pakaluk 6) posits the ‘Interdefinability of Goodness, Function and Virtue’ as a basic assumption of the Ethics: “A good thing of a certain kind is that which has the virtues
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 which enable it to carry out its function well.” Now, Aristotle admits that for each class of things (human beings, kitchen utensils, and so on) using the same words (the good, function, virtue) may well be only a matter of convention; what is important however, for Aristotle and certainly for the purposes of this paper, is the account of how virtue is produced in human life. Virtue is defined as being of two kinds: intellectual and moral. Such a classification arises out of Aristotle’s psychology: the soul being seen as bipartite with a rational and an irrational part; the irrational part is further divided into the vegetative and the appetitive parts (1.13). Moral Virtue arises out of the appetitive, or desiring, part which somehow seems to “share in”, or at least follow, a rational principle. This is why choice is a big issue in the Nicomachean Ethics’ treatment of moral virtue; the long discussion of volition and choice in book III, establishes choice as a necessary condition of virtue. Aristotle defines Virtue (2.6) as “a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. a mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.” And further: “the virtue of a man also will be the state of character which makes a man good and which makes him do his work well.” Such a state of character arises out of habit (ethos): one becomes virtuous by the exercise of virtue in action, for instance, one becomes brave through brave actions, temperate by the act of abstaining and so on; by the same principle, one becomes a vicious man by the deliberate, voluntary exercise of vice. The emphasis of ethics or the ethical life is shifted here from the ideal of Plato’s thought to actual, concrete actions. The idea is common sense; yet it is powerful because of its relevance to actual living.
Again, leave Plato out of this or quote from the Republic. Virtue has been described as a certain state of character and its activity; virtue in this sense may be attained by an individual without necessarily affecting the community that he is a part of. But such a limited virtue was never the end of Aristotle’s inquiry; we still need to look at how it relates to politics. The exercise of virtue in relation to one’s neighbor is defined (V.1, 1129b, 1130a) as justice. There is a dual sense to justice here: there is (1) universal justice, and (2) particular justice. (This needs documentation from the Nicomachean Ethics.) Universal justice describes the just as lawful – in Aristotle’s wide sense of law: it is the exercise of all the virtues in communal life and may be understood as the chief, or ruling, virtue. Particular justice describes the just as the fair and equal, and is the observance of what is fair and equal in any given human relationship. This is further divided into distributive –which is the more obviously political- and rectificatory justice – which is more concerned with legal judgments. This would have been a good place to have ended your discussion, since you need not have used any of the above to explain the concept of “friendship” for Aristotle. At the very least all you needed was his justification of happiness, the definition and its justification for virtue and then focus those results on what it means to Aristotle to be a friend. Now, as has already been stated, justice and friendship are coextensive (1159b, 1160a); quite obviously, first, because the very basis of a friendship is the exercise of particular justice between the persons concerned. Aristotle analyses friendship, as he does much else, by recourse to its ends: these can be one or more of three: one may have a friend for the sake of (1) utility, (2) pleasure and (3) the good. In friendships of utility and pleasure,
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 friendship is basically the exercise of particular justice, and particularly distributive justice, consisting in observing fairness and equality in distributing benefits and pleasures to each other. The third, and best kind of friendship, ‘the perfect friendship of the good qua good’ (1156b) is what concerns the present inquiry the most. Such a friendship involves both utility and pleasure (VIII.6) but its end is the mutual recognition between the persons concerned of each other’s goodness, and the friend is loved in this last case by virtue of his goodness and hence for himself. In so far as it involves utility and pleasure, there will obviously be particular justice in such a friendship. In so far as its object is the mutual good of the friends, it also comprehends universal justice in miniature. Friendship is ultimately based on self-love (IX.4); seeking the good for a friend is ultimately a way of comprehending, and exercising the good for oneself. The friend becomes a sort of mirror for oneself, and so friends of this third kind help each other on the path to virtue, in comprehending and following what is lawful and appropriate for each, and so in coming to comprehend justice in wider communities.
friends, and he needs them for the sake of action. Friends give one an excuse to create justice in political communities. Love gives one the strength to create a world that is worthy of her objects. If love and friendship involve justice, which has been defined as the fair and the equal, what action, or benefits, or service is fair enough an exchange for the good conferred by a friend, simply by virtue of the fact that she is good enough in herself to be worthy of one’s love? Love and friendship, to conclude, are eminently political activities.
Mckeon, Richard. “The Basic Works of Aristotle.” New York: Random House, 1941. Pakaluk, Michael. “Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: an Introduction.” New York: Cambridge, 2005. Rackham, H. “The Nicomachean Ethics.” London: W. Heinemann, 1934.
Since friendship and justice are parallels, justice in any form of community would involve friendship in some sense, whether as utility, pleasure or the desire for the other’s good. Constitutions and political systems too can be interpreted in this light (VIII.10, 11); Aristotle draws analogues between the relationships of the ruler and ruled in different kinds of constitutions and friendships. It is this that underlies his privileging of monarchy as the best form of government since the relationship there most closely resembles the friendship of father to son, where the desire for the good of the other stems from one’s belief in one’s own goodness. In conclusion, the happiest, which is to say the most virtuous man, too needs
Millerâ€™s Dream â€“ Fall 2012 History of Philosophy: Contemporary
Zain Shahid Mechanistic Approach Understanding Behavior
B. F. Skinner argues that human behavior is caused much like any other event that occurs in our Experience. What leads him to argue for this view is his view on science, as Skinner believes that the human is a collection of bio chemical parts and is an organism that has evolved as dictated by the principles of evolution. The fittest survivors amongst the human race passed their genetic traits on to their offspring, meaning that he holds with the popular beliefs that current biologists hold. He also believes that there are mechanistic laws that govern each field of science, and holding these beliefs binds human beings to the laws of nature, which are mechanistic for Skinner. The philosophical problem that Skinner sees and attempts to solve is the problem of human freedom, because it would be logically contradictory to believe the fact that humans are biochemical organisms that are governed by the laws of physics. Saying that humans act without anything but their intentions, causing their behavior to be the foundation for Skinnerâ€™s argument, says that the universe operates on mechanistic laws and the fact that humans are bound by these laws makes it very clear that behavior must be mechanistic. But now that human freedom has been eliminated, why do humans feel free, why do humans blame other people for their actions, and most importantly, why does the bag of chemicals that is a human organism feel conscious? Why are we different from a table or chair? These are questions that any behaviorist would have to answer. Skinner argues human behavior can be controlled by operant conditioning.
He says that humans act to reduce harmful events and to maximize pleasurable events; for example if a person puts his hand on a hot stove and burns his hand in the process he will avoid putting his hand on a hot stove the next time. Similarly if a person is praised for something they do and they enjoy the praise they will attempt to do that thing again until the results of doing so are unfavorable. Skinner argues that humans have evolved to follow such a behavioral pattern because this pattern of behavior is useful for the survival of the species the humans, who survive and have offspring and then pass on these behavioral tendencies to their offspring. Skinner also argues that there are acts that are considered involuntary, like sneezing, or some kinds of reflexes. These acts are not considered to be behaviors and hence when a person goes through them he is not given credit for those acts. But the question arises as to why do we blame a person for other actions that seem to be voluntary, what is the distinction? Skinner argues that the reason we blame people for wrong acts and praise them for their good acts is not because they are free to do what they want, it is because our praise or discouragement will cause the person to behave in a way that is beneficial to the individual who is praising the act, meaning that our tendency to blame a person for his her behavior and his response are evolutionary adaptations that allow for survival of the people in question. If the universe works according to the laws of physics that are mechanistic it would be logically impossible for every event to not be determined, but Skinner wants to keep the advancements that science has made and hence the clear conclusion is that everything is determined by some physical factors and not by some causeless intent in the case of behavior. For Skinner, the physical world is the true world and that is all the reality there
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 is. Skinner goes on to argue that behavior is a physical phenomenon that takes place because of nerve cells fairing nerve signals towards parts of the body, which means that all the actions that a person performs happen because of nerve impulses. These impulses cause the person to act; hence the person is not responsible, as the brain generates impulses according to the biochemical conditions of the body in order to maintain homeostasis.
and hence saying that is just using the behavior to make up a cause for it, though some would argue that drinking water and being thirsty are not the same thing because either one of these could be true without the other one being true. But then Skinner would argue that then there is no transition from the thirst to the drinking of water, or if there is it cannot be confirmed since the thirst cannot be empirically verified by any means.
Skinner agrees with Popper’s idea of falsification, that is, a theory must have ways of being falsified if it is to be true; the theory must also make predictions that can be confirmed empirically. Skinner also argues that a theory must be confirmed by empirical means so something that is not observable cannot be confirmed, and hence a theory must not be based on something that cannot be confirmed. This is why for Skinner, using mental explanations for explaining behavior is an unscientific approach towards doing so. 4 Skinner says "any mental event which is unconscious is necessarily inferential, and the explanation [which makes use of it] is therefore not based upon independent observations of a valid cause." For example if a person says that he ate because he was hungry, Skinner believes that if the hunger is an inner cause, observing it would be impossible and hence we could not confirm our theory because hunger cannot be empirically identified.
Skinner also uses what is called the middle link argument, that is, if a mentalistic event, let’s say b, does cause behavior c, it is the external stimuli that is causing b. Let’s call the external stimuli a now. Skinner argues that in an explanation for behavior b is irrelevant, so it would be better to say that a causes c instead of saying that a causes b which causes c, because that would be a better way of explaining the behavior. Here, however, I believe that Skinner makes an error, that is, if this is true then the responses will vary, and besides just the stimuli, there is also the internal condition that is the genetic makeup and the biochemical makeup of the individual, in which case the stimuli will be an incomplete explanation of the behavior. The genius of Skinner, however, is in finding the relationship between the stimuli and the responses by providing the theory of operant conditioning.
Mental accounts do not explain anything, according to Skinner. They are empty and hence do not state anything of importance, for example one is confused because his mind is failing, one is disorganized because his ideas are confused. Skinner argues that a mentalistic explanation would also be redundant, that is, that the explanation is just a restating of the behavior; for example he drinks because he is thirsty means the same thing,
Skinner also argues that providing a mental explanation to behavior is like providing a homunculus sitting in a person’s head as an explanation for the behavior of the person. The important question after the homunculus has been introduced is, what causes the homunculus to cause the behavior; the answer to which will either lead us into an infinite regress and an infinite number of homunculi or will lead us into demining the function of the homunculus, which is to explain behavior. The only way to explain behavior for Skinner is to have a stimulus
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 and a response to that stimulus by the organism. The response is determined by the homeostatic control system of the organism, which includes operant conditioning as a means of selecting behavior for an organism. As for the question of how it is possible for an organism to be a collection of biochemical’s and be conscious at the same time; Skinner argues that the consciousness is a result of the homeostatic process and is an evolutionary adaptation that has allowed for the survival of many organisms, and that is why we are conscious, according to Skinner. Skinner also argues that everything is determined, but Skinner’s aim for establishing behaviorism was to develop a world where there would be fewer problems. A world where suitable behavior could be reinforced to make it popular, and this is where Skinner differs from a fatalist and is more like the stoics, and goes on to argue that the world will be a better place if the misconception of freedom is removed and a better shaping of behavior can be made possible.
Skinner, B. F. “About behaviorism.” New York: Knopf; Random House, 1974. Skinner, B. F. “Beyond Freedom and Dignity.” New York: Bantam Vintage, 1972.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 Philosophy of Science Usama-ur-Rehman Francis Collins critique of Irreducible Complexity The working hypothesis of contemporary biologists, anthropologists, geologists, and other life scientists, is that a mechanical method exists, which is responsible for all the visible diversity of life. This mechanical method is generally known as evolution or Darwinism. The main driving force of this evolution is the basic necessity of life to survive. According to evolution, the entire complex organisms we see today are a result of slight modifications in the primitive organisms over a really long period of time. This applies that these primitive organisms were our ancestors and over the long period of billion years, many stable and slight modifications were retained by the organisms through natural selection, and thus gave rise to present day’s complex beings. The agent of these slight modifications could be mutation, and many more, which are dependent upon probability and chance. The problem and contradiction with this belief is the presence of many complex organelles which lie in those primitive organisms whose functions are way complex and thus are not reduced from anyone else. This raises a contradiction to evolution, as evolution always moves from simple to more complex, it is contradictory to the basic laws of evolution to find such irreducible complex substances. Their presence applies a kind of purpose in creation, which is opposite to the very basic idea of mechanistic evolution, which applies that change or modification occurs by chance. Michael Behe put forth the concept of irreducible complexity in his book Darwin’s black box. Behe Says: By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the
basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional. Michael Behe uses the idea of irreducible complexity to advocate intelligent design. Intelligent design is the teleological explanation of evolution, as it applies purposeful existence of the diverse living form. According to Intelligent design, life is so complicated that it must be the work of an intelligent designer and couldn’t be the result of a mechanism such as evolution which is completely based on probability and chance. Now a solution is required which either proves that intelligent design is the right explanation of the observable complex life, or proves that mechanistic evolution is capable of explaining those irreducible complex substances pointed out by the advocates of Intelligent Design’s Advocates. Francis Collins, a pioneer of Biologos, gives a resolution between the conflict of Mechanistic evolution and intelligent design (irreducible complexity). Collins considers intelligent design a wrong explanation and he rejects this by pointing out the issues in the idea of irreducible complex substances. Collins also doesn’t accept the complete mechanical explanation of evolution, supported by Dawkins, but supports and advocates the idea of Theistic evolution. For Collins, Intelligent Design basically says that Evolution promotes an atheistic worldview and is faulty because it can’t explain the existence of Irreducible
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 complex substances. Intelligent Design’s advocates apply that these irreducible complex substances can’t exist without purposeful intervention of an intelligent designer. Collins refutes Intelligent Design and gives two fundamental reasons for it. He first argues that Intelligent Design fails in a fundamental way to be considered a scientific theory. It applies an explanation which could not be scientifically confirmed unless we developed a time machine. Collins says “Core ID theory, as outlined by Johnson, also suffers by providing no mechanism by which the postulated supernatural interventions would give rise to complexity.” He disproves Behe’s explanation of the mechanism of supernatural intervention. According to Behe, primitive organisms contained “preloaded” genes, which were the cause of irreducible complex molecules. These preloaded genes were sleeping first and then were awakened at an appropriate time (a hundred million years later) to give rise to observable complex molecules. Collins disagrees with this explanation and says that no primitive organism can be found today that contains such genetic information for future use. Furthermore, our knowledge of the mutational rate of genes that are not being utilized suggests that survival of such store houses of information for that long a period is highly improbable. The second and most significant reason of Intelligent Design unreliability and confirmation of Darwinism, as pointed out by Collins, is that most molecules which were considered irreducible complex by the advocates of Intelligent Design are now turning out to be assembled by evolution in a gradual step by step process. Collins uses examples of three structures which were once considered irreducible complex but now can be adequately explained by evolution.
The first example used by Collins is the Human Blood Cascade. This system seems to have evolved from low pressure and low hemodynamic system to a complicated system necessary for humans and other mammals. The mechanical evolutionary explanation of this evolved complexity can be understood through the process of gene duplication. It is observed that most components of clotting cascade are related to one another at the level of amino acid sequence. This similarity applies ancient gene duplication which allowed the new copy which gradually evolved through natural selection into present complicated system. Furthermore, we have discovered some intermediate steps (but not all and may never will be able to do so as these intermediate steps may be lost to the history) in the clotting cascade evolution predicted by Darwinism. The second example given by Collins is the Human Eye, which is again used by Intelligent Design advocates as an irreducible complex structure. He argues that even simpler organisms have light sensitivity. Flatworms have simple pigmented pit containing light sensitive cells which also provide some directionality for perceiving incoming photons. The chambered nautilus shows more evolutionary advance light sensitive cells from flatworm because of the conversion of pit into a cavity with a pinhole to admit light. This conversion considerably improves the resolution of the apparatus by just a subtle change in the geometry of surrounding tissues. Furthermore addition of a jellylike substance overlying the primitive light sensitive cells in other organisms enables some focusing of light. It shows us that a modern mammalian eye could be evolved. Collins also points out that an eye, on close inspection, is not completely ideal. Rods and cones that sense light are at the bottom layer of the retina and light has to pass through nerves and vessels to reach them. This imperfection in human form
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 declines the existence of planning of human structure.
The third example given by Collins is a Bacterial Flagellum. Bacterial Flagellum is considered one of the best examples of irreducible complex structures by Intelligent Design. Collins starts by explaining that flagellum’s irreducible complexity depends upon the presumption that individual subunits of flagellum don’t have any prior role or function of any sort thus motor can’t have been assembled through step by step recruiting of components by natural selection. Collins points out the work of K. R. Miller “The flagellum unspun”, which provides evolutionary explanation to bacterial flagellum. It is observed through comparison of protein sequence from multiple bacteria that various components of flagellum are related to an entirely different apparatus used by certain bacteria to inject toxins into others. This bacterial offensive weapon, also known as “type III secretory apparatus” provides a clear survival of the fittest advantage to the organisms which possess it. It is presumable that the elements of this structure were duplicated hundred million years ago and then recruited for new use, by combining with other proteins which were performing the simpler function, the motor was thus generated. Collins agrees that explaining the type III secretory apparatus doesn’t mean that Flagellum puzzle is solved but this provides a natural explanation for flagellum’s complexity, rather than placing the responsibility of this on some supernatural phenomenon. Thus, for Collins, Intelligent Design is not the right explanation for the diversity of life, as it depends on supernatural intervention to fill the holes where our scientific knowledge hasn’t done so to date, and thus believes that with further advance in scientific knowledge those gaps will be filled through natural explanation. Collins agrees with the mechanistic
explanation based upon chance and probability. In addition to this Collins argues for the need to supplement a descriptive explanation for the existence of the forms of life with a position called Theistic Evolution. Theistic evolution, Collins says, involves the following: • “When life arose, the process of evolution and natural selection permitted the development of biological diversity and complexity over very long time.” • Once evolution got under way, no special supernatural intervention was required. • “Humans are part of this process sharing common ancestors with great apes.” Furthermore, he holds that evolution is the process which God used for the purposeful creation of humans. In Short, Francis Collins explains evolution as a complete mechanical process, rather a process where purposeful supernatural intervention was done to create what is now an observable, complex and diverse set of life forms.
Behe, Michael J. “Darwin's Black Box: the Biochemical Challenge to Evolution.” New York: Free Press, 1996. Collins, Francis S. “The language of God: a scientist presents evidence for belief.” New York: Free Press, 2006. Dawkins, Richard. “The selfish gene.” New ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 Epistemology Abraham Akhter Murad Al-Ghazali’s Epistemology: Reason and Revelation Al-Ghazali in his autobiographical book, Al-Munqidh min al-Dalal (Deliverance from error) writes: “What I seek is knowledge of the true meaning of things. Of necessity, therefore, I must inquire into just what the true meaning of knowledge is.” This is the starting of AlGhazali’s journey to asserting an epistemology for himself. In al-Munqidh, Al-Ghazali informs us of how in the prime of his life he was inflicted with a mysterious malady of the soul, which lasted for nearly two months during which time he was a skeptic in fact, but not in utterance and doctrine. He was a student in his early twenties at the Nizamiyyah College in Naishapur when he suffered from this disease of skepticism. Al-Ghazali said to himself that the only way he could get sure and certain knowledge of anything was if that knowledge was void of any doubt. Knowledge in which there would neither be a possibility of error or deception nor even a supposition of such a possibility. 4 Thus, in the Munqidh, Al-Ghazali tells us how, after reflecting upon the problem of belief, he sought to sift out these beliefs, to discern those that are true from those that are false.5 A lot of his intellectual efforts were indeed devoted to this task. Now the only way Al-Ghazali could affirm a case of certain knowledge with anything was if he found no way of doubting its certainty. “For this He scrutinized all of his thought processes and found himself devoid of any knowledge answering the previous description except in the case of sense data and the self-evident truths.”
His next step then is the examination of his reliance on knowledge of sense-data and self-evident primary truths. This however ends in rejection of both of these since on taking a closer look, Al-Ghazali finds problems with both of them. For the sense data knowledge, AlGhazali points out: “The strongest of the senses is the sense of sight. Now this looks at a shadow and sees it standing still and motionless and judges that motion must be denied. Then, due to experience and observation an hour later, it knows that the shadow is moving, and imperceptibly that it was never completely at rest.” “In the case of this and of similar instances of sense-data the sense-judge makes its judgments, but the reason-judge refutes it and repeatedly gives it the lie in an inconvertible fashion.” The outcome of the effort, in which reason appeared as judge over the claims of the senses to certitude, was that his reliance on sense-data proved no longer tenable. The charge of falsity leveled by reason against sense-perceptions could not be rebutted by the senses. With his reliance on sense-data shattered, Al-Ghazali moved to the category of primary truths and reasoned over their validity. However, a refuge in the rational data too was not safe from elements of doubt. This time, doubt crept in through an objection, made on behalf of sense-data, against the claims of reason to certitude. The sense-data had asserted something as true but the reason judge had come along and pointed out the lie in it. AlGhazali stretches this thought and wonders of a possibility of a system of judgment higher than the reasoning of man. He says that it could very well happen that this higher judgment would render the reason judge as false or
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 unhelpful. Just as the reason judge had superseded the sense-data, this other judge could supersede the reason judge as well. He says that, “the mere fact of the nonappearance of that further perception does not prove the impossibility of its existence.” This inner debate within the soul of AlGhazali took a turn for the worse when a suggestion of the possibility of another kind of perception beyond reason was reinforced by various kinds of evidences and argumentation. First, an appeal was made to reason to exercise the principle of analogy to the phenomena of dreaming. Through this principle, reason would have realized “that the relation of this suggested supra-rational state to our waking state, when the senses and reason are fully functional, is like the relation of the latter to our dreaming state.”11 If our waking state judges our imaginings and beliefs in the dreaming state to be groundless, the supra-rational state likewise judges our rational beliefs. Osman Bakr says that the purpose of writing the Munqidh was to impress the view to the rationalists that Islamic epistemology affirms supra-rational perceptions as the real key to knowledge.12 This is why Al-Ghazali says: “Therefore, whoever thinks that the unveiling of truth depends on precisely formulated proofs has indeed straitened the broad mercy of God.” Next to confront reason in of the possibility of a supra-rational state was the presence of a group of people called the Sufis, who claimed that they had actually experienced that state. Al-Ghazali points out that “They alleged that during their experience of these supra rational states, they saw phenomena which are not in accord with the normal data of reason”. Finally, the last piece of evidence brought to the attention of reason is the
saying of prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H): Men are asleep: then after they die they awake, and the Quranic verse, “Thou was heedless of this; Now have We removed thy veil, and sharp is thy sight this day.” Both the Hadith and the Quranic verse quoted refer to man’s state after death with the reason being written that this may be the state in question. All these objections to the claim of reason to have the final say to truth could not be refuted satisfactorily by reason. “The mysterious malady of al-Ghazali's soul, which lasted for nearly two months, is none other than this inner tussle or tension between its rational faculty and another faculty which mounts an appeal to the former, through the senses, to accept its existence and the possibility of those experiences that have been associated with its various powers,” such as those claimed by the Sufis17. Osman Bakr says that “this other faculty, which is supra- rational and supra-logical, is the intuitive faculty which, at this particular stage of alGhazali's intellectual life, had not yet developed beyond the mere ability to theorize and acknowledge the possibility of supra- rational experiences.” Later, during a period of intense spiritual life, he claimed to have been invested with higher powers of the faculty, which disclosed to him innumerable mysteries of the spiritual world. These powers Al-Ghazali termed as direct vision and fruitional experience. Thus, he was cured of this sickness, not through rational arguments or logical proofs but through the effect of a light which God cast into his breast, his intellectual equilibrium was restored, and he once again accepted the reliability of rational data.19 However, in this “newfound intellectual equilibrium, reason no longer occupied the dominant position it used to have.”20 In al-Ghazali's own words, that light which God cast into his breast is the key to most knowledge.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 “His criticism of all modes of knowing that were then within his practical reach was motivated by a real theoretical awareness of the possibility of another mode of knowing, which the Sufis claim as theirs.” In the case of Al-Ghazali, this possibility must have agitated his mind right from the time it was first impressed upon him through his direct personal encounter with the way of the Sufis. Osman Bakr says that for Al-Ghazali the distinction between the sure and certain faith which he always had and that certainty which he was ever eager to seek was founded in the Islamic gnosis' idea of certainty. There are degrees of certainty: science of certainty, vision of certainty and truth of certainty. “These have been respectively compared to hearing about the description of fire, seeing fire and being consumed by fire.” At the time of his epistemological crisis, he was only certain of this certitude in the sense of the science of certainty. After the crisis, as a result of “the light of intellectual intuition which he received from Heaven, that certainty was elevated to the level of vision of certainty.” This new found certainty was not the end of AlGhazali's intellectual and spiritual quest. He had a longing for the mystical experience of the Sufis. He had indulged in some of their spiritual practices but without success in terms of a fruitional experience. This must have been a lingering source of inner discontent in him. He was to realize later his major fault: he was too engrossed in worldly desires and ambitions such as fame and fortune. Al-Ghazzali mentions in the Munqidh that immediately after his first crisis was over, he proceeded to study with greater thoroughness the views and methods of the
various seekers of the Truth. He divided the seekers into four groups. “These were the mutakallimun (theologians) who allege that they are men of independent judgment and reasoning; the batinites who claim to be the unique possessors of al-ta`lim (authoritative instruction) and the privileged recipients of knowledge acquired from the Infallible Imam; the philosophers who maintain that they are the men of logic and apodeictic demonstration; and finally the Sufis who claim to be the familiars of the Divine Presence and the men of mystic vision and illumination.” There is no doubt that Al-Ghazali had undertaken this comparative study of all the classes of seekers of the Truth with the view of exhausting all the possibilities and opportunities that were open to him in the pursuit of the highest level of certainty, although by then one could already detect in him a special inclination and sympathy toward Sufism. At the end of this thorough study, he came to the conclusion that the Sufis were masters of states and not purveyors of words. He also came to realize that there was a great difference between theoretical knowledge and realized knowledge. To illustrate the difference, he said: “There is a great difference between our knowing the definitions, causes, and conditions of health and satiety and our being healthy and sated, between our knowing the definition of drunkenness and our being drunk, and between our knowing the true nature and conditions of asceticism and our actually practicing asceticism.” Certitude derived from realized knowledge is truth. This knowledge is free from error and doubt because it is not based on conjecture or mental concepts, but it resides in the heart and thus involves the whole of man's being. Al-Ghazali invites everyone into the way of true knowledge, which for him can
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 be found in the fruitional experience. He says that those who reject such possibilities as outlandish and improbable simply have not attained this stage of knowledge themselves and thus assert that it does not exist. He illustrates this by the example of a man who was born blind and lives in a world without meaning given to colors. He also says that if you were to describe dreaming to a person who has never dreamed in his sleep in his entire life, this person would reject this occurrence. Al-Ghazali took it on himself to teach the way of true knowledge, a decision which he epitomized in returning to his practice of teaching which he had left for numerous years. He worked to lay bare the deceptions of the teachings, which so heavily influenced the people of his time. He gives everyone, an open invitation to attaining knowledge through the fruitional experiences as done by the Sufis.
McCarthy, Richard Joseph. “AlGhaz l 's Path to Sufism and his Deliverance from Error.” Louisville. KY: Fons Vitae, 2000.
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 Religious Epistemology
Maybe a line should be drawn to separate beliefs that just come to people and beliefs that should be believed in. This way, we will be able to deny both these refutations by Plantinga. Beliefs that have no reason and no evidence should not be believed in. They will qualify as beliefs because we either do not have control over them or we are intellectually retarded to hold these beliefs. Either way they should not be believed in. And if someone believes in God then they need evidence or it has to be properly basic.
Is Belief in God Properly Basic? A formal proof of validity can be constructed for Plantinga’s main argument but the argument lacks soundness. He puts his article in the form of a perfect trail; he refutes the evidentialist viewpoints in the beginning and through that he constructs his argument. The evidentialist critics hold that belief in God cannot be rationally accepted because sufficient evidence is not present to hold that inferred belief. From this we know that an inferred belief is one that is supported by evidence, proposition or some belief. This evidence must be rooted in a properly basic belief which is a belief that needs no proof or belief for its validity. The first refutation Plantinga gives is beliefs are not always in our control. Therefore, the evidentialist claim to abandon a belief that has no supporting evidence as a duty is wrong. Secondly, he says people can hold beliefs for no reason at all or just because nobody else holds them in which case a person holding such a belief is intellectually retarded and he should be treated with sympathy. Now there can be people who claim to hold properly basic beliefs that are inconsistent with beliefs in God. How would Plantinga deal with them? He gives an argument against this refutation at the end of his article where he speaks of a Great Pumpkin which is a kind of belief one can hold for no reason at all. In response to this problem Plantinga suggests that we use induction and derive a criterion for proper basicality. A criterion is a method that probably consists of some sort of data or evidence. And if we use evidence or an evidence-like statement to derive a properly basic statement, would it be properly basic
Thirdly, he says an evidentialist’s or classical foundationalist’s definition of a properly basic belief is: (1) A proposition P is properly basic for a person S if and only if P is selfevident, incorrigible (modern foundationalism) or evident to the senses (ancient foundationlism). Now, (1) is either an inferred belief or a properly basic belief. Rather, what can be self-evident? Anything evident to one person is different from what is evident to another. It is not incorrigible because incorrigible is a statement that one cannot mistakenly believe or disbelieve. Also, my senses do not give me any evidence for this statement being true. Hence, this statement is not properly basic. If (1) is inferred basic it needs a belief or proof to support it. However, I cannot think of any evidence that could support a belief like this one. If not inferred basic or properly basic, then what is this statement? The argument Plantinga gives against this foundationalist criterion for properly basic belief is that the two types of foundationalism hold conflicting views. He says that in a condition C, S is justified in taking P as properly basic. According to Plantinga, perceptual
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 beliefs, memory-based beliefs and beliefs based on one’s mental state can be properly basic. They have no evidence but they have a condition and they are not groundless. The experience justifies one in holding this belief and that this is the ground of the belief. He gives some examples: (2) I see a tree. (3) I had breakfast today. (4) That person is angry. The first two seem fine but don’t you need proof to believe that a person is angry? Like a person is shouting and slamming the door, so he must be angry. Plantinga takes his viewpoint, jumbles it with what Calvin thinks and says some beliefs are in us. They come to us through conditions but they are as basic as (2), (3) and (4) because they have a condition and are justified on the ground of the belief itself. He thinks the following statements are properly basic too and are parallel to (2), (3) and (4). (5) God is speaking to me. (6) God created all this. (7) God disapproves of what I have done. (8) God forgives me. (9) God is to be thanked and praised. To make them look parallel to (2), (3) and (4) they should be put in this way because (2) states that I am aware of a tree and I can tell it apart because I know its attributes. (10) I am aware of God speaking to me. (11) I am aware of God creating this flower. (12) I am aware of God disapproving of what I have done.
(13) I am aware of God forgiving me. (14) I am aware that I should thank and praise God. The propositions (10) to (13) tell us about God’s activities and (14) tells us how we should behave with God. However, (10) still does not look parallel to (2) because we cannot individuate God like we can individuate a tree. We do not know anything about his attributes and so we are not aware of him in true terms. Plantinga puts down his main argument and says the belief that I see a tree supports the belief that there is a tree. This means that the properly basic proposition (2) which is also a perceptual belief holds because there is a tree. This can be put as another proposition. (15) There are trees. Accordingly, says Alvin Plantinga, the parallel properly basic belief (5) God is speaking to me holds because there is a God. Therefore, the properly basic belief (5) implies (16) which is loosely properly basic too. For Plantinga, proposition (16) is loosely properly basic. (16) There is a God. Interestingly, by putting it this way he refutes his own argument. The inferred belief that did not require any evidence or belief to support it (e.g. (2) I see a tree and (5) God is speaking to me) hold only because there are other beliefs (15) and (16). Firstly, this tells us that (2) and (5) are not properly basic because they require support. This way (15) and (16) may still be properly basic but Plantinga, probably does not give a fair reason for this. Logically, the form of Plantinga’s main argument is somewhat like this: P.X implies Q P.Y
Miller’s Dream – Fall 2012 Therefore, P.Y implies Q Where, P is the properly basic belief, X is I see a tree, Y is God is speaking to me and Q is it exists. There is a formal proof of validity of this symbolic equation which is why his argument is valid but it is also self-contradictory and unsound. Plantinga thinks his awareness of a tree is similar to his awareness of God speaking to him. Now it is possible to know yourself without inferring there is a tree but you cannot know yourself without inferring there is a necessary God. We are contingent and we can know a contingent tree but we cannot know the necessary God in the same way as we can know a tree. In short, belief in God should not be considered properly basic because it has been inferred from a properly basic statement, just as I see a tree has been inferred from there is a tree. I think the ground of his argument is not so strong.
Plantinga, A., “Is Belief in God Properly Basic?” Nous, Vol. 15 (1), (1981), p. 41-51. Goetz, Stewart C., “Belief in God is Not Properly Basic.” Rel. Stud., Vol.19, p. 475-484.