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Re: [ontolog-forum] brainwaves (WAS: to concept or not to concept, is th

To: "[ontolog-forum]" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2007 21:13:26 -0500
Message-id: <475CA0C6.1030904@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Folks,    (01)

I'd like to add that I also support the point by Chris M.
But I'd like to add an additional comment.    (02)

 > I do read things in this forum occasionally that sound dangerously
 > like the "postmodernist" thesis that modern physics is no more
 > true that Aristotelian physics, that science is just another
 > "grand narrative" aimed to keep the powerful in power, that the
 > scientific method is no better or worse a "way of knowing" than,
 > say, casting lots or consulting the Book of Mormon, etc etc.
 > Pernicious nonsense, that.    (03)

I certainly agree that scientific method is the best known way of
determining whether a given statement s is true or false about the
world.    (04)

But there is something that science does not tell us:  what does
a statement s mean for our daily lives.  In other words, what
should we do about the fact that s may or may not be true.    (05)

For example, consider the following three statements:    (06)

  1. Life is a glorious gift bestowed upon earth-like planets.    (07)

  2. Life evolves inevitably on any earth-like planet that has
     just the right amount of energy to maintain liquid water
     on the surface.    (08)

  3. Life is a cancer that infects earth-like planets that are no
     longer hot enough to cold enough to keep themselves sterile.    (09)

All three statements would be true or false under the same kinds
of conditions, but #1 implies that life is good, #2 is neutral
about the value of life, and #3 implies that life is bad.    (010)

The methods of science are capable of determining the probability
that life would develop on an earth-like planet.  But science, by
itself, does not make any value judgments.    (011)

To determine what to do about such statements, we must make value
judgments.  For example, if we accepted the view of #3, we could
develop a climate similar to Venus, which is very similar to earth.
However, Venus is hot enough to melt lead, boil away the oceans,
and have clouds of sulfuric acid.    (012)

Right now, a lot of people seem to agree that letting the earth
get hot enough to resemble Venus is desirable -- those are mainly
people who want to bring about "the end of days".  Other people,
however, would prefer to keep the earth's temperature more moderate.    (013)

Science shows how to achieve either goal, but people have to make
value judgments about which goal they should work toward.    (014)

John    (015)

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