Guy Hoelzer wrote: > in article [email protected], Jeffrey > Turner at [email protected] wrote on 4/7/04 9:38 AM: >>Guy Hoelzer wrote: >>>in article [email protected], Jeffrey >>>Turner at [email protected] wrote on 4/3/04 8:02 PM: >>> >>> >>>>>Life's Solution: Inevitable Humans in a Lonely Universe >>>>>http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/- >>>>>/0521827043/ >>>>> >>>>>Morris argues from examples of biological convergence >>>>>that life is anything but accidental - but that its >>>>>tendency to repeatedly discover the same things over >>>>>and over again shows that the forms of living organisms >>>>>are _not_ accidental - or due to chance - but rather >>>>>are consequences of natural law. >>>> >>>>Bother! While striping arose twice in the evolutionary >>>>lineage of the three species of zebra, I find it >>>>laughable to hypothesize that there's some metaphysical >>>>preference for striped equines. >>> >>>I could not agree more strongly that allowing for ANY >>>involvement in metaphysics undermines the scientific >>>endeavor. However, you seem to have leaped for some >>>reason to equating metaphysics with natural law. I see >>>these as being entirely unrelated. Would you find it of >>>scientific interest to understand whether physics tends >>>to generate convergent patterns when similar species >>>encounter similar circumstances? Why would you find this >>>implausible? >> >>I don't. But the book cited - well, it takes a >>different view. > > [snip] > > Note that I never cited this book. You have confounded me > with another sbe poster. While I tend to agree with many > of Morris' conclusions, I frequently find the formulations > of his arguments unappealing. I didn't say you cited it. Tim Tyler cited it. You stepped in to defend it. I'm not sure how you separate the conclusions from the arguments. In order to understand how something happens you have to have the full story, not just "...and it comes out here." >>>>Natural law presupposes a natural lawgiver, something >>>>that's decidedly beyond the realm of science. >>> >>>Natural law does not presuppose a natural lawgiver. >>>Universalities at macroscopic scales can emerge from the >>>physics of small scale. I am not going to try to convince >>>you to join my point of view here, but I hope you open >>>your mind to the possibility of top-down causation as a >>>physical phenomenon. It is unfair and obstructionist to >>>paint this viewpoint with the rhetorical taint of >>>metaphysics as a way to shut down scientific discussion >>>of this topic. >> >>In doing science, one of the goals is to put into language >>our understanding of how the universe behaves. These human >>descriptions are often referred to as laws of nature, >>though nature itself isn't cognizant of any such things. >>Natural law states that these descriptions antedate human >>intelligence and we "discover" them. > > As someone who chooses not to use the concept of "natural > law", I think that you ought to keep your hands off of the > definition intended by others. I don't know of any > scientists who uses this term the way you want it defined, > although I appreciate that its original use was by > religious intellectuals as you pointed out in the bit I > snipped at the end of your post. I don't generally use the > term "natural law", but for me it evoke the concept that > there are universal rules governing the behavior of things > whether or not they have ever been articulated. We don't > so much "discover" natural laws, as attempt to articulate > them. We modify the way we articulate these laws as we > find data that call into question aspects of what we think > natural law works. Well if terms are going to mean what they evoke for you then who am I to argue about it. >>It is fundamentally a metaphysical construct. > > Then we mean something very different by this term. To me > it is fundamentally a question of physics. In fact, I > would say that there is no such thing as a metaphysical > construct of any kind. It seems to me that it would be > hard to be a scientist and believe in metaphysics at the > same time. Do you struggle with this apparent > incompatibility? No. It is quite difficult to think about two separate topics at the same time. If I am thinking hard about stamp collecting there's a good chance that I might burn my dinner. So I try to avoid being a philatelist and a cook at the same time. I don't actually think about metaphysics very often (it gives me headaches) but I find it useful when discussing a subject to use the terminology of that subject and not make up my own meanings for the words as I go along. >>If whales and fishes have similar external form it is >>because that form is advantageous to their existence, not >>because there is somehow an "inevitability" to that form. > > This does not sound like an open-minded, scientific > hypothesis. Why should I take your word that this is true? > >>Jellyfish have been around longer than either whales or >>herring and still have avoided the inevitable. > > Whose argument is supposed to suffer more from this > observation? Well, I suppose the implied argument was that there is a law of nature that says that all swimming creatures will end up with a tapered ellipsoidal body with fins and that a jellyfish obviously violates this "law." But I have no idea what you are intuiting so I will leave it alone. --Jeff -- A man, a plan, a cat, a canal - Panama! Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee and a couple of ha, ha, has; That's how we pass the day away, in the merry old land of Oz.