Wo posts a new paper, Lewisian Meaning Without Naturalness arguing against an interpretation of Lewis’s theory of meaning that has been promoted by Ted Sider, Robert Stalnaker, and me. (At least if I’m wrong I’m in good company!) Well worth reading closely.
Sappho’s Breathing links to Edge’s World Question Centre which each year asks an open-ended question, in this case “What is your dangerous idea?”. Cleis notes that of the 117 luminaries they get to answer the question, only 11 are female. This isn’t a very good effort on their part at getting a good cross-representation. Sadly, their representation of non-whites, or even of us southern hemisphereans, isn’t great either.
But, Plantinga asked and answered, who should decide what children are taught in schools? Parents. According to Plantinga, the majority of people are against the form of unguided evolution that says life as we have it “arose without the benefit of divine design.”
Well this is an indirect quote, so we should give Plantinga the benefit of the doubt that what he said isn’t as absurd as what he’s reported as having said. And I’d bet most of the biology books Plantinga is (implicitly) criticising don’t say that life arose without divine design, but instead say how life arose in a way that is (a) true, (b) doesn’t require a divine designer, and perhaps© leaves it a little mysterious why a designer would have chosen this means. But that’s very different from teaching there is no divine origin to the world. And let’s still note something else wrong with what’s reported.
Imagine a mythical community that takes the passages in the bible indicating that pi equals 3 so seriously that they insist this be taught in maths classes. (Or, more relevantly, that 51% of the community thinks this.) By Plantinga’s lights the parents should get to insist that in their students’ maths texts, pi equals 3 is to be taught. Now two interesting questions arise.
- Is there any grounds for supporting the parents’ right to have ID taught that wouldn’t extend to a right to these mythical parents to have pi equals 3 taught?
- Would it do more intellectual damage to (a) teach that the broadly Darwinian story about the development of species is false or (b) teach that the broadly Lambertian story about the irrationality of pi is false?
I think the answers are ‘no’ and (a). I also think that’s a reductio of Plantinga’s (reported) position, but your mileage may vary. There is a hard political philosophy problem around here, the problem of the outvoted democrat, but I’ll leave off at this.
Posted by Brian Weatherson in Uncategorized