4/02/2005

Naturalism

B.F. Skinner, Revisited

This is a perfect example of the kind of naturalism that you know must exist because J.P. Moreland spends a lot of time refuting it, even though you've probably never actually met someone who believes it. The author of this article does, and he seems to take the truth of natualism as obvious to all thinking people. Notice, for instance, how he dispenses with Libertarian freedom in one tidy sentence:
Either our behavior is a consequence of prior events, in which case we are not responsible for such actions, or it is truly spontaneous and thus random, in which case we are, if anything, even less responsible.

Huh. apparently the philosophers involved in the extensive literature on the subject never got the memo. Also notice how he assumes without argument that science has established the truth of naturalism:
"You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased it, 'You're nothing but a pack of neurons.'"

For nearly all scientists, as well as nonscientists with an empirical turn of mind, there is nothing whatsoever astonishing about this hypothesis.

Your guess is as good as mine as to how science has anything whatsoever, positive or negative, to say about the spiritual element of man. "We can only observer material things, therefore only material things exist" seems to be the assumption. But that assumption is a philosophical one, not a scientific one. Of course, the author is a scientist and not a philosopher, so my first instinct is to be easy on him because he's a scientist doing philosophy. My second instinct, however, is to be hard on him because he's a scientist doing philosopy.

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