Archive for April 18th, 2011

April 18, 2011

The Synthese flap – what’s the big deal?

by Neil Rickert

When the philosophy journal Synthese published a special issue critical of Intelligent Design, they included a disclaimer.  There has been a stink in the blogosphere, with accusations that Synthese editors have caved in to pressure from ID proponents.  And now there is a move afoot to boycott Synthese.

I am wondering why such a big deal.  Almost the entirety of philosophy is based on deeply entrenched ID thinking.  This is hardly surprising, given that the discipline of philosophy developed in an era where ID thinking was the norm.  Moreover, philosophy is respectful of those older traditions, unlike science which will quickly discard an old idea once it has a better replacement.

Epistemology is one of the core areas within philosophy.  It is a theory of knowledge that is derived from traditional ID thinking, as is philosophy of science (sometimes referred to as scientific epistemology).  This is why many scientists have little use for philosophy.  The philosophy of mind is mostly a theory of how to intelligently design a conscious mind.  It has made little progress, and some people now assert that consciousness does not exist, or is an illusion or is an epiphenomenon.  Personally, I think it is impossible to design a conscious mind – consciousness can only arise through evolution.

So now some philosophers, scholars in a tradition based on ID thinking, are criticizing one of their premier journals because it appears to be favoring ID.

This could be a fun food fight to watch.  Stock up on popcorn.