The following is from +quot;Science at the Bar Causes for Concern+quot; by Larry Laudan, f

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The following is from "Science at the Bar- Causes for Concern" by Larry Laudan, from Science, Technology and Human Values 7, no. 41 (1982):16-19, reprinted on pages 351-355 of Michael Ruse's _But Is It Science?_. It refers to McLean v. Arkansas, the famous Creationism trial: "At various key points in the Opinion, Creationism is charged with being untestable, dogmatic (and thus non-tentative), and unfalsifiable. All three charges are of dubious merit. For instance, to make the interlinked claims that Creationism is neither falsifiable nor testable is to assert that Creationism makes no empirical assertions whatever. This is surely false. Creationists make a wide range of testable assertions about empirical matters of fact. Thus, as Judge Overton himself grants (apparently without seeing its implications), the creationists say that the earth is of very recent origin (say 6,000 to 20,000 years old); they argue that most of the geological features of the earth's surface are diluvial in character (i.e., products of the postulated worldwide Noachian deluge); they are committed to a large number of factual historical claims with which the Old Testament is replete; they assert the limited variability of species. They are committed to the view that, since animals and man were created at the same time, the human fossil record must be paleontologically co-extensive with the record of lower animals. It is fair to say that no one has shown how to reconcile such claims with the available evidence- evidence which speaks persuasively to a long earth history, among other things. "In brief, these claims are testable, they have been tested, and they have failed those tests." I provide the somewhat lengthy quotation to show both statements that could be ripped from context by creationists (the first few sentences) and also the context, to make clear why such statements were made. I also attributed to Laudan the view that the psychological fact that creationists are unwilling to accept contrary evidence is irrelevant to the status of their theory, so the following quote, from "More on Creationism", Science, Technology and Human Values 8, no. 42 (1983):36-38, also reprinted in Ruse's book, will support that interpretation: "...the soundness of creation-science can and must be separated from all questions about the dogmatism of creationists. Once we make that rudimentary separation, we discover both (a) that creation-science is testable and falsifiable, and (b) that creation-science has been tested and falsified- insofar as any theory can be said to be falsified. But, as I pointed out in the earlier essay, that damning indictment cannot be drawn so long as we confuse Creationism and creationists to such an extent that we take the creationists' mental intransigence to entail the immunity of creationist theory from empirical confrontation." Hopefully this makes Laudan's views, or at least his published views, clear; if you're really interested, look up the essays, as they are quite short and painless. It seems to me, looking at this from the viewpoint of philosophy as a whole, that a strain of crypto-Positivism remains strong in philosophy of science, and that Laudan represents a move toward the present philosophical mainstream (at least in Anglo-American philosophy) of post-Positivist analytic philosophy. Insofar as it seems to me that Logical Positivism died for good reasons, I can only consider this progress, even if it produces quotes that can be abused out of context.


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