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Episteme Vol. XIV


"A Defense of Scientific Phenomenalism from the Perspective of Contemporary Physics" by John Lee

Contrary to believing in scientific realism, the author provides a defense of scientific phenomenalism, which holds that only things that we can perceive can be counted as things that exist. The author agrees with W. T. Stace, who holds that science does not explain but merely describes and predicts. Such an understanding suggests that scientists go beyond their bounds when they support the existence of certain theoretical (non-observable) entities—things like quarks and warped spacetime. When such “things” are just mathematical constructs, it becomes easier to comprehend the nature of light, the Higgs mechanism, the electro and magnetic fields, and even the bold, albeit confusing, supersymmetry theory. Likely as beneficial to capital S science as Popper’s falsificationism, scientific phenomenalism, when compared to realism, is more concise, less confusing, and better at describing the continued usefulness of rejected theories.

"Desertification and Metaphysics in Nietzsche and Abbey" by David Allen Chenault

The truth is neither simply culture derived from nature, nor nature from culture. Can we (qua humans) merge with nature and still maintain our self-intelligibility? –This is the question that the anti-anti-naturalist concentrates on. The author looks at Nietzsche’s critique of metaphysics, which posits a new metaphysics that requires us to enter the violent, heartless desert that is the paradoxical dual immanence of nature. The paper looks at the desert in the Genealogy’s discussion of the ascetic ideal, and how it relates to Edward Abbey’s isolation and book Desert Solitaire. Importantly, the similarities in-part stem from their similar post-modern sensibility. In the end, it turns out that the desert is a purifying place—that humanity’s meaning comes from a turning away from that is at the same time a turning towards.

"What is 'Natural' About Natural Science: Philosophical Naturalism in the Evolution Debate" by Hya P. Winham

Creationist Phillip E. Johnson argues that evolution theory is a product of a bias toward naturalistic explanation—a materialist philosophical ideology that encroaches on empirical science. This position even got some support from philosopher Michael Ruse. But the fact is science must include a base level of presupposition; the creationist, while supplying her own, mistakenly thinks that science can operate without such an explanatory guide. This paper defends naturalism in science, thereby rejecting the concerns and arguments of neo-creationists. In this effort, the author argues why naturalism is important to science, uses Dewey to explain why anti-naturalism leads to careless science, and turns to Hume to expose some logical mistakes in the creationist position.

"Religious Experience, Pluralistic Knowledge and William James" by Brittany G. Trice

This article explores the qualities and nature of the “religious” or mystical experience according to James and pragmatic philosophy in general. The author initially provides an overview of James’ philosophy of religion, which includes his pragmatic commitments, understanding of experience, and emphasis on cognitive relations. Then there arises a question: How can I know that others have mystical experience, too? James’s push to make the mystical experience scientific misjudges the utility of his quasi-chaos idea, which can be shown to support inter-subjective knowledge and position religion within what the author deems “pluralistic knowledge.” In the end, Rorty and Bruce Wilshire are employed in order to demonstrate the high importance and greatness of such pluralistic knowledge, particularly with regard to the supersensible.

"Behavior and Other Minds: A Response to Functionalists" by Mike Lockhart

Functionalism’s metaphysics is wrongly thought to answer the epistemological question of the existence of the other’s mentality. Contra Elliot Reed, the practical utility of being able to solve the problem of other minds does not make functionalism the best theory of mind, nor does it actually solve the problem of other minds. Reed’s circular argument implicitly relies on abstract behaviorism and the need to solve the problem of other minds. What must come first, however, is a correct ontology of the mind. Functionalism struggles with intentionality, disregards qualia, and, according to Searle’s excellent thought experiments, is incompatible with what we believe about consciousness. Functionalism is not king. Rest assured, turning away from a behavior-based solution to the problem of other minds need not push us into skepticism; until a robust neuroscience arrives, we should be content with common sense.

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