I noticed that Krauss was quite clear in the debate regarding his disdain of philosophy. While he said he does not subscribe to scientism because he believes we can have knowledge outside of what science can tell us, he did make it clear that he does not think philosophical arguments can ever serve as evidence. It seemed clear that he required empirical evidence. But as Greg Koukl likes to say, that’s like trying to weigh a chicken with a yardstick. It’s the wrong tool for the job. Philosophy is the academic discipline best equipped to provide evidence for or against the existence of an immaterial entity.
I’m hearing more and more people respond as Krauss did these days. How would you rebut it? How would you demonstrate that philosophical arguments and conclusions do serve as evidence in debate (particularly regarding the existence of God)? How would you go about showing that philosophy is indispensable to the task of discovering the truth?
I agree. Philosophy underpins everything. It’s like the glasses on our nose through which we see the world. People like Krauss are so used to them that he doesn’t even realize they are there.
But how would you show that philosophical arguments count as evidence? I would do so by presenting a scenario that requires philosophy. For example, if someone tells you, “I have a square circle in my glove box. Do you want to see it?”, you don’t have to walk to their car to inspect the contents of their glove box (empirical evidence) in order to conclude that they are lying. You know they are lying because the concept of a square circle is contradictory and incoherent. In this case, the law of non-contradiction served as evidence to settle the debate, wholly apart from empirical evidence.
I would also point out that philosophy is required to turn empirical facts into actual empirical evidence. Facts do not come with their interpretations. They provide the raw data necessary to draw conclusions, but the conclusions themselves can only be made via the use of philosophical reasoning. For example, we observe stellar redshifts in the universe. In itself, this is just a bare empirical fact. But as we apply philosophical reasoning to this fact (reasoning that if objects are consistently moving away from each other, they must have been closer together in the past), suddenly it is transformed into empirical evidence for the conclusion that the universe was smaller in the past.
Here’s the point: If philosophical reasoning is what “transforms” empirical facts into actual empirical evidence, then philosophical reasoning is the “evidence-maker.” If philosophical reasoning is necessary to generate evidence for any conclusion, then surely philosophical reasoning itself can serve as evidence. I’m having a hard time articulating this, so hopefully it makes sense.
jasondulle wrote: Craig does not present the KCA as a scientific argument. It is a philosophical argument. What he does say is that scientific evidence supports one of the premises of the argument.
jasondulle wrote: I noticed that Krauss was quite clear in the debate regarding his disdain of philosophy.
I noticed that Krauss was quite clear in the debate regarding his disdain of philosophy.
you guys keep repeating this. You are insane if you think that was Krauss's point.
Thinking wrote: I have a feeling Krauss's point was that if science and a philosophical position disagree, physical reality and science win out. I think we can agree reality wins out if our deepest philosophical conclusions are at odds with the world.
jasondulle wrote: Alexander,Do you have a rebuttal to offer to my first paragraph, or would you agree that philosophical reasoning can serve as evidence? You may be right that the average person may not understand that, but the average does not do much thinking and has little training in logic and critical thinking, so this should not be surprising. But the issue you raised was not how the argument may be perceived by lay observers, but how Craig presents the argument, and what the physicists understand Craig to mean. So we both agree that Craig does not claim it is a scientific argument, nor present it as such. That being the case, I think we can both agree that physicists should take the argument seriously since they, unlike the lay observer of these debates, should be intellectually savvy enough to understand the distinctions Craig is making.
jasondulle wrote: What value did Krauss assign to philosophy in the debate? None. Instead, he maligned Aristotelian logic. And he didn't just say that empirical evidence trumps philosophical evidence. He said philosophical reasoning does not count as evidence at all. He spoke of philosophy as if it were mere speculation that should be taken with a grain of salt. I would consider this a disdain of philosophy. Someone who has respect for philosophy as a means of knowledge would not speak as Krauss did.
So as you can see, philosophy is what underpins all other bodies of knowledge. Which is why there is such a wide scope of disciplines in philosophy. Krauss is simply ignorant to the point, and is completely oblivious to the fact that while attacking philosophical argument, he actually confirms its necessity by assuming prior philosophical predispositions in order to argue in the way that he does.