Accommodating Science: Unpicking the arguments

So given that it is not entirely clear what religion is, or even what science is, it would help if we could put the arguments clearly. It is hard to find clear statements of either the accommodationist or the anti-accommodationist positions, so what we have to do first is reconstruct them. And to do that, Read More…

Accommodating Science: What is the problem?

[As I write the first draft of my accommodationism book, I will post chapters here under the Category “Accommodationism”. Here is the latest – which comes before Undefining Religion] The religion-versus-science debate took a special turn in the West because of the existence not only of doctrinal religion but of a monopolistic doctrinal religion that Read More…

Undefining religion

[This will be a series of posts based on a book I am writing – see last post] When anthropologists began to study religions in cultures other than the European context, which itself was based upon Roman jurisprudence, they encountered a difficulty. Until this time, in the mid-nineteenth century, “religion” had meant Christianity, with a Read More…

Degrees of religion

Larry Moran quotes Jason Rosenhouse disputing Phil Plait: So, after all, that, let us return to Plait’s argument. He tells us that the problem is too many people perceiving evolution as a threat to their religious beliefs. Indeed, but why do they perceive it that way? Is it a failure of messaging on the part of Read More…

Books I am reading/reviewing

Despite marking scores of essays, after having taught a subject intensive, and preparing various papers, I get to review some books. This means reading them, familiarising myself with the technical literature, and so on. So I thought I’d do a brief summary of them for you now: The first is this: M. A. Khalidi, Natural Categories Read More…

How to argue with silly thing believers

[Apologies this took a while; I’ve been rather sick] So, given all this [Why believers believe silly things, why they believe the particular silly things they do, and the developmental hypothesis of belief acquisition], how can you change a believer’s mind? It is tempting to say that you cannot, or to take a more rationalist Read More…

The “developmental hypothesis” of belief acquisition

In the last two posts I have discussed why members of belief-groups have silly beliefs (that is, beliefs that the wider population finds silly), and why those particular beliefs, whatever they are, are the ones they believe. In broad terms, the answer is that these are arbitrary, costly hard-to-fake signals of group membership which tend Read More…

Natural classification

It occurs to me that I haven’t plugged my own book here. What a failure on my part! It was published in December, so it is really time I did so. In this book, Malte Ebach and I discuss a topic not often discussed in the philosophy of science: the classification of nature in the Read More…

The problem with logic

When teaching students critical reasoning it is an article of faith that we should teach them logic. Of course, we ameliorate any benefit this might have by teaching it incomprehensibly and in artificial cases. But still, we believe logic is what is most important in philosophy and in culture generally. Ah, culture… in which someone Read More…

Articles of faith: The theological and philosophical origins of the concept of species

It takes a while for the implications of one’s own work to sink in. In my 2009 book Species, a History of the Idea (see here), I argued that the notion that before Darwin people were essentialistic and fixist about species was false. A recent paper by Jack Powers about Mayr’s misreading of Plato complements an earlier Read More…