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  1. Wes Wes

    Actually, he’s only 99% right. He would be 100% right if his post were titled, “What’s it like to be a batshit crazy creationist hack?”

  2. bob koepp bob koepp

    I disagree Nagel’s endorsement of Meyer’s book, but I also disagree with Leiter… His basic objection is not to any particular arguments set out by Nagel, but that Nagel “is lending credibility to individuals and groups whose goal it is to undermine the integrity of biology education for children.” Nagel would not accept that as a description of the purport of his arguments, and I don’t think we should either.

  3. Nagel would not accept that as a description of the purport of his arguments, and I don’t think we should either.

    Whatever his “purpose” was (and it was hardly set out in the original two paragraphs or in the two paragraphs of his letter), that was the effect and it is perfectly fair to comment on that.

  4. bob koepp bob koepp

    John Pieret –
    I don’t dispute that there are notions of “fairness” relative to which it is fair to comment on the effects of Nagel’s remarks; but that doesn’t bear at all on the intellectual merits (or not) of those remarks. It is particularly apt to note this elementary point since Leiter complains that Nagel’s letter responding to Fletcher “is striking for not responding to any of the substantive points.” I say, consider geese and ganders…

  5. No, I disagree. Pointing out that Nagel is raising a strawman about whether everything is reducible to physics and chemistry and pointing out that honest and rational “[d]oubts about reductive explanations of the origin of life” have nothing to do with what Meyer and the DI are doing, are substansive respones to Nagel’s letter.

  6. bob koepp bob koepp

    … except that Meyer actually does argue about physical reductionism, in terms that are quite familiar to Nagel. Meyer, unlike Nagel, thinks that his criticisms of physical reductionism underwrite an inference to an intelligent designer. I wish Nagel had taken care to distance himself from that sort of inference. But even if he had, that would be to address Meyers in terms of the intellectual substance (or not) of his position. And that’s still a separate issue from lending credibility (in whose eyes?) to the DI.

  7. Mr. Koepp: the earlier threads contained links to detailed critical discussions of Meyer’s work, making clear that only a scientific ignoramus could have recommended it. That Nagel’s carelessness will have deleterious consequences for schoolchildren just compounds his culpability.

  8. bob koepp bob koepp

    Mr Leiter – While I don’t credit Nagel with being a scientific sophisticate, I don’t believe he’s a scientific ignoramus. And, since I think there’s virtually no chance that intelligent design will ever make it into the public school science curriculum, I don’t believe his carelessness (if that’s what it is) will have deleterious consequences for schoolchildren.

  9. John Pieret’s criticism of Nagel is valid. Nagel cannot use “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” as a defense if it imperils the integrity of science education. However, Fletcher’s criticism, to which Nagel here responds, is not valid. Fletcher tries to use a piece of speculative scientific hypothesis, (that natural selection preceded the development of the cell or even of DNA, which is hardly a given) in order to try to establish that abiogenesis is no longer a scientific problem. RNA is just inert as DNA outside the ambient of cell and Fletcher cannot, by fiat, erase the problem of how replication originally arose for natural selection to act on, or by mystical appeals to the power of natural selection.

    Whatever Nagel’s shortcomings in the dispute, he is responsive to Fletcher in this particular case.

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