I’ve read quite a bit of what Morton has written in relation to ID specifically as it relates to the Dover Trial. The trial pretty much condensed all the pros and conns for and against ID and enabled the best arguments to be put forward in a fair and reasonable way.
Morton has written a paper on it (http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/2583...turalism_2.pdf
) and it makes for interesting reading. He suggests that the judge in this case rejected the ID case purely on the basis of it being a religious based proposal, the fact that it is not scientific and that the Intelligent Design had been refuted by the scientific community.
Notwithstanding that Behe and other ID-ers admit to looking for answers to a question on which they have already decided, his arguments stand up to a certain degree.
There is no doubt that Behe, for example, is undoubtedly conducting science when he offers examples of irreducible complexity. That the science is wrong, as Morton readily admits, does not preclude it from being science. I can’t see any arguments against that. Behe is not simply standing on street corners with a placard that says that the world is about to end. He does the hard yards in trying to prove his point and as I’ve said before, you would really have to be an expert in the fields of biology and mathematics to name just two, to be able to follow the debate, let alone come to a definitive view about it.
To counter the (obvious) point that science that is wrong can hardly be supported, Morton uses Newtonian physics as an example. New theories have supersede Newtonian ones but Newtonian physics is still taught in schools. But I don’t think he’s got much to argue with here, as Newtonian physics isn’t ‘wrong’, it’s just not accurate enough to be used in certain circumstances. Same as Euclidian geometry. It’s not wrong either, but it can’t be used in certain circumstances.
Behe, however, is (and again, as Morton admits), wrong in this particular case. Morton is actually saying that ID uses bad science but it’s science nevertheless. Well, OK. I’ll go with that.
He then moves on to methodological naturalism and the fact that he is also a philosopher of religion as well as science I think allows him to stretch his arguments too far. He suggests that a supernatural explanation could be a valid reason for scientific observations. He literally suggests that evidence for God could be forthcoming – and we’re not talking about weeping statues or dancing suns here. Ipso facto, supernatural events could be explained by science, therefore supernatural events are scientific. QED.
The problem with this is that the supernatural event that is causing whatever it is you are observing is open to any, and I mean any, interpretation. Rather than saying – ‘actually, we don’t know the reason at this point in time, but we’re working on it’ – Morton is suggesting that we fill in the gaps of our knowledge with ‘possible’ supernatural causes.
If that were the case, then any gap in knowledge could be filled likewise. But what are you actually doing? I’d say you’re putting a placeholder in the literature: Possible Supernatural Event – to be confirmed.
Where does that get you? Maybe it helps Morton sleep better at night knowing that he’s being as fair as he possibly can, but it doesn’t advance the ID cause any amount at all. He’s not really defending ID. He’s defending a very narrow view of epistemology.
Quite interesting, nevertheless.