Re: Scientific Faith

Juan C. Garelli (Garelli@ATTACH.EDU.AR)
Thu, 12 Oct 1995 22:40:17 +0000

On Thu, 12 Oct 1995, ray scupin wrote a propos of my (JC Garelli's)
posting on the untenability of a comprehensible or uncritical

> I disagree with this contention. A faith in science and the rationalism
> that underlies it is different than faith in religion.

It would not be harmful if responders read the messages they
are replying to. (And so spare us a briefing on Popper's Demarcation
Criterion [1934!]).
I never said that faith in science is the same as faith in religion.
I said that in order to qualify as a true critical rationalist, one must admit
one believes in rationalism, i.e., one has faith in rationalism.
If that is now clear, suppose I asked you in case you support a
rationalist attitude in science, whether you think rationalism can be
substantiated by means of argument or experience,
what would you answer?

---JC Garelli

++++++++ray scupin's posting goes on+++++++++

> > David Roland Strong wrote:
> >
> > > In order for science to be useful, a certain amount of faith
> > > must exist...
> >
> > I agree, at least in part, because a comprehensive rationalism is
> > untenable.
> > The rationalist attitude is characterized by the importance it
> > attaches to argument and experience. But neither logical argument nor
> > experience can establish the rationalist attitude; for only those who
> > are ready to consider argument and experience, and who have therefore
> > adopted this stance already are likely to be impressed by them. In
> > other words, a rationalist stance must first be adopted if any
> > argument or experience is to be effective, and it cannot therefore be
> > based upon argument or experience. As I stated in a previous posting,
> > no rational argument will have a rational effect on somebody who does
> > not want to adopt a rational attitude. This is why a cromprehensive
> > rationalism is untenable.
> >
> > So this means that whoever adopts the rationalist stance does so
> > because he has adopted, wittingly or unwittingly, some proposal, or
> > decision, or belief; an adoption which we may call "irrational".
> > Whether this adoption is tentative or leads to a settled habit, we
> > may describe it as an "irrational faith in reason". This is frequently
> > overlooked by rationalists who thus expose themselves to a beating in
> > their own field and by their favourite weapon whenever a clever
> > irrationalist cares to take the trouble to turn it against them.
> >
> > Indeed it does not escape the attention of some enemies of
> > rationalism that one can always refuse to accept arguments -either
> > all of them or those of a certain kind- and that such stance can be
> > carried through without becoming logically inconsistent. This leads
> > them to see that the uncritical rationalist who believes that
> > rationalism is self-contained and can be established by argument is
> > wrong. Consequently, irrationalism is logically superior to
> > Uncritical rationalism. So the only tenable position is that of the
> > Critical Rationalist, who admits he _believes_ in reason.
> I disagree with this contention. A faith in science and the rationalism
> that underlies it is different than faith in religion. Although I concur
> with D. Foss and John McCreery and others that science and religion often
> intersect in a variety of ways, a faith in science is based on
> empirically available worldly (objective) evidence, whereas faith in
> religion is based on personal, subjective interpretations such as
> visions, the personal interpretations of texts that are not subject to
> public confirmation, hallucinations, etc. One has belief/faith/confidence
> in science and rationalism because one can observe with others that airplanes
> and space shuttles fly into the stratosphere and medical biological research
> produces new medicines that can cure illnesses. One has
> belief/faith/confidence in religion because of personal subjective
> feelings and insights that cannot be confirmed by public verification.
> Faith in science versus faith in religion are categorically different, and
> reverberate around the distinctions that Kant made between the phenomenal
> world and the noumenal.
> Cheers,
> Ray Scupin
Juan Carlos Garelli, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Early Development
University of Buenos Aires
Juncal 1966, 1116 BA, Argentina
Tel: 54-1 812 5521
Fax: 54-1 812 5432