10 Hours Philosophy

1) One common misunderstanding of evolutionary theory is that each of the characteristics produced in the evolutionary process must be adaptations. There are instead cases in which non-adaptive characteristics can become prevalent in populations through evolutionary processes. What does Kitcher give as an example of such a case?

Select one: a. sickle-cell anemia in populations subject to some types of malaria b. the tenrecs of Madagascar c. diabetes in giraffes with shorter necks d. homosexuality in human populations in which members of the population have 2D:4D finger ratios 2) Whatever the weaknesses of his criticisms of Scientific Creationism, Gilkey does accurately report on the essentials of Scientific Creationism, as outlined in the Louisiana creation science statute. Select one: True False

 

 

3) In an August, 2013, paper in the Journal of Chemical Physics, “Statistical Physics and Self-Replication,” Professor Jeremy England (Physics, MIT), reportedly argues that … when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy. This could mean that under certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life. 
http://www.simonsfoundation.org/quanta/20140122-a-new-physics-theory-of-life/ England’s account promises to fill an explanatory gap mentioned in RSLM, page 81, concerning how life originated on Earth. Notice however that the description makes no mention of natural selection (or mutation or recombination). Assume that this is not just an omission on the reporter’s part (in fact, it isn’t), and that England’s account of the origin of life does not rely on the notion of natural selection (or mutation or recombination). Then, critics of evolutionary theory might say, if England’s account is correct then this shows that evolutionary theory fails as an explanation of life on Earth: England’s account can explain how life originated on Earth but evolutionary theory cannot. Is this a good objection to evolutionary theory? Select one: a. Yes, and if evolutionary theory fails as an explanation of life on Earth, then either Scientific Creationism or Intelligent Design Creationism will be left as the only alternatives (though not both of these kinds of creationism can be correct). b. No, evolutionary theory is not constrained to use the concepts of natural selection, mutation or recombination and is free to adopt other concepts if they yield better, more unified explanations. c. Yes, and it even promises to provide the missing element in Intelligent Design Creationism: a definition of irreducible complexity. d. No, evolutionary theory is not intended as an explanation of the origin of all life on Earth.

 

 

4) Since science is not “a race for the truth with starters sharply distinguishable from non-starters,” if one branch of inquiry, B1, is less systematic than another branch of inquiry, B2, then B1 is less scientific than B2. Select one: True False 5) Feyerabend argues in his comments on the Malleus Maleficarum that the study of demonology should be a standard part of science education, though teaching astrology, a distorted form of early mediaeval astronomy, should be avoided. Select one: True False

 

 

6) Kitcher reports (100-106) that some Scientific Creationists have objected to evolutionary theory by arguing that the evolution of complex organisms from simple ones is highly improbable, even if one supposes that the universe is billions of years old and that favorable mutations takes place more often and more rapidly than is realistically supposed. Kitcher points out a number of serious flaws in the objection. He also says that the objector does calculate something correctly. What, according to Kitcher is correctly calculated and why doesn’t that calculation provide the basis for a good objection to evolutionary theory? Select one: a. calculated correctly: the probability that evolutionary theory boils down to a tautology; irrelevant because evolutionary theory does not boil down to a tautology (55-60) b. calculated correctly: the probability that a single surviving organism mutates into a far more complex organism during billions of years; irrelevant: because the mutation game is a team sport c. calculated correctly: the likelihood that a population of, say, horses can evolve from a population of one-celled organisms; does not make for a good objection because evolutionary theory covers many cases of evolution from multi-cellular organisms to more complex multi-cellular organisms d. the Scientific Creationist’s objection ignores the role of the principle of natural selection 7) Because Super-acupuncture is based on far more observational evidence of the relevant kind than ancient Chinese Acupuncture, and is more effective in medical treatment, Super-acupuncture provides a far better explanation than ancient Chinese Acupuncture of the effectiveness of acupuncture. Select one: True False

 

 

8) In “Winning through Pseudoscience,” Glymour and Stalker offer six so- called “fundamental principles of pseudoscience construction:”

Principle 1: A coincidence in the hand is worth two in the bush. 
Principle 2: A purpose to everything and everything to its purpose. Principle 3: The taller the story, the harder it falls. … (it helps if your theory contradicts a theory nobody much likes anyway) … 
Principle 4: Even physics isn’t all that precise. 
Principle 5: Science is numbers and gauges. 
Principle 6: Saying no to nit-pickers.

Review of the excerpt of Behe’s testimony in Kitzmiller v Dover (RSLM), defending Intelligent Design Creationism (IDC) shows that Behe’s defense is right in line with these six principles! And the origin of IDC in political strategizing (Johnson’s The Wedge, RSLM). So IDC is a pseudoscientific “gadget,” although one directed at political rather than financial success. Does this criticism of IDC show that IDC is pseudoscientific? Select one: a. Some of the weaknesses of IDC are described by Glymour and Stalker in their discussion of the six principles but there is substantial work to be done to make it clear how their points apply, whether they identify all of the relevant weakenesses, and it is still not relevant that the development of IDC was both religiously and politically motivated. b. No, as stressed in “Astrology” and other chapters of RSLM, a theory cannot be shown to be pseudoscientific by criticising its proponents, and that’s all the six principles do. c. Yes, since the record of Kitzmiller v Dover includes evidence of lying and dissembling by key members of the Dover County School Board who said during meetings that they aimed to “get Christ back into the classroom.” d. No, there is no mention of systematicity (the virtues of scientific hypotheses: conservatism, generality, etc.) or of the roughly equivalent characteristics of good explanations given in Chapter 2 of Kitcher’s Abusing Science.

 

 

9)The only way to verify the hypotheses of molecular biology is to rely on evolutionary theory, so molecular biology cannot be used to provide evidence for evolutionary theory (-they are not independently testable, in Kitcher’s terms). Select one: True False 10) Suppose that a theory, T, originated hundreds of years ago; plays social and political roles of no great significance; is moderately precise (numerically and in definition of its key concepts); has been tested very carefully many times; has raised questions worth answering; is internally consistent; has at least some conservatism and generality; has been misused by unscrupulous proponents and has produced dangerous knowledge; is expertly judged not to be very simple; and there is no completely understood physical mechanism for the phenomena it concerns. Then, according to the standards in Chapter 2 of Kitcher’s Abusing Science (and the roughly equivalent standard of systematicity), Select one: a. T is very highly scientific b. T is very highly pseudoscientific c. T is in the mid-range of scientific theories d. T might fall almost anywhere in the multi-diimensional science-pseudoscience quality space

 

 

11) If astrology is inconsistent with phrenology – [assume that astrology’s slogan is, “Our destiny is in the stars, not in our brains,” and phrenology’s slogan is, “Our destiny is in our brains, not in the stars”] – then astrophrenology (=astrology+phrenology) might nonetheless be true and therefore not pseudoscientific. Select one: True False 12) By any reasonable standard (either the systematicity standard in “Phrenology” or the standard in Chapter 2 of Abusing Science), if all of a theory’s predictions about observable phenomena are false and it has little practical utility, then that theory is highly pseudoscientific. Select one: True False 13) According to Judge Jones, one of the main reasons that ID should not be taught in public school science courses is that ID is false. Select one: True False

 

 

14) If Xology is a branch of inquiry that 1. first developed during the 20th century; 2. plays a significant social or political roles in contemporary society; 3. uses concepts that are very precise; 4. at every time contains only testable theories, where all of those theories

are known to be internally consistent, and at least somewhat conservative and general;

5. always attempts to investigate phenomena that are not known to be impossible and then seeks to answer questions about the underlying mechanisms;

6. never has tried and never will try to explain the ultimate origin of the universe;

7. makes little or no use of purpose-directed explanation; 8. is practiced only by those who are open-minded and honest in their work; 9. has provided information with almost no potential for abuse, then, according to the criteria of systematicity (in “Phrenology,” RSLM) and the roughly equivalent criteria in Kitcher’s Abusing Science, Chapter 2, Xology must be highly scientific. Select one: True False

 

 

15) Professor Marc Breedlove worked with other researchers to measure the relative lengths of second (index) and fourth (ring) fingers of human hands. The results were interesting enough to warrant publication in one of the world’s leading science journals [“Finger-length ratios and sexual orientation,” Nature 404 (30 March 2000), 455 – 456]. Because the research provided some evidence that prenatal exposure to particular hormones increases the likelihood that those exposed will engage in homosexual behavior in adulthood, the popular press reported the results. In RSLM, some particularly serious errors in one journalist’s reporting and Breedlove’s attempts to correct them are discussed at length. But Breedlove found that most of the popular press reports were fairly accurate. One of the better popular press reports began by saying,

In a study sure to provoke a lot of self-examination, a University of California at Berkeley team has found that differences in the lengths of one’s fingers may yield clues about sexual orientation. Lesbians on average turned out to have more “masculine” hands than heterosexual women – with the index finger significantly shorter than the ring finger. There was no such difference in the hands of gay and straight men, however. 
A few paragraphs later, the author of the press report cautions, the “self- examination” would be silly:

Nor can finger lengths be used as a reliable guide to very much of anything, although it’s long been known that men tend to have longer fingers than women. “The differences are subtle,” said Raymond Blanchard, a pioneer in gender and sexuality studies …. “There’s no way anybody could use this to screen a date.” 
Blanchard’s remark might make it sound as if the problem with using the research results in dating was that very careful finger-length measurements would be required (“Uh, excuse me while I get my laser calipers to measure your finger lengths exactly.”) But the rest of the discussion explains that this is not the main problem with using the results to determine whether or not an individual is a lesbian.

What is the main problem? Select one:

 

 

a. It’s wrong to invade someone’s personal space by making such measurements, especially if one is unsure of his or her sexual orientation. b. None of the research results reported involved men’s relative finger lengths, so measurement would be no help at all with male date prospects. Dating techniques that don’t apply to half of the population are discriminatory. c. Being a lesbian is not a biologically adaptive trait (as “adaptive” is meant in evolutionary theory) which would make dating lesbians biologically pointless. d. The research concerns a statistical pattern – described as a “tendency” – which is not a characteristic of each individual with a given sexual orientation and gender.

 

 

16) Consider this reason for finding astrology, phrenology and sexology to be pseudoscientific: Astrology tells us that human actions are determined by forces exerted on us by the stars and planets. Phrenology says that what people do is determined by their brains. Sexology says that human actions are determined by the sex drive. In all three cases, people act not because they choose freely but because forces beyond their control make them (“determined”) act as they do. But no one is morally responsible for what forces beyond their control make them do. So in all three cases, (*) No one is ever morally responsible for any of the actions mentioned. Any theory or branch of inquiry that has the latter consequence [(*)] is a pseudoscience, since it conflicts so radically with the fact that sometimes, people perform actions for which they are morally responsible. How is this line of reasoning flawed as an attempt to distinguish science from pseudoscience? Select one: a. It would also imply that many scientific theories, e.g., Newtonian mechanics, are pseudoscience because they too have the result that behavior is determined by the laws of nature, which are surely beyond human control b. It focuses on the truth or falsity of the alleged pseudoscience, but the distinction between science and pseudoscience is primarily about investigation-worthiness, not truth or falsity. c. It ignores the distinction between a theory and a branch of inquiry in claiming that sexology says that human action is determined by the sex drive. d. all of the others

 

 

17) We do not imply that a legislature could never require that scientific critiques of prevailing scientific theories be taught. … teaching a variety of scientific theories about the origins of humankind to schoolchildren might be validly done with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction. But because the primary purpose of the [Louisiana] Creationism Act is to endorse a particular religious doctrine, the Act furthers religion in violation of the Establishment Clause …. Justice Brennan for the majority in [LouisianaGovernor] Edwards v Aguillard, 1987 [quoted in RSLM, 65] Justice Brennan’s qualification, “… with the clear secular intent of enhancing the effectiveness of science instruction.” suggests this: if a state legislature reasonably believed that including comparison of, say, two or three alternatives to evolutionary theory in public school science classes would advance the goals of teaching science, then the legislature could require that the comparison be taught in public school science classes without violating the First Amendment Establishment Clause – as long as the legislature clearly intended the comparison to improve science classes and not to further a particular religious view. In Abusing Science, Kitcher argued that Scientific Creationism is a very weak theory, lacking in almost every characteristic that a good explanation must have. If Kitcher’s assessment is correct, then Scientific Creationism would be aptly labeled “pseudoscientific” (by the criteria in Chapter 2 of Abusing Science). Would it then follow that Scientific Creationism should not be among those two or three alternatives to evolutionary theory? How could including such a weak theory enhance the effectiveness of science instruction? Select one: a. Yes, SC should not be among the two or three alternatives to evolutionary theory because its indisputably religious origin makes it impossible to discuss it without furthering religion in a constitutionally impermissible way. b. Yes, SC should not be among the two or three alternatives to evolutionary theory, as Kitcher himself says on pages 180-181 of Abusing Science. c. No, it would not follow that SC should be excluded unless Intelligent Design Creationism were the only other alternative

 

 

considered. d. No, it would not follow that SC should be excluded, because developing a sharp contrast between a pair (or more) of theories can be highly instructive.

 

 

18) Plantinga gives a counterexample to the general claim that, as he puts it, “propositions about supernatural beings – that life has been designed by a[t least one] supernatural being – are not verifiable or falsifiable.” The counterexample is the proposition that God has designed 800-pound rabbits that live in Cleveland, which is “clearly testable, clearly falsifiable and indeed clearly false.”

Suppose that Judge Jones were to reply in this way: The proposition, “God has designed 800-pound rabbits that live in Cleveland” is best understood as three simpler propositions put together: 10. “There is a God” and 11. “God designed and created everything” and 12. “There are 800-pound rabbits that live in Cleveland” where the first two are untestable propositions are about supernatural beings and the last is a testable proposition that is not about supernatural beings. It’s only the last proposition that makes the more complex proposition testable. Therefore the first two remain untestable and off- limits for science. Which of the following remarks from Laudan’s “Commentary: Science at the Bar—Causes for Concern,” would be most helpful to Plantinga in giving an effective rejoinder to the Judge’s supposed reply? Select one: a. “However noble the motivation, bad philosophy makes for bad law.” b. “As numerous authors have shown, the requirements of testability, revisability, and falsifiability are exceedingly weak requirements.” c. “Rather than taking on the creationists obliquely and in

 

 

wholesale fashion by suggesting that what they are doing is ‘unscientific’ … we should confront their claims directly and in piecemeal fashion by asking what evidence and arguments can be marshalled for and against each of them.” d. “… many scientific claims are not testable in isolation, but only when embedded in a larger system of statements, some of whose consequences can be submitted to test.”

 

 

19) Although IDC is said to hold that some complex biological systems are surely or almost surely designed, it is worth considering separately the two views combined:

(a) some complex biological systems are surely (i.e., must have been) designed; and 
(b) some complex biological systems are almost surely (i.e., very probably) designed.

It is worth considering them separately because very different sorts of arguments are required to establish each of these claims. Which of (a) or (b) does the following argument support best? …let’s do our own quick calculation [for Russell Doolittle’s idea about the evolution of the blood clotting mechanism]. Consider that animals with blood-clotting cascades have roughly 10,000 genes, each of which is divided into an average of three pieces. This gives a total of about 30,000 gene pieces. TPA [Tissue Plasminogen Activator] has four different types of domains. By “variously shuffling,” the odds of getting those four domains together is 1 in 30,0004, which is approximately 10-18. Now, if the Irish Sweepstakes had odds of winning of 10-18, and if a million people played the lottery each year, it would take an average of about 1012 years before anyone (not just a particular person) won the lottery.… Doolittle apparently needs to shuffle and deal himself a number of perfect bridge hands to win the game. (from ID Creationist Michael Behe) Select one: a. (a), because if (a) is shown, then (b) follows, and it is better to show both since generality is a virtue of hypotheses b. Because IDC is accepted on faith by many people, no arguments are ever needed to support either of the two claims. c. -both (a) and (b), because there’s no difference between being that improbable (one out of 10 to the eighteenth power!) and being impossible d. (b), assuming that if a system’s being very unlikely to come about by chance, then that system is very likely designed

 

 

20) While the most systematic theories are rich in all of the virtues, it is sometimes reasonable to sacrifice some of one virtue for a gain in another. Which of the following yields a good example of a reasonable “trade-off” between conservatism and generality? Select one: a. Super-acupuncture vs. Chinese acupuncture b. the Bible vs. the Malleus Malleficarum c. phrenology d. the Scientific Creationist hypothesis that the universe is less than 20,000 years old

 

 

21) .. [A]n astrologer cannot justify the values of the aspects [houses, signs, planets, etc.] in the same way that a chemist or physicist can justify the ordering of the elements in the periodic table. … they will not be real reasons at all, but rather rationales which work mostly by manipulating association and analogy…. answers to these sorts of “why” questions can tell us much about the mind-set and world construction of ancient astrology. But they can never justify the meanings attributed to its terms and relations. In the end all that can be said is that the meanings are so and not otherwise because astrologers have agreed that they are so and not otherwise. Roger Beck, A Brief History of Ancient Astrology (Blackwell Publishing, 2007), pp. 40-41.

Beck’s point can be seen as a generalization of some remarks made in “Astrology,” in the paragraph mentioning Mars and Neptune. For example, as the “home” of the ancient god of the oceans, Neptune is associated with water and by further analogy also with indecisiveness. According to Beck, astrology cannot justify these associations. This suggests a way of repairing the fourth criticism of astrology by revising it as follows:

(*) Astrology is a pseudoscience because it is in large part based on observations of analogies between aspects of nature, and astrology cannot justify these analogies.

What’s wrong with this criticism (*) as an attempt to show that astrology is a pseudoscience? Select one: a. Beck relies on an analogy himself when he says that astrological claims cannot be justified in the same way as are claims in chemistry and physics that rely on the periodic table. In saying this, he assumes that there is a disanalogy between astrology and real science. b. There could be scientific theories that rely on enlightening and instructive analogies but which themselves do not have the resources to justify those analogies. c. Beck makes the same mistake as is made in criticizing astrology as an excuse-generator for the missed predictions of astrologers. When he says “because astrologers have agreed that … ” he is criticizing the proponents of a theory and not the theory itself.

 

 

d. This proposal ignores the fact that astrology is also in large part concerned with making accurate astronomical observations where analogy is not involved. 22) Any theory that 13. did not originate in ancient superstitions; 14. has changed significantly since it was first developed; 15. is not about what’s known to be physically impossible and instead 16. talks about phenomena that are likely to occur and for which there

are known physical mechanisms; 17. depends on reliable sources of information about those phenomena; 18. has been tested and is thus testable; 19. is not dogmatically held by anyone; 20. has a recognized social role; 21. employs precisely defined concepts; 22. offers no purpose-directed explanations; 23. is not about the ultimate origin of the universe; 24. proposes laws of nature; 25. has simplicity, generality and conservatism; and 26. is internally consistent would be highly scientific. Select one: True False 23) Given what he says about evolutionary theory in Abusing Science, Kitcher would agree that evolutionary theory is a theory in the sense defined in the Dover County School Board’s disclaimer: “A theory is defined as a well-tested explanation that unifies a broad range of observations.” Select one: True False

 

 

24) Which of the following reasons is the best reason for rejecting the claim that, “During the last fifty years, some people have been shown to have some sort of ‘ESP’.”?

Select one: a. Despite a great deal of effort during the last 130 years or so, no properly designed and analyzed experiment has ever provided any evidence that some people have ‘ESP’. b. ESP has been shown to be inconsistent with the known laws of nature. c. According to the standard of systematicity (“Phrenology,” RSLM) and the roughly equivalent standards in Chapter 2 of Abusing Science, parapsychology is highly pseudoscientific. d. The subject-defining concept of “ESP” has no clear characterization.

 

 

25) Demonic possession and miraculous events are both examples of paranormal phenomena. Parapsychology is the study of paranormal phenomena. A careful look at the data shows that despite many years of trying, not a single properly performed experiment has shown the existence of any paranormal phenomena. So there is no reason to accept any of the claims of Angelic Science or Scientific Creationism. What is a good reason to reject this line of reasoning? Select one: a. It trivializes religious belief to consign spiritual phenomena to parapsychology which is after all a common example of pseudoscience. b. Parapsychology’s failure may indicate a failure to look for such occurrences, or a failure to look in the right way; and there may be independent reasons for any claims made by Angelic Science and Scientific Creationism. c. all of the others. d. Since parapsychology aspires to scientific status, study of religious phenomena is off-limits for it. 26) Ruse and Kitcher would agree that a predictively successful theory with substantial explanatory power should not be rejected at the first sign of evidence against the theory. Select one: True False 27) The aim of science is to discover facts. Select one: True False

 

 

28) The main weakness of naive falsificationism is highlighted by the problem of auxiliary hypotheses. Select one: True False 29) Your true statement “I now see some words” is testable, but since it is obviously true, the statement is not falsifiable. Select one: True False