Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ideal Intelligent Design Conference

johnnyb asked over at UD to make proposals for a mid-level ID conference. Here is my proposal: 

1. Practical, useful applications of ID to hard domains, and hard aspects of other domains: engineering, science, mathematics, economics, politics, psychology. The use of ID must depend unequivocally on ID theory, there must be no way to account for the application other than within an ID paradigm, as formally defined by Dembski's complex specified information. Even better if it is derived from CSI.  Examples: CSIC and stock market predictions.

The emphasis here is something that will make a lot of money/wealth, and unequivocally based on/derived from ID.  This topic should be the primary focus of the conference.  Bonus points if it can be shown ID is the best paradigm for making a lot of money/wealth.

2. New areas of intellectual investigation, new kinds of concepts that ID implies.  Includes solving well defined, hard, unsolved problems, such as problems with epistemology and inductivism in philosophy. Again, previous qualification applies, cannot be accounted for, derived from any other sort of theory.  Examples: linking epistemology to ontology and CSI extracted from natural sciences.

3. Metaphysical, philosophical foundations/implications of ID. I.e. libertarian free will, tensed theory of time (in reference to W. Craig's distinction between A/B theories of time), real contingency, synthetic truths, substance dualism? etc. Bonus points for showing ID is compatible with concepts that are traditionally considered anti-thetical to ID, such as atheism, physicalism, determinism etc.  Examples: atheism and supernaturalism.

4. Debunking faux Intelligent Design concepts. Consists of showing a supposedly ID concept can be accounted for within a paradigm antithetical or ambivalent to ID.  Example: Neoplatonism.

5. Showing existing concepts not already connected to Intelligent Design can only be accounted for within ID.  Examples: capitalism and SETI.

6. Experiments, proposals for practical experiments to falsify/verify ID.  Emphasis will be on experiments that either already have results, or show great promise of generating results within 1 year.  Example: Stylus and CSIC.

I am not interested in using ID as a "metaphor" for concepts that aren't unambiguously implicated by ID. For example, hard-Calvinism would not be ID, even though it would qualify as Creationism. So, in general, the conference would accept anything that can be shown to unambiguously implicate ID, and nothing antithetical nor ambivalent to ID.

This conference is the only way for ID to make true intellectual progress.  It is the only kind of ID conference I am interested in.

Intelligent Design Links Epistemology to Ontology (Part 2)

Part 1 pointed out that while Dr. Searle's Chinese Room Argument may successfully preserve a non-mechanical intuition of intelligence, it does so at the cost of eliminating our ability to detect other intelligences.  The argument saves our mind by beheading us, to put the problem figuratively.

Intelligent Design provides a way for us to sew our heads back onto our bodies.  While the Chinese room shows there is a logical difference between syntax and semantics, there may be more to the story. While semantics cannot be embedded within syntax, syntax may embed the signs of semantics.  In other words, certain syntactical sentences may possess properties that show they contain meaning, even if the signs do not display what the meaning is that is contained.

As an analogy, consider buildings and occupants.  Many different types of occupants can be contained by many different types of buildings, and the building exterior in itself may not tell you anything about its occupants.  This is why we have signs.  The signs tell us that something of interest is contained within the building, even if we might not understand what that something is.

ID makes this very same claim about syntax.  Certain syntactical configurations exhibit a property known as complex specified information.  This property is only exhibited when the configuration is the product of an intelligent agent.  This property cannot tell us, by itself, whether the configuration possesses meaning.  However, since we know only intelligent agents create meaning, it tells us that the configuration may possess meaning.  While we might interpret some product of natural forces to be meaningful, it is not actually intentionally communicating meaning to us.  The communication of meaning is only something that intelligent agents do.

This is how ID sews our heads back on.  Even though it does not give us access to the semantics, it at least is a definitive signpost telling us that minds other than our own exist, and based on introspection, we know that these other minds are capable of and possibly interested in communicating.  Thus, when we perceive meaning in an identified product of intelligent agency, we have good reason to believe that the meaning is real.  And that is how ID allows us to use the exterior syntax of the Chinese room to access interior semantics of the translator's mind.