Monday, June 25, 2007

William Provine On Eminent Evolutionary Scientists Who are Philosophically Unsophisticated

William Provine had this to say about the philosophical sophistication of eminent evolutionary scientists as compared to students in introductory evolution classes, based on a survey:
One of us (Provine) has been thinking about human free will for almost 40 years, has read most of the philosophical literature on the subject and polls his undergraduate evolution class (200-plus students) each year on belief in free will. Year after year, 90 percent or more favor the idea of human free will for a very specific reason: They think that if people make choices, they have free will. The professional debate about free will has moved far from this position, because what counts is whether the choice is free or determined, not whether human beings make choices. People and animals both certainly choose constantly. Comments from the evolutionists suggest that they were equating human choice and human free will. In other words, although eminent, our respondents had not thought about free will much beyond the students in introductory evolution classes.

It is not surprising then that many of these scientists do not understand intelligent design or are even aware of their own a priori philosophical commitments. I support further testing and remedial courses in general philosophy and philosophy of science for all evolutionary scientists, as necessary.

Hat tip to Mike Gene on the article. His comments are here.

Michael Egnor's comments on the same article are here.


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