Koons, Aquinas, and Intelligent Design

Robert Koons and Logan Paul Gage have a defense of ID uploaded, titled St. Thomas Aquinas on Intelligent Design. The article is intended to address specifically theist criticism against ID and to show that ID is perfectly compatible with Thomistic metaphysics.

Up front, on the first page, the critics are identified by name. On the second page, the critical theses have been laid out. This is a very promising straightforward start. Unfortunately, the rest is downhill. While much of the criticism is accurately represented, some of it is not, and the defense with its misguided appeal to science misses crucial points of the criticism. And way too much of the defense simply reiterates ID slogans without actually defending them. And, to top it all, Aquinas is falsely interpreted to mean what he could not have meant. The last point is not too concerning though. Aquinas inevitably has that role in the circles that self-identify as Thomistic, which happens to include both ID critics and advocates.

Thomistic defense of ID by Koons and Gage

My interest was in finding an actual Thomistic or Scholastic defense of ID. Therefore I will ignore most of the mere reiteration of ID talking points in the article, such as appeals to science that cannot convince anyone but those already converted to the ID cause and that don’t really address what theist critics criticize about ID. Spoiler: That’s the bulk of the article.

However, I found what I was looking for: Aquinas’ doctrine of exemplar causation. It’s represented in the article as follows.

An exemplar cause is a type of formal cause—a sort of blueprint; the idea according to which something is organized. For Thomas, these ideas exist separately from the things they cause. For instance, if a boy is going to build a soap-box derby car, the idea in his mind is separate from the form of the car; yet the car’s form expresses the idea, or exemplar cause, in the boy’s mind. Herein lies the important point: for Thomas, a creature’s form comes from a similar form in the divine intellect. In other words, the cause of each species’ form is extrinsic. In fact, writes Thomas, “God is the first exemplar cause of all things” (p. 84-85 = p. 6-7 of the pdf)

The article says that the critics fail to mention this doctrine. That’s true. As far as I have followed the debate, exemplar causation has been mentioned only once by an ID critic in the debate, namely by Edward Feser (ID critic) when he says Vincent Torley’s (ID apologist) understanding of it is “worse than tenuous”. The rest of the mentions of exemplar causes I have seen in the debate are employed by the defenders of ID.

However, the problem with this defense is that it remains metaphysical and never touches on the physics and biology of design that ID is supposed to be about. Appeal to exemplar causes, while being relevant to Thomistic understanding of design, has no direct relevance to ID as an empirical theory whose mission is to measurably detect stuff. At least no advocate ever managed to clarify the connection to me and this article is no exception.

The real thrust of criticism

The thrust of theist criticism against ID is this: Teleology is beyond the empirical world. It cannot be measured or detected as a cause of this or that. Formal causes do not create or generate things and events, but rather “inform” things (with purpose, i.e. function, both intrinsic, special and contextual; it’s not a separately examinable part or appendage, like souls are often imagined to be separable ghosts). For example, a formal cause does not cause a dog to be, but rather determines what a dog is, what qualifies as a (natural or normal) dog and what doesn’t. The thrust of theist criticism against ID is meant to point out this category error between empirical and unempirical causation. The latter (namely, unempirical causation in Aristotelian metaphysics) would likely correspond to a “category” or “taxonomy” in scientific terminology. As long as ID fails to comply with the scientific terminology, it is doomed to remain a pseudoscience. And as long as ID trivializes Scholastic metaphysics, assuming empiricism where there is none, it is rightly criticized by Thomists and Scholastics.

This crucial criticism is sadly misrepresented in the article, sometimes subtly, sometimes grossly. For example, the article complains about the critics’ obsession with secondary causation (as distinguished from direct causation by God whereas, as rightly pointed out in the article, Thomas has no problem with direct causation) and aversion to God’s intervention and miracles. In reality, critics have no such obsessions and aversions. Instead, the criticism is that God’s direct intervention and miracles remain empirically undetectable after the fact. God’s intervention is indistinguishable from natural causes, because God is the author of natural causation. Intervention or miracles would be no different from natural causes, because God’s action is a single timeless act (a.k.a. pure actuality): When God acts, the outcome is most natural, nature itself.

Take a particular miracle such as raising Lazarus from the dead. After the raising, would modern physicians be able determine after examination, “Yup, God did it.” or “This is caused by design, not by natural causes”? No. There would be no empirical signs of miraculous intervention after the fact. And, incidentally, this is not how the Catholic Church goes about determining miracles. Yet this is how ID apparently proposes to proceed.

After all this, the article turns and says “ID is a very minimal claim which does not require intervention.” (p. 85 = p. 7 in the pdf) Then why all that accusation of critics with their obsessions and aversions concerning the matter?

Where did ID go this wrong?

There are other fundamental problems with ID theory that become evident in the article, mainly conceptual. For example, it’s never clear what is meant by “design”. Is it a cause or an effect? At one point, Behe is quoted definitionally, “Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts” and Dembski is claimed to have pointed out that Paley “made no appeal to miracles in the production of design.” (p. 85-86) So, if design is a production and an arrangement, it seems to be more like an effect. Yet there’s the rampant “caused by design” assertion in the ID community as we know it (from UD, originally Dembski’s forum). The article does not mention it. Dembski uses (at UD: Resources/ID defined) the term “intelligent cause” which is supposed to “best explain” “certain features of the universe and of living things” (the same as “design”?) while the relation between design and intelligence is never explained. That’s a problem created by, or at least amplified by, Dembski, I’d say.

Another is the term “irreducible complexity”. The article defends the term citing Aquinas.

Contrary to the claims of Feser (2010, 154–155), the presence of complexity is relevant to Aquinas’s argument for design:… It is impossible for things contrary and discordant to fall into one harmo-
nious order
always or for the most part, except under some one guidance… (p. 86, underline in the original)

Now, does everybody agree with the implication that “one harmonious order” means something even remotely akin to “complexity”? Didn’t think so. The article is full of such misapplied quotes from Aquinas. They can be hunted for fun when reading. “Complexity” is like a square peg to a round hole when it comes to Scholastic metaphysics with its doctrine of divine simplicity. This is a problem invented by Behe.

Conclusion

The conclusion of the article says that “The Thomistic critics of ID understand neither ID nor the heart of Darwinian evolution… ID is not a competing metaphysical system for the simple reason that it is not a metaphysical system.” (p. 91-92 = p. 13-14 in the pdf) I’d say that if ID can be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, then it must be a metaphysical system, except that it demonstrably cannot be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, so it’s evidently something else. My conclusion is that ID is indefensible due to conceptual inconsistencies stemming from the fact that its advocates and apologists never figured out whether it’s a metaphysics or a science. Unfortunately, pace KN, metaphysics and science are two distinct worlds and need to be sorted out before engaging in either one.

271 thoughts on “Koons, Aquinas, and Intelligent Design”

  1. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    I only read your post, not the article you’re commenting on, but I just want to say, I really liked it. In particular I liked your emphasis on the conceptual incompatibilities between ID and Thomism. Quite frankly I’ve always understood ID in terms of a basically mechanistic metaphysics, so trying to reconcile it with Thomism is a classic case of putting a square peg in a round hole.

    I’d say that if ID can be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, then it must be a metaphysical system, except that it demonstrably cannot be defended by means of Thomist metaphysics, so it’s evidently something else. My conclusion is that ID is indefensible due to conceptual inconsistencies stemming from the fact that its advocates and apologists never figured out whether it’s a metaphysics or a science.

    Agreement with that!

    Unfortunately, pace KN, metaphysics and science are two distinct worlds and need to be sorted out before engaging in either one.

    Just to clarify: I do think that metaphysics and science are distinct. I just don’t think that they are best done in isolation from each other. Rather, I think the best metaphysics takes science seriously and the best science takes metaphysics seriously. But I don’t want to taken over this thread, which should be focused on the relation between Thomism and ID. I just wanted to clarify my own position here.

  2. GlenDavidson

    I think the main problem is that ID has to be all things, metaphysics and science, because it has to be the big tent for YECs, for Catholics with some exposure to Aquinas, and for everyone in between.

    Attacking “evolutionism” is also their major activity, not working out what ID is and how it might become a coherent science or metaphysics. Hence this is all just an after-thought, “of course we’re fine with Thomistic metaphysics.” From their viewpoint, of course they are, only they’re also fine with both Flood Geology and Deep Time as well. There is no attempt to be coherent and methodical, just the desire to encompass the theologies of their supporters.

    Glen Davidson

  3. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    There’s also a nice bit of projection going on with the ID people. From their point of view, it is the “evolutionists” who are guilty of conflating science and metaphysics, by dogmatically imposing metaphysical materialism rather than being good empiricists who ‘follow the evidence wherever it leads’.

  4. Erik Post author

    GlenDavidson: Attacking “evolutionism” is also their major activity, not working out what ID is and how it might become a coherent science or metaphysics. Hence this is all just an after-thought, “of course we’re fine with Thomistic metaphysics.”

    This may describe Dembski, but should not be applicable to Koons who comes from the A-T metaphysics side of things. I understand what makes shallow evangelicals go along with ID, and anybody else emotive, but when a professional philosopher does it, I don’t know. No rational reason can be detected in the article, so what’s left is an irrational reason.

    Dembski had a wonderful plan, “Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.” This is a theological grand mission. Unfortunately it required some grasp of information theory, which he evidently does not have. Nor do I trust his exegesis of John.

  5. vjtorley

    Hi Erik,

    Thank you for your interesting article. I’d like to make a few comments.

    You mention that philosopher Edward Feser has described my understanding of certain aspects of Thomistic philosophy as “worse than tenuous.”

    I have had run-ins with Edward Feser before on the subject of Intelligent Design. That’s old news. However, Feser has never responded to my five-part series, “St. Thomas Aquinas and his Fifteen Smoking Guns,” which was written as an expose of “the pretentious claims of self-styled “Thomists” who have argued that Intelligent Design is completely at odds with St. Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy.” Nor has Professor Michael Tkacz, the Thomist philosopher who was the chief target of my criticisms.

    Here it is. I would invite you to examine the evidence from Aquinas’ own writings, and decide for yourself:

    Part 1: St. Thomas Aquinas and his Fifteen Smoking Guns (Summary here.)
    Part 2: Why Aquinas and Darwin don’t mix.
    Part 3: Why Aquinas’ views on Scripture would have prevented him from becoming a Darwinist.
    Part 4: A Response to Professor Tkacz’s paper, “Thomas Aquinas vs. The Intelligent Designers.”
    Part 5: The Mind of God.

    Nor has Feser ever responded to this piece of mine:

    Feser’s Fifth: Why his up-to-date version of Aquinas’ Fifth Way fails as a proof, and how to make it work
    (Reading the Executive Summary should suffice to convey the gist of the article.)

    Now to your other comments. You write:

    Appeal to exemplar causes, while being relevant to Thomistic understanding of design, has no direct relevance to ID as an empirical theory whose mission is to measurably detect stuff. At least no advocate ever managed to clarify the connection to me and this article is no exception.

    If you are talking about ideas in the mind of the Designer, then obviously these are empirically undetectable, and ID has never claimed to be able to detect them. What ID claims to be able to empirically detect are features of objects which point to their having been produced by a Mind of some sort. That’s the idea behind the design inference (see below).

    By the way, ID doesn’t detect “stuff.” It’s interested in form, not matter.

    You add:

    The thrust of theist criticism against ID is this: Teleology is beyond the empirical world. It cannot be measured or detected as a cause of this or that. Formal causes do not create or generate things and events, but rather “inform” things…

    No Aristotelian or Thomist would agree with your Kantian claim that teleology is beyond the empirical world. For Aristotle, final causes were the most obvious causes of all, and Aquinas, following Aristotle, even referred to a substance’s final cause as the “cause of causes” (scroll down to paragraph 186), because it is needed in order to render the other causes (efficient, formal and material) intelligible. If the final cause were not the first cause in the order of generation, the efficient cause would have no end toward which to act, and agents only act toward one end. Hearts are for pumping blood. If that’s not an empirical fact, then I don’t know what is. Your definition of “empirical” strikes me as ridiculously narrow: you seem to be thinking of things like laboratory measurements.

    As for formal causes: to the best of my knowledge, no ID theorist has ever claimed that “forms” as such bring about anything. That’s just bogus: it confuses formal and efficient causality. Certainly I’ve never made such a bizarre claim. Instead, ID theorists argue that functional specified complexity is best explained as the product of an intelligent agent – i.e. what Aristotle would call an efficient cause, not a final cause. Here’s the standard definition of ID:

    “The theory of intelligent design (ID) holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause rather than an undirected process such as natural selection.”

    And if that’s not clear enough for you, here’s a quote from the glossary of William Dembski & Jonathan Wells’ best-selling book, The Design of Life (Foundation for thought and Ethics, Dallas, 2008, p. 312):

    design (as process A four-part process by which a DESIGNER forms a designed object: (1) A designer conceives a purpose. (2) To accomplish that purpose, the designer forms a plan. (3) To execute the plan, the designer specifies building materials and assembly instructions. (4) The designer or some surrogate applies the assembly instructions to the building materials. What emerges is a designed object. The designer is successful to the degree that the object fulfills the designer’s purpose.

    designer An intelligent agent that arranges material structures to accomplish a purpose. Whether this agent is personal or impersonal, conscious or unconscious, part of nature or beyond nature, active through miraculous interventions or through ordinary physical causes are all possibilities within the theory of INTELLIGENT DESIGN. In particular, the designer need not be a CREATOR.

    See that? Design requires a “designer,” and a designer is an “intelligent agent.” I rest my case.

    You continue:

    Instead, the criticism [of ID] is that God’s direct intervention and miracles remain empirically undetectable after the fact. God’s intervention is indistinguishable from natural causes, because God is the author of natural causation. Intervention or miracles would be no different from natural causes, because God’s action is a single timeless act (a.k.a. pure actuality): When God acts, the outcome is most natural, nature itself.

    Sorry, but Aquinas would have disagreed with you on this point. In his Summa Contra Gentiles Book III, chapter 99, paragraph 9 (That God Can Work Apart From The Order Implanted In Things, By Producing Effects Without Proximate Causes), he declares:

    “[D]ivine power can sometimes produce an effect, without prejudice to its providence, apart from the order implanted in natural things by God. In fact, He does this at times to manifest His power. For it can be manifested in no better way, that the whole of nature is subject to the divine will, than by the fact that sometimes He does something outside the order of nature. Indeed, this makes it evident that the order of things has proceeded from Him, not by natural necessity, but by free will.

    Here, Aquinas says that God’s power and voluntary agency “can be manifested in no better way … than by the fact that He sometimes does something outside the order of nature.” I conclude that he would have had no qualms whatsoever about appealing to supernatural effects, in order to convince skeptics of God’s existence.

    You then add:

    Take a particular miracle such as raising Lazarus from the dead. After the raising, would modern physicians be able determine after examination, “Yup, God did it.” or “This is caused by design, not by natural causes”? No. There would be no empirical signs of miraculous intervention after the fact.

    If you look at a body that’s been restored to life, without being told that it was previously dead, then of course you won’t know that a miracle happened. But if you witnessed a dead man being restored to life (or better yet, videotaped it), then the inference to a miraculous explanation is pretty straightforward.

    Once again, you contradict Aquinas here. In his Summa Theologica I q. 91, article 2, reply to objection 3 (Whether the human body was immediately produced by God?), Aquinas refers to “changes that surpass the order of nature, and are caused by the Divine Power alone, as for the dead to be raised to life, or the blind to see: like to which also is the making of man from the slime of the earth.

    In his Summa Theologica I, q. 92 art. 4 (Whether the woman was formed immediately by God?), Aquinas further declares: “Now God alone, the Author of nature, can produce an effect into existence outside the ordinary course of nature. Therefore God alone could produce either a man from the slime of the earth, or a woman from the rib of man.

    And in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II chapter 43, paragraph 6 (That the distinction of things is not caused by some secondary agent introducing forms into matter), Aquinas argues that the forms of the very first animals “must of necessity proceed from the Creator alone” – at least, for those animals that are “generated only from seed.” (In Aquinas’s day, it was mistakenly believed that the lower or “imperfect” animals didn’t need to be “generated form seed,” but could arise spontaneously from inanimate matter.)

    You continue:

    There are other fundamental problems with ID theory that become evident in the article, mainly conceptual. For example, it’s never clear what is meant by “design”. Is it a cause or an effect? At one point, Behe is quoted definitionally, “Design is simply the purposeful arrangement of parts” and Dembski is claimed to have pointed out that Paley “made no appeal to miracles in the production of design.” (p. 85-86) So, if design is a production and an arrangement, it seems to be more like an effect. Yet there’s the rampant “caused by design” assertion in the ID community as we know it (from UD, originally Dembski’s forum).

    “Rampant”? Rampant?? Where did you get this one? The phrase “caused by design” only turns up twice in Uncommon Descent, in a stray comment by kairosfocus in 2015, and in another stray comment by kairosfocus in 2011, and it both cases, it obviously means “caused intentionally,” not “caused by a pattern.” I’ve never used the phrase, “caused by design.” You’re attacking a straw man.

    Commenting on Koons and Gage’s claims to have found an ID-style argument in the writings of Aquinas, you write:

    Now, does everybody agree with the implication that “one harmonious order” means something even remotely akin to “complexity”? Didn’t think so. The article is full of such misapplied quotes from Aquinas.

    I’m afraid you haven’t been looking in the right places. Elsewhere, Aquinas does appeal to the complexity of what he calls “perfect animals,” when explaining why the first specimens of these animals could not have been generated by natural causes. You can find a detailed explanation of the argument here.

    First, Aquinas regarded perfect animals as more complex than other animals, in terms of their bodily organs and their anatomy. In his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II chapter 72, paragraph 5 (That The Soul Is In The Whole Body and Each Of Its Parts), he writes:

    “Now, the higher and simpler a form is, the greater is its power; and that is why the soul, which is the highest of the lower forms, though simple in substance, has a multiplicity of powers and many operations. The soul, then, needs various organs in order to perform its operations, and of these organs the soul’s various powers are said to be the proper acts; sight of the eye, hearing of the ears, etc. For this reason perfect animals have the greatest diversity of organs; plants, the least.”

    Aquinas then explains why inanimate forces – even heavenly bodies, which were then believed to play a vital role in animal reproduction – are incapable of generating these “perfect” animals in his Summa Theologica I, q. 91 art. 2, Reply to Objection 2 (Whether the human body was immediately produced by God):

    “Reply to Objection 2. Perfect animals, produced from seed, cannot be made by the sole power of a heavenly body, as Avicenna imagined… But the power of heavenly bodies suffices for the production of some imperfect animals from properly disposed matter: for it is clear that more conditions are required to produce a perfect than an imperfect thing.

    As we saw above, the reason why more conditions are required to produce perfect animals is that these animals have more complex body parts, partly due to their possession of several senses, but also because of the demands of their active lifestyle.

    In other words, what Aquinas is doing here is sketching an Intelligent Design argument: the complexity of perfect animals’ body parts and the high degree of specificity required to produce them preclude them from having a non-biological origin. The only way in which their forms can be naturally generated is from the father’s “seed,” according to Aquinas. (We now know that both parents contribute genetic information that helps build the form of the embryo, but that doesn’t alter Aquinas’ key point.) From this it follows that the first “perfect animals” must have been produced by God alone.

    To cap it all, in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II chapter 43, paragraph 6 (That the distinction of things is not caused by some secondary agent introducing forms into matter), Aquinas draws precisely this conclusion. Here’s a brief excerpt:

    “…[A]ll motion toward form is brought about through the mediation of the heavenly motion… There are, however, many sensible forms which cannot be produced by the motion of the heaven except through the intermediate agency of certain determinate principles pre-supposed to their production; certain animals, for example, are generated only from seed. Therefore, the primary establishment of these forms, for producing which the motion of the heaven does not suffice without their pre-existence in the species, must of necessity proceed from the Creator alone.

    Q.E.D.

    Finally, you write:

    My conclusion is that ID is indefensible due to conceptual inconsistencies stemming from the fact that its advocates and apologists never figured out whether it’s a metaphysics or a science.

    I would say that ID is a science which can also be defended in Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical terms, by those thinkers who are so inclined. However, an ID researcher working in the lab doesn’t need to know anything about Aristotle’s philosophy, in order to do ID research.

    As readers of this blog will know, I have come to the conclusion, during the last few months, that many of ID’s scientific claims in the field of biology are false. That doesn’t alter the nature of ID as a science: all it means is that ID’s scientific hypotheses rest on insufficient evidence. Were I convinced that the biological evidence was sufficient, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to becoming an ID advocate.

    There are valid scientific objections against ID, but the theological and philosophical objections strike me as pretentious and tiresome.

  6. Neil Rickert

    I’m have not read the linked article. And I don’t know a lot about Thomism. But, generally speaking, the Thomist criticism of ID seems reasonable.

    Personally, I have no objections at all to “Intelligent Design” as a philosophical idea. But the problem with ID, is that the ID proponents insist that it is science. My main objections to ID, are to the claim that it is science.

    I see that KN has already made this point. Much of what the ID community argues, has the effect of making ID a very mechanistic theory — and this from people who are philosophically and theologically opposed to mechanistic views. They seem to have a blind spot about this. And I see the Thomist criticism of ID is mostly a criticism of that mechanistic basis for ID.

  7. colewd

    vjtorley,

    If you are talking about ideas in the mind of the Designer, then obviously these are empirically undetectable, and ID has never claimed to be able to detect them. What ID claims to be able to empirically detect are features of objects which point to their having been produced by a Mind of some sort. That’s the idea behind the design inference (see below).

    What in your opinion is the best argument that things in nature that appear designed are indeed not designed?

  8. Gregory

    “I have no objections at all to ‘Intelligent Design’ as a philosophical idea.”

    As a philosophical idea, Discovery Institute’s ‘intelligent design theory’ is mangled muck. Meyer’s doctoral dissertation at Cambridge HPS is an example – a big fat OOPS at the start to build his utopian dreams on! DI insists ID is ‘strictly scientific’, which means not primarily ‘philosophical idea’ unless it suits their purpose to parade as such.

    But when you properly capitalise ‘Intelligent Design’, as vjtorley for a couple of years already now repeatedly does (I had made it clear at UD they were being BIG-little letter flip-floppers – intelligent design / Intelligent Design), then it is undeniably a theological idea, as it undeniably is for vjtorley, not a philosophical one. Would anyone like to know if vjtorley has checked the number of times the term ‘design’ (not Design) is used in the vernacular Scripture he reads at home? Of course vjtorley’s ‘Intelligent Design’ is a THEISTIC proposition.

    vjtorley’s supposed ‘philosophical’ defense of IDism is UD blog-worthy, nothing more. Feser is surely correct to ignore Torley after having removed all doubt what difference doing serious, professional philosophy makes from teaching language & hawking IDist ideology online as a hobby (a USA-creationism inspired philosophistic pastime). If vjtorley wants to elevate, leaving here, just as he did UD, will be required. (But you gotta take that seattle sock finally out of your mouth!)

    The capitalisation of ‘Intelligent Design’ cannot be made official by the DI because that would give away the game. They are idiots; not stupid, knowing where the protestant creationist money comes from that they continue (now w/out Dembski & Luskin) to survive on. So they play two-tongued talkers & deceivers – hype it up big-time like ID Revolution baby! – with very bestest of congregation intentions (like slippery Sal) – yet at the same time bringing due and sadly deserved ridicule upon the evangelicals they represent, including Mung, from the remainder of the Abrahamic theists who have seen through their ignorance-capitalism song and dance. : (

    Why would vjtorley want to dance to that music anymore?

  9. Gregory

    “I wouldn’t hesitate to return to becoming an ID advocate.”

    LOL vjtorley. Thought you were healing, until seeing such fluff. You are still apologising for ID.

  10. Gregory

    Erik, nice piece! I agree with the main thrust & came to the same conclusions a couple of years ago reading it. The Thomists are well ahead of the evangelicals on this, the latter among whom vjtorley fits much more comfortably than with his actual thoughtful & balanced Catholic brothers & sisters.

    “The thrust of theist criticism against ID is this: Teleology is beyond the empirical world.”

    Teleology is in the ’empirical world’; it’s a question of how teleology can be studied and applied reflexively that is hot. Teleology as real as a-teleology in the natural world. In the human-social world, teleology simply cannot be avoided. And the conversation is not biologists-first – it is more properly biologists way near the back please because the issue of one of a Movement causing havoc amidst the ‘opening of the evangelical mind’ as seen in such venues as BioLogos, which is not simply “teleology is non-empirical.”

    What kind of ‘theist’ are you, Erik? A general answer is likely enough. I ask because you don’t seem to be an evangelical Protestant Christian. But you don’t seem like anything specific either. Zoroastrian? Baha’i? Ismaili?

    Muslims have not exactly been promotional of IDism. When it comes to occasionalism vs. concurrentism, IDists seem to hold either against conservationism.

    The main criticisms of IDism by Abrahamic theists that I’ve read or spoken with is bad science, bad theology, bad philosophy combined with spectacular & well-documented double-talk, hypocritically aggressive & polemical PR, and finally, allowing YECists to remain in their ‘big tent’ while they still have the gall to claim to promote ‘good science’.

    “God’s intervention is indistinguishable from natural causes, because God is the author of natural causation.”

    There are dual dangers here of pantheism or panentheism and likewise, it heads directly back to the occasionalism debates of the 16th century.

    “Unfortunately, pace KN, metaphysics and science are two distinct worlds and need to be sorted out before engaging in either one.”

    Boo hoo to both of you exclusivists then (one too cowardly even to face a ‘more-than-natural’ real world than his cloud atlas fetish) who can’t live harmoniously in more than 2 ‘worlds’ at the same time. : (

    Why not sort both out while engaging both instead of putting them in nice little packages, easy to philologise about, but little more constructive than that?

  11. RobinRobin

    Neil Rickert:
    I’m have not read the linked article.And I don’t know a lot about Thomism.But, generally speaking, the Thomist criticism of ID seems reasonable.

    Personally, I have no objections at all to “Intelligent Design” as a philosophical idea.But the problem with ID, is that the ID proponents insist that it is science.My main objections to ID, are to the claim that it is science.

    I see that KN has already made this point.Much of what the ID community argues, has the effect of making ID a very mechanistic theory — and this from people who are philosophically and theologically opposed to mechanistic views.They seem to have a blind spot about this.And I see the Thomistcriticism of ID is mostly a criticism of that mechanistic basis for ID.

    I agree with this and KN’s assessment. In principle I have no problem with a generalized philosophical concept one might call “ID”. But I roll my eyes the moment someone tries to argue it’s scientifically viable. For one thing, actual science – a scientific perspective as it were – starts with a desire to try to understand something about some observed phenomenon. In contrast, ID is pretty much based on a completely opposite perspective: try to detect phenomena that in some way indicate some alignment with a predefined understanding (that intelligence is required for the existence of complex things). In so doing, ID has no ability to make any sort of prediction and, more importantly from my perspective, can offer nothing practical to any human activity.

    Think of all the activities that science has had a hand in either creating outright or improving: medicine, flight (well…transportation in general), communication, air quality, water quality, athletics, longevity, food preparation and quality, food production (agriculture), breeding and animal husbandry, manufacturing, etc, etc, etc, and etc…

    What does ID offer? I can’t think of single thing that it could possibly offer, but maybe someone else will chime in. But the fact remains, you can’t get to the moon based on anything ID offers. You couldn’t get a cellphone (or even two tin cans and a string for that matter). You couldn’t get medication improvements, medical equipment technological improvements, or even better medical procedures or treatments.

    If ID is really nothing more than a criticism of some elements of some specific scientific field, then it is truly of no value. If, however, some of it’s proponents begin to work on how to refine it as a philosophical perspective, it might actual become something worth engaging in.

  12. Erik Post author

    vjtorley:
    I have had run-ins with Edward Feser before on the subject of Intelligent Design. That’s old news. However, Feser has never responded to my five-part series.

    If you recall the history, there’s no “however” about it. After the discussion with you that devolved into something quite silly, he publicly made the promise not to engage (with you) further on the topic. Then you composed your series. He simply behaved.

    vjtorley:
    Here it is. I would invite you to examine the evidence from Aquinas’ own writings, and decide for yourself:

    I have examined it, lightly. I have examined the discussion that led up to it more closely. Yes, Aquinas says things, but none of it is relevant to the ID theory.

    I agree with Feser: There’s a radical distinction and irreconcilable difference between Paleyan design and Scholastic design, both as concepts and as arguments. I’d add that there was a further step towards the worse when Dembski became the curator of the ID movement and cast it as if science, resulting in lots of damage to the reputation of Christians as participants in science community, philosophy of science and of religion, Aristotelian and Platonist metaphysics, etc. Luckily all this mess is limited to North America and I live far from it. So do you, so you shouldn’t worry too much.

    Unfortunately I am not the right person to be extended an invitation concerning a discussion over Aquinas. I have no affiliation with the A-T school. I would never defend Aquinas (not per se anyway) or decide things (purely) based on what he has to say. In the OP, I am only concerned with laying open the dispute between (anti-ID) A-T philosophers and ID proponents as an instructive example. My own personal objections to ID do not stem from A-T metaphysics, even though there are common points insofar as Scholasticism is one tradition.

    And your attempt to correct my understanding of ID is… Well, okay, let’s see what comes of it.

    vjtorley:
    By the way, ID doesn’t detect “stuff.” It’s interested in form, not matter.

    Then “detect” is the wrong word, isn’t it? Later you object to “caused by design”. How about “detecting design”? That concept is defended in the article, p. 90.

    vjtorley:
    No Aristotelian or Thomist would agree with your Kantian claim that teleology is beyond the empirical world. … Hearts are for pumping blood. If that’s not an empirical fact, then I don’t know what is.

    Supposing that you’re right, then what does this do to salvage ID? Will you convince your regular Darwinist also that hearts are for pumping blood by citing Aristotle and Aquinas? Because, you see, if ID theory is science, then it’s not your job to convince me or Feser, who have nothing to do with science. Your job is to convince the critical mass of biologists.

    But I don’t think you are quite right. In my view, if natural life depends on circulation of blood, then blood must be circulated. A heart may do it or something else will. Yes, the final cause must be served, but it’s not so self-evident that a particular organ must serve a particular final cause. Different species may have the same organ (the same in terms of comparative anatomy) fulfilling a different function. Some organs seem to be residues with no immediately apparent purpose, at least the scientific community is puzzled occasionally. So it’s not a matter of straightforward empirical observation.

    vjtorley:
    As for formal causes: to the best of my knowledge, no ID theorist has ever claimed that “forms” as such bring about anything. That’s just bogus: it confuses formal and efficient causality. Certainly I’ve never made such a bizarre claim. Instead, ID theorists argue that functional specified complexity is best explained as the product of an intelligent agent – i.e. what Aristotle would call an efficient cause, not a final cause. Here’s the standard definition of ID:

    This presupposes that you can successfully clarify and defend the “complexity” term, demonstrate that “intelligent agent” has the connection to it that you claim it has and then that the ID theory can detect all that, complexity or the agent or whichever. Nobody has seen any of this. And we would never see any of this, if the critics of ID are right. But you can go ahead and prove me wrong now. Calculate the complexity of an object of your choice and explain the relation of the calculation to an intelligent agent. You know a few who have attempted this, don’t you?

    vjtorley:
    And if that’s not clear enough for you, here’s a quote from the glossary of William Dembski & Jonathan Wells’ best-selling book, The Design of Life (Foundation for thought and Ethics, Dallas, 2008, p. 312):

    See that? Design requires a “designer,” and a designer is an “intelligent agent.” I rest my case.

    Yes, I have seen it before. I have seen the words many times before, but can anyone demonstrate it? What are we supposed to be seeing when we see (or detect) a “designer” or “intelligent agent”? What is the scientific relevance of those terms? The entire TSZ audience would sigh with relief if you can answer this.

    vjtorley:
    Here, Aquinas says that God’s power and voluntary agency “can be manifested in no better way … than by the fact that He sometimes does something outside the order of nature.” I conclude that he would have had no qualms whatsoever about appealing to supernatural effects, in order to convince skeptics of God’s existence.

    This becomes relevant to science (or ID) as soon as such a manifestation is discovered and can be examined. Until then, it remains a matter of faith, a statement confined to theology.

    vjtorley:
    If you look at a body that’s been restored to life, without being told that it was previously dead, then of course you won’t know that a miracle happened. But if you witnessed a dead man being restored to life (or better yet, videotaped it), then the inference to a miraculous explanation is pretty straightforward.

    Koons’ article says, in response to the critical charges that ID trivialises miracles and theology, “ID is a very minimal claim which does not require intervention.” Yet according to you, IDists would ideally detect miracles by videotaping them and follow it up with a pretty straightforward inference to a miraculous explanation.

    Do I have to explain the ridiculousness of this from the scientific point of view? Do I have to explain the gravity of this from the spiritual point of view? I’m not directly interested in Aquinas, and neither should you, insofar as defense of ID as a scientific theory matters, so I’ll omit the rest of references to Aquinas.

    vjtorley:
    “Rampant”? Rampant?? Where did you get this one? The phrase “caused by design” only turns up twice in Uncommon Descent, in a stray comment by kairosfocus in 2015, and in another stray comment by kairosfocus in 2011, and it both cases, it obviously means “caused intentionally,” not “caused by a pattern.” I’ve never used the phrase, “caused by design.” You’re attacking a straw man.

    I got it from KF. And when KF says something at UD, it’s authoritative. Or else you’re banned or at least a Darwinist or postmodernist who twist logic into pretzels. He didn’t use the term just twice. He repeats it over and over, with variations.

    For example, “FSCO/I, as common as fishing reels and DNA data strings, is real, relevant and on trillions of cases known to be routinely caused by design. The ONLY actually observed cause is design, intelligently directed configuration. Until factors of blind chance and necessity demonstrate such capability, they are not even serious candidates — which per the blind needle in haystack search challenge is maximally unlikely.” http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/kf-vs-vs-on-how-intelligently-directed-configuration-does-not-sneak-teleology-into-directed/#comment-554204

    “FSCO/I is quite recognisable and observable antecedent to any metric models, as happened historically, with Orgel and Wicken. It surrounds us in a world of technology. Consistently, it is observed to be caused by design, by intelligently directed configuration. Trillions of cases in point.”

    “We all routinely recognise FSCO/I and infer design as cause, cf posts in this thread where we generally have no independent, before the fact basis to know they are not lucky noise on the net. After all noise can logically possibly mimic anything. (See the selective hyperskepticism/ hypercredulity problem your argument faces?)” http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/an-attempt-at-computing-dfsci-for-english-language/#comment-527675

    A stray comment? Am I quoting out of context?

    vjtorley:
    As readers of this blog will know, I have come to the conclusion, during the last few months, that many of ID’s scientific claims in the field of biology are false. That doesn’t alter the nature of ID as a science: all it means is that ID’s scientific hypotheses rest on insufficient evidence. Were I convinced that the biological evidence was sufficient, I wouldn’t hesitate to return to becoming an ID advocate.

    At the time when you were ID advocate, what was the state of the evidence back then?

    And how about the conceptual consistency of ID theory? This was personally my immediate objection to ID theory upon first encounter and it proved decisive. For example, how can you bring yourself to put “design” or “intelligent cause” as the direct object of the verb “detect”? How is this semantically possble for you? Or how can you make sense of the compound “intelligent design”? Does it contrast with “unintelligent design”? (I’m a grammarian, by the way. Much safer job than metaphysics.)

  13. RobinRobin

    colewd: colewd February 17, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    GlenDavidson,

    What things in nature appear to be designed in any definite manner?

    All life forms from bacteria to multicellular life.

    Sigh

  14. Gregory

    “insofar as defense of ID as a scientific theory matters” – Erik

    In case it helps you to understand, vjtorley isn’t defending ID as a ‘strictly scientific theory’. So to him that defense (whatever it is) in principle does not matter to what he’s arguing. Thus, as you say quite correctly, “Until then, it remains a matter of faith, a statement confined to theology,” which is vjtorley’s unusual Aussie-Japanese brand of IDist apologetics. It’s gotta be a case-by-case basis with these ‘ID advocates’ who betray in writing what their other valiant words are trying to say through their misguided IDist writings on useless blogs.

    For vjtorley, ‘Intelligent Design’ is inescapably ABOUT RELIGION. Thus, when he writes and discusses (almost always) capitalised ‘Intelligent Design’ it is a theological conversation already (!), or at least a ‘science, philosophy and theology’ theme, not ‘strictly scientific’ as DI demands. vjtorley’s meaning of “defense of ID as a scientific theory” is only what the DI must do according to their disfigured mission and not what vjtorley must say as his own personal vjtorley-ID cheerleader.

    The fact that they don’t seem to actually speak (although they do a lot of it) for a single soul other than themselves hasn’t stopped other ID-fanatics from hawkish unrepentant IDism, kinda like the DI, but radically individualist and ‘protest-like’ at the same time: Cameron Wybrow, ‘Mike Gene’ & the real ‘father of ID,’ Dr. Robert A. Herrmann (http://www.raherrmann.com/main.html).

  15. colewd

    Erik,

    This presupposes that you can successfully clarify and defend the “complexity” term, demonstrate that “intelligent agent” has the connection to it that you claim it has and then that the ID theory can detect all that, complexity or the agent or whichever. Nobody has seen any of this. And we would never see any of this, if the critics of ID are right. But you can go ahead and prove me wrong now. Calculate the complexity of an object of your choice and explain the relation of the calculation to an intelligent agent. You know a few who have attempted this, don’t you?

    Why not just look at something and see if it meets Behe’s criteria. Parts arranged for a purpose. With life you can extend it to parts arranged for a purpose that can perform a specific mechanical function at the molecular level.

    Can you demonstrate that this is a false claim? What is the argument that this is not designed?

  16. Erik Post author

    colewd: Can you demonstrate that this is a false claim? What is the argument that this is not designed?

    What’s the argument that there is any non-designed thing? You see, as per theism, God created everything, so everything is designed in that sense, at least to some extent. Everything has a purpose. No dispute there.

    The dispute is over what’s the meaning of “detecting design” or “measuring intelligence (or FIASCO or whatever you call it)”. What is that which is being detected and measured? What’s the scientific relevance?

  17. Gregory

    Erik: What’s the argument that there is any non-designed thing? You see, as per theism, God created everything, so everything is designed in that sense, at least to some extent. No dispute there.

    The dispute is over what’s the meaning of “detecting design” or “measuring intelligence (or FIASCO or whatever you call it)”. What is that which is being detected and measured? What’s the scientific relevance?

    And yet there’s still a whole slew of nincompoops who think ‘memetics’ has ‘scientific relevance’ jus cuz Dawkins’ said it and also cuz no way they think “God created everything”. Right? ; )

  18. Neil Rickert

    colewd: All life forms from bacteria to multicellular life.

    To me, those don’t look designed. Rather, they look to be part of nature.

    Remembering back to my childhood, my father would use wooden stakes at times in his garden (to support beans, for example). But, sometimes he would use grapevine cuttings or fruit tree prunings instead of the usual wooden stakes. And I remember thinking of the usual wooden stakes as designed, but the cuttings and prunings as not designed.

  19. colewd

    Erik,

    The dispute is over what’s the meaning of “detecting design” or “measuring intelligence (or FIASCO or whatever you call it)”. What is that which is being detected and measured? What’s the scientific relevance?

    If we start from a definition like Behe’s, then we can test humans capability to detect design since we have parts arranged for a purpose that we know were designed. Like computers cars etc. I think humans are pretty good a detecting design with a little practice. If the tests are positive then we can start to list parts of nature that meet the criteria.

  20. GlenDavidson

    Neil Rickert: colewd: All life forms from bacteria to multicellular life.

    To me, those don’t look designed. Rather, they look to be part of nature.

    They look a lot like they–what was that word?–oh yeah, evolved.

    Don’t worry, IDists know what to do, just define life as “designed.”

    Glen Davidson

  21. Gregory

    colewd: Erik,
    If we start from a definition like Behe’s, then we can test humans capability to detect design since we have parts arranged for a purpose that we know were designed.Like computers cars etc.I think humans are pretty good a detecting design with a little practice.If the tests are positive then we can start to list parts of nature that meet the criteria.

    Why would we start by taking Behe’s general definition of ‘Intelligent Design’ (which he doesn’t capitalise, on purpose) applied to a topic Behe was a rank amateur on?

    Then ‘intelligent design theory’ would have started in psychology, anthropology, philosophy of applied science, etc. and not first and foremost in biology. Either you’ve got it backwards, or the Discovery Institute does. The exaggeration by Behe in the Foreword to Dembski’s “The Bridge” book is telling. Behe – nice guy, pathetically bad philosopher – flirted with universal designism – IDT has implications for all humane studies, including literary criticism, he said! ; ) This is the kinda stuff that makes IDists look like quacks. : (

  22. Erik Post author

    colewd:
    Erik,

    If we start from a definition like Behe’s, then we can test humans capability to detect design since we have parts arranged for a purpose that we know were designed.Like computers cars etc.I think humans are pretty good a detecting design with a little practice.If the tests are positive then we can start to list parts of nature that meet the criteria.

    You are not getting it. The issue is this:

    …we can test humans capability to detect design since we have parts arranged for a purpose that we know were designed. <== this sentence has no meaning

    “detect design” – What does this mean? I have asked a thousand times over many years. No answer.

    “parts arranged for a purpose” – Show me parts that have been arranged for no purpose. What’s the difference compared to parts arranged for a purpose?

    “we know were designed” – What is that thing about which we know it was not designed? What does “designed” without a subject even mean? If you know it’s designed, then you know by whom, so who was it? And what’s the relevance of this knowledge anyway?

    No answer, ever.

  23. AcartiaAcartia

    I don’t have anything against philosophy, but why does ID rely on this discipline rather than actual science, testing and evidence to support their theory?

  24. MungMung

    vjtorley: I’ve never used the phrase, “caused by design.” You’re attacking a straw man.

    That particular straw-man probably arises from people who think some things are caused by poor design. 🙂

  25. MungMung

    Acartia: I don’t have anything against philosophy, but why does ID rely on this discipline rather than actual science, testing and evidence to support their theory?

    That’s an easy one. People avoid attacking the science of ID because it benefits them in some way to foster the perception that ID doesn’t do science.

  26. vjtorley

    Hi Erik,

    I shall respond to your post in about 18 hours. You mentioned that you have no affiliation with the A-T school, and that your personal objections to ID have nothing to do with A-T metaphysics. May I ask what your background is? Is it in science or philosophy, or both?

  27. Gregory

    Mung: That’s an easy one. People avoid attacking the science of ID because it benefits them in some way to foster the perception that ID doesn’t do science.

    People do science, knucklehead. ID per se does nothing. And the people who ‘do ID’ do little science.

    “I don’t have anything against philosophy, but…”

    Famous ass words…

  28. MungMung

    Gregory: …yet at the same time bringing due and sadly deserved ridicule upon the evangelicals they represent, including Mung…

    Been ridiculed all my life. No need to stop now. Besides, I crave attention. So it all works for the good.

  29. colewd

    Erik,

    we can test humans capability to detect design since we have parts arranged for a purpose that we know were designed. this sentence has no meaning

    -Lets define design as parts arranged for a purpose to perform a function. The function is the purpose of the design. The purpose of the designed automobile is transportation. It also has a purposeful arrangement of an engine tires etc. Since we know automobiles are designed, because we can observe the process, automobiles serve as a reference to infer design i.e. we can compare the thing we are observing to an automobile design.

    “detect design” – What does this mean? I have asked a thousand times over many years. No answer.

    Design detection simply means observing something and inferring if its designed. The human brain plus our senses detects design.

    “parts arranged for a purpose” – Show me parts that have been arranged for no purpose. What’s the difference compared to parts arranged for a purpose?

    Rocks arranged on a beach may not perform any function other than being arranged together. An outboard motor to a boat has parts that are arranged to propel a boat through the water.

    “we know were designed” – What is that thing about which we know it was not designed? What does “designed” without a subject even mean? If you know it’s designed, then you know by whom, so who was it? And what’s the relevance of this knowledge anyway?

    You can infer design without the identity of the designer. The outboard motor is inferred to be designed, the designer is most likely unknown.

  30. Erik Post author

    colewd: Design detection simple means observing something and inferring if it designed. The human brain plus our senses detects design.

    Does it? Look at FMM’s “practical exercise” or measurements like FSC*#@. Explain.

    What you are saying here is indistinguishable from just randomly guessing it – not knowing what is being guessed.

  31. MungMung

    ID proponents are often criticized for their failure to develop operational definitions. Then, when they do, they are criticized for that too. It’s not exactly fair, but who ever said life is fair?

  32. Erik Post author

    Mung:
    ID proponents are often criticized for their failure to develop operational definitions. Then, when they do, they are criticized for that too. It’s not exactly fair, but who ever said life is fair?

    It would be okay if there were an operational definition somewhere. There isn’t. An operational definition leads towards determining the nature and properties of that which is under investigation. Here we are getting nowhere nearer to determining the nature and properties of design or whatever ID is supposed to be determining.

    Instead, I’m getting suggestions like “we know automobiles are designed. Design detection simple means observing something and inferring if it designed. The human brain plus our senses detects design.” If I already know it, then where is the detection? Aren’t scientists supposed to draw conclusions after the investigation/experimentation, not before it?

    If we were dealing with a scientific theory, the previous question would not arise. Nor would any of the other questions.

  33. Erik Post author

    Gregory: Teleology is in the ’empirical world’; it’s a question of how teleology can be studied and applied reflexively that is hot. Teleology as real as a-teleology in the natural world. In the human-social world, teleology simply cannot be avoided.

    Final causes are returning with a vengeance, but science does not have the tools and methods to study them and scientists lack the conceptual paradigm to accommodate them. At least natural sciences don’t. Art critics maybe can figure out “what the author meant”, but would you say their determination is an empirical one?

    Gregory: What kind of ‘theist’ are you, Erik? A general answer is likely enough. I ask because you don’t seem to be an evangelical Protestant Christian. But you don’t seem like anything specific either. Zoroastrian? Baha’i? Ismaili?

    None of those. Never saw the attraction of Abrahamic religions. I read the Bible when I was young enough and that’s how I knew I didn’t belong in that direction.

  34. Flint

    Robin: For one thing, actual science – a scientific perspective as it were – starts with a desire to try to understand something aboutsome observed phenomenon. In contrast, ID is pretty much based on a completely opposite perspective: try to detect phenomena that in some way indicate some alignment with a predefined understanding (that intelligence is required for the existence of complex things).

    Or as the classic cartoon has it, the scientist says to his students “here is the evidence. What conclusions might we draw from it?” The theologist holds up his bible and says “here are the conclusions. What evidence can we find to support them?”

  35. Flint

    colewd:
    Erik,

    Why not just look at something and see if it meets Behe’s criteria.Parts arranged for a purpose.With life you can extend it to parts arranged for a purpose that can perform a specific mechanical function at the molecular level.

    Can you demonstrate that this is a false claim?What is the argument that this is not designed?

    I can look at parts arranged so as to perform a useful function, without seeing parts arranged for a purpose. I think we can all find multiple, perfectly valid uses for just about anything around us. This tells us nothing about the “purpose” for which such things are “designed”. Were rocks designed to pound nails, or were they designed to break windows?

    One problem I see is an equivocation on the word “design”. As a verb, it describes a process. As a noun, it describes the RESULT of that process. As a verb, design usually implies a purpose. As a noun, it does not necessarily – this is a trapdoor sort of function. We can’t look at an object and guess its purpose without knowing something about the design process that produced it.

    If we wish to stretch our terms a bit out of shape, we could say that evolutionary processes (mutation, selection, drift, etc.) somehow constitute a design process. But if we take a cell and cannot reconstruct its history, postulating a “magic poofer” as a substitute history is at best intellectually lazy, if not outright corrupt.

  36. Tom EnglishTom English

    Kantian Naturalist: I only read your post, not the article you’re commenting on, but I just want to say, I really liked it.

    It seems like strong stuff to me, but I don’t know enough about Aquinas to recommend that the post be featured. I give no weight to Vincent Torley’s dismissal, knowing that he often pronounces on subjects he understands poorly, and knowing that a specialist like Feser is more likely than he to have understood Scholasticism correctly.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I and less… invested than Vincent will recommend that the post be featured.

  37. MungMung

    ID fails to take into account the pervasive immanence of God’s activity in creation and so wrongly argues for discrete interventions. Aquinas requires no such interventions and recognizes God’s use of secondary causation.

    I’ll leave the Aquinas stuff to Vincent.

    The argument that ID fails to take into account the pervasive immanence of God’s activity in creation is a heads I win tails you lose proposition. If ID appealed to God’s pervasive immanence then it’s challenge to the materialist creation story would be religious.

    The attempt to argue that since God’s activity in nature is immanent, therefore it cannot be interventionist, simply begs the question.

    Further, I’m still waiting for theistic evolutionists to appeal to the pervasive immanence of God’s activity in Creation. They seem to avoid it like the plague.

  38. MungMung

    Flint: One problem I see is an equivocation on the word “design”. As a verb, it describes a process. As a noun, it describes the RESULT of that process. As a verb, design usually implies a purpose. As a noun, it does not necessarily – this is a trapdoor sort of function.

    Given that the noun expresses the result of the action, the verb, how can the noun not imply what has been imparted to it by the verb?

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