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The Waning of Materialism$
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Robert C. Koons and George Bealer

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556182

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556182.001.0001

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Against Methodological Materialism

Against Methodological Materialism

(p.375) 19 Against Methodological Materialism
The Waning of Materialism

Angus J. L. Menuge

Oxford University Press

‘Nature’ is ambiguous and may or may not include teleological causes. Materialism, however, clearly states that all phenomena can be explained by undirected causes. Methodological materialism (MM) unequivocally denies the legitimacy of teleological explanation and thereby excludes any form of Intelligent Design from science. When enforced as a policy of science education, MM silences those teachers who wish to present evidence challenging the adequacy of undirected causes. Apologists for MM provide a number of supporting rationales. It is claimed that design: is objectionably unobservable, violates a ‘publicity’ condition on scientific evidence, precludes general, law-based explanation, is a ‘science stopper’, is an argument from ignorance, fails to provide a mechanism, is ‘intractable’, is not ‘controllable’, is empirically sterile, makes no practical difference to science, and, in any case, has been decisively refuted. This chapter argues that none of these claims is a good reason to exclude design from science. It suggests that both Methodological Materialism and Methodological Design can have provisional value, but that the best overarching principle for science is Methodological Realism: allowing the iconoclastic nature of reality itself to judge the effectiveness of our provisional methodologies.

Keywords:   nature, materialism, methodological materialism, design, science stopper, realism

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