Cover Image

HARDBACK
$59.00



View/Hide Left Panel
FIGURE 17.4 A surface trace of a precision gauge block at 1 million times vertical magnification, illustrating the representation of deviations from perfection.

FIGURE 17.4 A surface trace of a precision gauge block at 1 million times vertical magnification, illustrating the representation of deviations from perfection.

SOURCE: Reproduced with permission from Moore (1970) (Copyright 1970, Moore Special Tool Company).

And our indefinitely extendable recursive power of reflection means that not only can we evaluate our progress, but we can evaluate our evaluation methods, and the grounds for relying on evaluation methods, and the grounds for thinking that this iterative process gives us grounds for believing the best fruits of our research, and so forth. Science is a culturally transmitted and maintained system of truth-tracking that has identified and rectified literally hundreds of imperfections in our animal equipment, and yet it is not itself a skyhook, a gift from God, but a product of adaptations, a fruit on the tree of life.

That is, in outline, the response to Plantinga’s premise (MacKenzie, 1868). We have excellent internal evidence for believing that science in general is both reliable and a product of naturalistic forces only—natural selection of genes and natural selection of memes. An allegiance to naturalism and to current evolutionary theory not only doesn’t undermine the conviction that our scientific beliefs are reliable; it explains them. Our “godlike” powers of comprehension and imagination do indeed set us apart from even our closest kin, the chimpanzees and bonobos, but these powers we have can all be accounted for on Darwin’s bubble-up theory of creation, clarified by Turing’s own strange—and wonderful—inversion of reasoning.

Our powers of representation permit us, for instance, to represent some of our predicaments as locations on adaptive landscapes (Fig. 17.5).



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement