I’ve started an “Archives” category to archive my numerous debates with creationists over the years. This particular debate started when I mentioned W.V. Quine’s virtue of scientific conservatism (found in his book “The Web of Belief“). I am writing as Johnny, while my opponent, Clete, is a young earth creationist who also prides himself as a philosopher. We enter the debate here when I first mention conservatism.
Conservatism is simply the preference for the hypothesis which requires less rejection of established knowledge. See the example in the post above. Modesty is simply the preference for the hypothesis which includes more familiar phenomenon. For example, that caller who hung up when you answered could be a burglar calling to see if you are home, but a more modest hypothesis is that someone dialed the wrong number. Simplicity is self-explanatory — similar to Occam’s razor.
With respect to conservatism in particular, how do these not tend to maintain and propagate errors of the past? With these as your criterion, once you start down a wrong path, how would you ever do a course correction? Read more »