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Notes on Draper's Article on Behe's Design Argument, Part 4: Behe's Revision

In the last installment, we saw that there are two serious problems for Behe's key claim that some biochemical systems are irreducibly very complex: (i) Behe fails to demonstrate that his example systems in Darwin's Black Box are irreducibly very complex, and (ii) a number of scientists (e.g., cell biologist Kenneth Miller and biochemist David W. Ussery) have given excellent evidence to show that his examples aren't irreducibly complex. However, Draper points out that Behe has responded to this criticism by (in effect) revising his account of irreducibly complex systems. To see how, we’ll need to give a slightly more precise formulation of Behe’s original account of that notion. Recall that his original account defined irreducible complexity as a system "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein removal of any of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning". Thus, Behe's original accou…

Review of Timothy O'Connor's New Book, Theism and Ultimate Explanation

here (HT Prosblogion). It's a book-length defense of the cosmological argument from contingency. Timothy O'Connor is a first-rate philosopher, and a very clear writer, so you can bet the book is both an important contribution to the debate and a good read. He's primarily known for his work on the free will issue (he's one of the leading contemporary defenders of the libertarian position).

I should note that he's no fan of Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism. In fact, he's published two excellent critiques of it here and here.


BTW: if you don't know already, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews is an excellent source of philosophy book reviews. You can sign up at their site to have reviews of the latest books sent right to your email.

on vacation

Hi gang,

I'm currently on vacation at the beach, very much enjoying my family, friends, and self. I'll be back in about a week or so to finish the Draper article. In the meantime, be well!

Best,

EA

Notes on Draper's Article on Behe's Design Argument, Part 3: Are Behe's Examples irreducibly Complex?

We've been discussing Paul Draper's criticisms of Behe's design argument in Draper's 2002 article, "Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe".[1] To briefly review, recall that the article focuses on stage one of Behe's two-stage design argument, which argues that certain biochemical structures cannot have arisen via Darwinian gradualistic processes. The argument of this stage crucially relies on his notion of irreducible complexity, where this is defined as a system "composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein removal of any of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning". [2] With this notion in hand, Behe argues that there are irreducibly very complex biochemical systems, and that these systems can't plausibly be explained in terms of gradualistic evolutionary processes. And the reason is that evolution can only create systems via …

Notes on Draper's Article on Behe's Design Argument, Part 2: Three Bad Criticisms

Here is the second installment of notes on Paul Draper's important article critiquing Behe's design argument, "Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe", Faith and Philosophy 19:1 (2002), pp. 3-21

Draper points out that three common criticisms of Behe's irreducible complexity argument miss the mark.

I. Bad Objection #1: Other Biochemical Systems are Reducibly Complex and Evolvable
First, some have argued that lots of biochemical systems exhibit redundancy, which shows that such systems are not irreducibly complex. But Draper points out that this doesn't refute Behe's argument. For recall that Behe isn't committed to the claim that all biochemical systems are irreducibly complex, but rather the weaker claim that at least some are, and that some of these (viz., those that are very complex) could not have evolved through gradualistic evolutionary processes. Behe isn't your standard creationist: he thinks the evidence f…

Notes on Draper's Article on Behe's Design Argument, Part 1: The Argument Stated and Explained

For the next several posts, I'll be writing on Paul Draper's article, "Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe", Faith and Philosophy 19:1 (2002), pp. 3-21. Here's the first installment.

I. General
Michael Behe is a biochemist at Lehigh University. He uses his knowledge of biochemistry for the basis of the first stage of his two-stage design argument. In the first stage, he argues that certain biochemical structures (e.g., the bacterialflagellum and the blood-clotting cascade) could not have arisen through the gradualistic processes of evolution. In the second stage, he argues that if such structures could not have arisen in stepwise Darwinian fashion, then it's very probable that they were produced by one or more intelligent designers. Draper's article focuses on the first stage of Behe's argument.

II. Irreducible Complexity
The central notion of Behe's argument is what he calls 'irreducible complexity'. B…

The Single Best Article on Behe's Design Argument From Irreducible Complexity

...is Paul Draper's "Irreducible Complexity and Darwinian Gradualism: A Reply to Michael J. Behe". Faith and Philosophy 19:1 (2002), pp. 3-21.

Draper is my favorite philosopher of religion. If you haven't read his stuff, I encourage you to do so!

Btw: he's the current editor of Philo, which is the non-theistic counterpart of the premier philosophy of religion journal, Faith and Philosophy (although some say Philosophia Christi may overtake it)

Post Index: Argument from Contingency

Outline of Rowe's Chapter on the Argument from Contingency in His Philosophy of Religion, Part II

Notes on Rowe on the Cosmological Argument, Part Two: Four Criticisms of the Argument

0. Review
0.1 Dependent beings: a being whose existence is accounted for by the causal activity of other beings
0.2 Self-existent beings: beings whose existence is self-explanatory, or accounted for by their own inner nature
0.3 The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): There must be an explanation for (a) the existence of every object, and (b) of every positive fact whatsoever, either in terms of something else or in terms of its own inner nature.
0.4 The basic argument:

1. Either everything is a dependent being, or there is a self-existent being.
2. Not everything is a dependent being.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
3. Therefore, there is a self-existent being.

1. First Criticism: Dependence and the fallacy of composition
1.1 The argument fallaciously assumes that because each member of the collection of beings within the universe is dependent…

Outline of Rowe's Chapter on the Argument from Contingency in His Philosophy of Religion, Part I

Notes on Rowe on the Cosmological Argument, Part One

1. Setup: Terminology
1.1 Dependent beings: a being whose existence is accounted for by the causal activity of other beings
1.2 Self-existent beings: beings whose existence is self-explanatory, or accounted for by their own inner nature
1.3 The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR): There must be an explanation for (a) the existence of every being, and (b) of every positive fact whatsoever, either in terms of something else or in terms of its own inner nature.

2. The Argument:
2.1 (1) Either everything is a dependent being, or there is a self-existent being.
2.1 (2) Not everything is a dependent being.
2.3 (3) Therefore, there is a self-existent being.
2.4 The argument is valid, since it has the valid argument form of Disjunctive Syllogism ((1) P or Q, (2) Not-P; therefore, (3) Q)
2.5 So, if the premises are both true, the conclusion follows of necessity.
2.6 So what is the evidence for the premises?

3. The Case for Premise 1: There can be n…