Nagel's ID-Friendly Mind and Cosmos Takes Its First Hit
Thomas Nagel's new book, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford U. Press), sustains its first substantive attack in the pages of The Nation. Philosophers Brian Leiter and Michael Weisberg submit a defense of Darwin based, in the end, on the theory's inspirational value.
We suspect that philosophers -- even philosophers sympathetic to some of Nagel's concerns -- will be disappointed by the actual quality of the argument.How come?
No one could possibly think he has shown that a massively successful scientific research program like the one inspired by Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection "is almost certainly false." The subtitle seems intended to market the book to evolution deniers, intelligent-design acolytes, religious fanatics and others who are not really interested in the substantive scientific and philosophical issues. Even a philosopher sympathetic to Nagel's worries about the naturalistic worldview would not claim this volume comes close to living up to that subtitle. Its only effect will be to make the book an instrument of mischief.Come on guys, you can do better than that. This is a silly claim. Almost anything can inspire a scientific research program. In fact, special creationism seems to have inspired Darwin's program. So an idea can play an inspirational role whether or not it's true.
Leiter and Weisberg should check the "actual quality" of their own "argument" before critiquing Nagel's.
(For more on Nagel v. Darwin see Casey Luskin's post of earlier today.)