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I asked two questions X and Y, namely:

Both have been closed, Y because it is allegedly off-topic and X because it is allegedly a duplicate of Y.

X is clearly on-topic, it asks whether a position objectively meets certain standards in the context of philosophy of science. I mean, for sure it's at least far more on-topic than this question: Does Intelligent Design need Religion? (which has been open for almost 12 years and counting).

Y has been closed due to not being about philosophy (which I think is debatable).

If X is on-topic and Y is off-topic, does it make logical sense to close X as a duplicate of Y?

Logic tells me that if X is a duplicate of Y (X == Y), then it follows that X is on-topic if and only if Y is on-topic. That is, either

  • (a) both X and Y are on-topic, or
  • (b) both X and Y are off-topic.

If case (a) is the case, then question Y should be re-opened. If case (b) is the case, then I fail to understand what set of criteria would simultaneously determine that X is off-topic and that questions like Does Intelligent Design need Religion? are on-topic in a self-consistent manner. Here is another example that is on-topic: Does Intelligent Design (ID) entail an infinite regress of designers, and if so, is that problematic?

Now, if X is not a duplicate of Y (X ≠ Y), then X should be re-opened, unless it is off-topic, but then my objection to case (b) above would apply.


UPDATE: I want to express my gratitude to everyone who voted to reopen the questions. I really appreciate it.

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    SE only allows one final close reason. If 3 people vote for it as a duplicate and 2 vote for it as off-topic then it gets closed as a duplicate. Getting closed as a duplicate does not mean that the community view it as on-topic. Jun 4, 2023 at 11:08
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    @JackAidley: "Getting closed as a duplicate does not mean that the community view it as on-topic" Sure, which would be case (b) in the analysis I presented above. But then my objection to case (b) would apply.
    – Mark
    Jun 4, 2023 at 12:23
  • Because the Designers of the site aren't very Intelligent?
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 27, 2023 at 0:55

3 Answers 3

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Both questions are on topic here. The first is a question clarifying the identity of different ideas, which is what philosophy had done for forever. The second is a clarification of the boundary principles of science, relative to one of the two ideas, which is a central topic in philosophy of science.

Both questions produced high quality answers, which our community clearly appreciated, by giving them a significant number of upvotes.

Both questions also produced hostile answers and commentary, which attacked the motivations and integrity of the questioner. This hostility to the questioner appears to the the primary motivation behind these close votes.

A specific assertion that our community need to "protect itself" against the religious thinking behind both questions, is NOT one of our closure criteria, and the rationales used to close the question, may themselves to have been primarily applied with less than full integrity.

The specific claim that our community needs to be protected, is clearly false based on answer quality, upvotes, and commentary. We are not being overrun by religious trolls.

Both questions should clearly be reopened.

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I'll just provide a broad response to events, as I think your reasoning on the matter is relatively cogent, but I don't think it worth wading into details.

Welcome to PhilSE if you're new. Despite my rejection of your ideas, I always believe that the community benefits from more regular contributors, so certainly continue to contribute.

I want to say that I believe you presume, however, that the democratic mechanisms here on the forum follow simple reason. They don't. I once created a question on a topic that had an entry in a philosophy encyclopedia to have it closed down by multiple moderators as off-topic. I still routinely protest posts that are closed that are obviously on-topic. The mechanism for arbitrating closure is inadequate, and I believe that the mechanism for modifying inadequate mechanisms is inadequate. And honestly, no one cares enough to make a change, so that is what it is. So, I'm largely in agreement that given your posts and edits, there should be at least one question that has remained open.

Now, on your first question, you asked more than one question and edited the question. So the title of the question you cite and the one that I answered on your first post are different. There's nothing wrong with adjusting your question to avoid closure or clarify, but I'm just pointing out that the question raised by your first did change a bit. So fair enough, you craft a second post related but not identical to your first post. There's also nothing wrong with that. My personal feelings are that the first post shouldn't have been closed. I think the knowledge base should permit a question about the question of whether or not intelligent design, according to the philosophy of science, is pseudoscience or not. All perfectly viable Q&A, all of this so far.

I didn't vote to close the first post. My response to the question garnered nearly 20 votes (which is a strong response here on this forum these days) and I think the question is a good one, and I don't believe the way to deal with bad ideas is to shut them out, but is to post a disclaimer that they are bad ideas, provide pointers to philosophical resources by professionals that explicate why they are bad ideas, and then allow people to make up their minds for themselves. So, I believe that there should be an open post that addresses the question: Is ID Pseudoscience? And I believe that both pro and con should be allowed to make a case citing canonical literature and factual evidence. I did my part by citing one work by a philosopher of science, one work by a PhD and his collaborator, and pointed to a number of articles in the SEP and IEP which analyze ID. To my knowledge, no other response has provided comparable philosophical citations.

The questions you have posed largely focus on the question about the scientific status of ID. I think one can produce 20 questions that are different, but they all come back to the central thesis regarding whether or not ID is pseudoscience or scientific inquiry, and so with this hinge question, all responses to a variety of questions will gravitate back towards the thesis. There are those who strenuously reject it (majority of scientists, philosophers of science, and the US court system), and there are those who maintain it (neocreationists). On the surface your two questions are distinct, but they come back to this presumption that is built into ALL discussion of ID. Is ID pseudoscience.

This forum is not a forum to argue positions, which to be fair, does happen a lot, but rather is a forum to provide answers to the factual nature of the ongoing discussion. Thus, if one wants to argue, one must appeal to sources as a contest of facts about the argument rather than to make an argument itself. It's not a place for original research and debate. It is a fact that large groups of people, German scientists, US scientists, philosophers of science, Chinese nationalists do not recognize ID as science. This claim can be contested by producing books and articles from philosophers of science, or well-established scientific societies (NAS, NIH, AAAS, British Royal Society), etc. But you can't point to fringe publications by fringe groups to contest the claim without it being original research. And this is not a place for original research.

I own and posted Philip Kitcher's work to substantiate my claim. Kitcher is a professional philosopher of science. This is also a fact. His conclusions are expert testimony. If you can produce a the work from a professional, well-known philosopher of science, then you post it, and make the claim that philosophers of science DO support ID. Of course, if you include some rando from the Internet and declare him a philosopher of science, the question will then degenerate into does his claim of expertise count. Does he have a PhD in philosophy? Do other philosophers endorse his views? What are his scientific bona fides? What are his publications? If they're not up to snuff, then the rando isn't a philosopher of science.

What you can't do is say, I believe he's a philosopher of science, so that that makes it fact. No. It doesn't. Anymore than "publishing papers" on an Internet site makes you an expert in your topic. And even forming a company and printing legitimate materials doesn't guarantee that you're engaged in anything more than echo-chamber peer-review on the fringe. The reason ID provokes such fervent responses is that it fundamentally fails to play by well-accepted epistemological principles. This is why scientists, philosophers, and courts don't take it seriously as science.

IMNSHO, a bunch of fundamental fideists who get a PhD to prove their faith right will never emulate the model of skepticism that's built into 2,500 years of tradition starting with Thales of Miletus, and extend through the dominance of the Catholic church, and into the modern era where an array of global, democratic scientific academies continue to the question of maintaining the appropriate burden of doubt. Evolution, unlike Christian fundamentalism, is embraced in just about every university across the globe, because it plays by a set of epistemological rules.

You are violating those rules when you come to a site like this and try to craft a question that appears to be honest philosophical discourse, but is really just a chance for you to promote your belief system. And people on this site see through that. There are plenty of theologists who reject ID, not because they're hostile to religion, but because ID purports to be something that it is not. That doesn't make it's proponents bad people acting in bad faith, but it does evince a certain ignorance of epistemological methods.

You created these questions because you already had the answer, in the same way that ID was crafted not to explore science, but disconfirm Darwinism and natural selection. Judges see through it, theologians see through it, scientists see through it, and philosophers see through it.

So it doesn't matter, the finer distinctions you draw in creating questions, because the issue will always come back to the patently false claim that ID is genuinely scientific in its activity. There are those who accept the claim (largely through ignorance IMNSHO), and those who have spent their lives doing genuinely skeptical, rigorously scientific inquiry.

I applaud you for venturing outside of your cultural bubble of like-minded, faith-prioritizing colleagues. But PhilSE is no echo chamber.

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If the recent questions were closed, but even worse questions from 10 years ago were not, then the correct response could be to also close those old questions, if anyone cared enough to police old questions. A single bad question that was left unclosed 10 years ago should not open the floodgates to plenty of more similar bad questions on the basis of "precedent law".

X: Does Intelligent Design fulfill the necessary criteria to be recognized as a scientific theory? X is clearly on-topic ...

The community decides that.

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  • On-Topic basically means, "we are willing to entertain this here." Which is fine, as long is everyone realizes the scope and purposes of the site. If someone wants a different Judge, they probably have to bring their case to a different venue.
    – Scott Rowe
    Jul 27, 2023 at 1:52

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