Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course

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Anti-GMO Food Logic

Screen-shot-2010-02-06-at-13.48.42

 Image courtesy of http://lincolngenetics.blogspot.ca

Tomato in the left column: non-GMO

Tomatoes in the centre and right columns: GMO

Modified 15/10/2014

GMO food has been on the market since 1994, when Calgene first marketed its Flavr Savr delayed ripening tomato. Since then, GMO food has become widespread in the food market, and most people aren’t even aware they are eating GMO food. GMO food is produced through genetic engineering, where a gene from one organism is inserted into the genome of another. The genes are usually removed from one species and inserted into another species, creating transgenic organisms.

David Suzuki is a renowned Canadian scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. In an interview with CBC in October 1999, when asked about his opinion about GMO food, Mr. Suzuki replied that he’s “we have no idea what the long-term consequences of these genetic manipulations are.”

Mr. Suzuki’s statement can be viewed as an argument broken down into the following premises and conclusion:

Premise 1: Effects of gene transplantation from one species to another species on the organism are unknown.

Premise 2: Effects from consumption of GMO organisms on an unmodified organism are unknown.

Premise 3: Consumption of GMO foods entails risks that have not been fully identified or proven.

Conclusion: Therefore, we should avoid consumption of GMO foods.

An evaluation of Mr. Suzuki’s argument may reveal to us how sound his argument is.

Premise 1 can be considered to be true, since there have not been extensive studies conducted into the effects. There is insufficient scientific data to prove any known effects.

Premise 2 can be considered to be true also, since monitoring the effects of all the different combinations of GMO foods is close to impossible.

Premise 3 can be considered to be true, as this premise is based on the Precautionary Principle, which states that “if a proposed activity carries with it the possibility of environmental harm, but that harm is not completely proven, then that activity may not be allowed.”

– P. Saradhi Puttagunta

As seen above, Mr. Suzuki’s argument is factually correct, since all the premises are true. They are true because the development of GMO food is relatively recent, and not enough research has been done on its effects. His premises are valid because they have a correct form and are based on valid logic. This validates his conclusion, thus making his argument valid. His argument is logically sound, because it is both valid and true.

Genetic engineering may affect future generations of humans in a variety of ways. Firstly, the biodiversity of flora and fauna will be severely diminished, since unmodified varieties of crops will be replaced with genetically engineered varieties. Food supplies could be severely affected if the genetically engineered crops are stricken with disease. Since there would be fewer varieties of crops, natural resistance to the disease would not exist, resulting in massive crop failure. This would lead to severe food shortage, malnutrition, health problems, and even death.

However, the danger of endorsing Mr. Suzuki’s argument is to deprive developing countries of a chance of improving their condition. GMO food may help to reduce hunger because it can be engineered to provide more nutrition. This property can help combat malnutrition, and improve the health of many populations.

 

 

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Scientific Philosophy Round Up

Soaring into the eye of the gods

Image courtesy of Gardner Campbell (and the Romans)

I thought it might be helpful to round up the Scientific Philosophy posts here so that we might be able to more easily delve into their contents in the future.

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 1.11.57 PMHeather & Andrea’s Instrumentalism Prezi

Logical Positivism is an outdated, radical idea that started in the Vienna Circle as far back as the early 1800s. The main view that logical positivists held is that no statement is legitimate or meaningful until it can be proven true or false. In the minds of logical positivists, personal opinions and values only warps science, and it can only be objective through the scientific method. During or class discussion, with the help of a spectrum of ideologies such as instrumentalism and postmodernism, the majority of the class came to the conclusion that science is not objective. This agreement was based on the idea that science is about the process of which we come to a conclusion, rather than the conclusion itself. Logical positivists would disagree with this analogy, as they believe that science is about coming to a proven legitimate conclusion rather than the process.

Ashley, Jessica & Sophie on Logical Positivism

As a byproduct of the horrors of the Holocaust, a lost outlook on art, literature, and science arose rampant. From the works of Kurt Vonnegut to Jackson Pollock, a taste for confusion and abstract perspectives is obvious. After the war, in debt and longing for war, the ambiance was rather angsty… skeptical if you will.

The whole objective of science is to create an objective method to find an objective truth. However, how can one be continued objective in this world of context and personal bias. In the post modernist view, the world should be objective, looking and searching for a single truth… or a set of certain truths. But science is a way of thinking, in which no one can be objective. We have a set of lenses in which we choose what to search for. What can we tolerate? What do we need to discover?

Julie on Postmodernists’ Science

In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

Dylan, Katherine & Aidan on Kuhn’s Paradigms

Karl Popper stated very simply that science can only get as true as long as one cannot deem it false. This is his theory of falsification, regarding that in science, one can never reach 100% objectivity; that a scientific theory will infinitely approach this asymptotic mark we call truth. For example, Galileo disproving that our planet is the center of our solar system and Einstein redefining the method of which we consider the gravitational pulls among interstellar masses from Newtons original gravitational theory.

Although Popper nicely answers our question, which I do mostly agree with, I still remain persistent and a little disagreeing with the concept of science being nonobjective. With that, I went and searched for the definition of science, which states:  knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation (Note: this is only one definition, there are many, however they all float around the same vicinity). The thing about science is that it is used to create facts, with the least subjectivity as possible, and to distinguish these facts with the most accuracy as possible. In the out come, a fact is only one element, meaning, that even though many different people can view and consider the function of a box in many different ways, in the end, it is still cubic object and that doesn’t change. It will be the same shape for everyone, the only difference is other’s may name it differently and use it differently.

Lazar and Deven on Karl Popper & Scientific Objectivity

In one of my reports I was writing for Quebec called: La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) I simplify narratives of narratives that are called meta-narratives which are essentially big, universal theories and philosophies. The one I will be discussing is the meta-narrative of the knowability of everything by science.

The first question I have is why is this theory putting all of us under the same category? People in developing nations don’t have access to learning about science or performing science, or what we perceive to be science.  They survive and know how to survive, not by science, but by the need to live. This leads to the question: isn’t needing to survive a primal instinct? Isn’t it science? Well yes, but is it an objective truth? Do we know what the earliest humans were thinking? How do we really know what primal instincts are for everyone? There different for people in countries in African and they’re different for people living in Canada. I’m sure we could all come up with ideas and words that were said by the earliest humans, but we don’t know. However what we do know is that every word or idea we think is different than what another person thinks.

Aman’s Ghost Report 

Quine in lesser words basically said that it’s hard to find an exact definition of a word, so it becomes impossible to use as a basis for a hypothesis or a theory. Every word has a definition, but the it’s hard to know the exact definition of the word. For example,  a definition of a word is someone’s opinion and everyone’s opinion is unique; therefore there are many types of definitions for every word. The definitions are not correct nor incorrect because its an opinion and opinions vary for every individual.

Van Ormine Quine by Imtiaz, Leon & Tyler

Dear readers. My name Martin Heidegger and my work as a philosopher was instrumental in understanding postmodernism and their views on science. My book, Being and Time, is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century and my work is said to have played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, postmodernism, and continental philosophy.

Is science objective: No, of course it is not.

Emily’s look at Martin Heidegger

I will update this post with quotes and links to both the Feminists’ view on Scientific Objectivity, as well as the Anarchistic Epistemologists, when they are posted.

 

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A Ghost’s Report -Aman

Bonjour lecteurs,

I’m Jean-François Lyotard’s  ghost. From 1924-1998 I was a great French philosopher, sociologist, and literary theorist. Most people know of me because of my analysis of post-modernism and it’s affects on the human condition. I have taught at many universities and have come up with a theory of my own.

My beautiful self.

In this passage I will be attempting to answer the question that Mr. Jackson’s philosophy 12 class was discussing today. Is science objective? The majority of the class agreed that no, it was not. This includes people who were feminists, instrumentalists, anarchist epistemologists, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, logical positivists, and Van Ormine Quine. After stating why each side believed in what they did, we heard many interesting perspectives (as a ghost I like to listen in on various conversations). I believe the conclusion they came to was that the process to find the truth of an experiment is subjective but the truth is objective, however that was still debated afterwards. Like Mr. Popper’s theory says, nothing is 100% and there is always room for falsification.

However, I am not Mr. Popper; therefore I will be writing about my own theory today. First I must explain to you that I am opposed to universal truths, narratives about other narratives, and generality. I do not see the point in the universalist claims of the Enlightened. Case and point, broad claims are stupid. Not everyone can be put under one category.

In one of my reports I was writing for Quebec called: La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) I simplify narratives of narratives that are called meta-narratives which are essentially big, universal theories and philosophies. The one I will be discussing is the meta-narrative of the knowability of everything by science.

The first question I have is why is this theory putting all of us under the same category? People in developing nations don’t have access to learning about science or performing science, or what we perceive to be science.  They survive and know how to survive, not by science, but by the need to live. This leads to the question: isn’t needing to survive a primal instinct? Isn’t it science? Well yes, but is it an objective truth? Do we know what the earliest humans were thinking? How do we really know what primal instincts are for everyone? There different for people in countries in African and they’re different for people living in Canada. I’m sure we could all come up with ideas and words that were said by the earliest humans, but we don’t know. However what we do know is that every word or idea we think is different than what another person thinks.

Moving on, how do we know what’s real? We don’t! That’s the tragic beauty of life. Everyone has different opinions and everyone has different realities and stories so it’s hard to come to an unanimous decision. We are all diversified, we all have beliefs, morals, cultural views, and, desires. These aspects affect all parts of our lives including science. This is why I don’t believe science is objective because you can’t group everything under one area and everyone and everything is different. We don’t know what’s real and we don’t know what’s true. We only know what is true for us.

“Scientific knowledge is a kind of discourse.” 

Sincerely yours,

Jean-François Lyotard

Please note I am not actually a ghost but a philosophy 12 student who decided to delve into the mind of a influential post-modern philosopher. 

 

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Scientific Philosophy Group Headings

Image from the FreeCollective.org

This week we will be attempting to respond to the question, Is Science Objective? through a variety of lenses. Read up on the links below to help us in choosing our groups for this course of study.

The Objectivity of Science
Chris Price

Postmodernism
Kristina, Daniel & Leanne

Philosophy of Deutsch
Richard and Greg

Thomas Kuhn
Daniel
Guide to Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Feminism
Iris, Yazmeen & Stephanie

Logical Positivism
Jennifer, Mariana & Misha

Karl Popper
Jonathan & Nick

Anarchistic Epistemology
Liam Keagan & Clayton

Instrumentalism
Toren, Megan & Derek

Van Ormine Quine
Kelly, Emily & Zoe

 

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Seinfeld Logic – jade

If it is something I believe, than to me it is true
If it is true, than it’s not a lie
Therefore, it’s not a lie if I believe it

Syllogistic Logic by George Costanza of Seinfeld

Costanza’s character regularly exclaims that his life is a lie. In a later episode, he reasons with Jerry explaining, “it’s not a lie if you believe it”. The logic behind his statement can tie into the ideas of where ignorant thinking is blissful thinking, and the root of a confined “free” mind. The premises of the logic are a person’s personal beliefs, and the self-manipulation that can happen with them. The premises are valid to the conclusion, but aren’t necessarily factually correct. The factual correctness of the premises depend on the reason and rationality they stand on. Whether or not the logic within the statement can be proven true or false is in the eye of the beholder.

I think with the syllogistic logic in this argument, you can either utilize it to strengthen your beliefs and further prove your theories in a positive way, or seemingly positive where a stubborn ignorance is bliss. In a negative way, you could use it to your power and manipulate your views onto other people, irrationally claiming their authenticity.

 

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Discussion Point: Is Science Objective?

look downstairs into stairwell whirl

Picture courtesy of Flickr user: quapan

As a culminating activity to our introduction to Scientific Philosophy, the class will be discussing the nature of objectivity in science from a number of perspectives outlined in the course text. In groups of 2-3, for-credit learners will prepare the following to be delivered next Tuesday (October 16th):

  • A one-minute introduction to their philosophical perspective (listed below);
  • A two-minute response to the question, Is Science Objective? 
  • A question for one of the other selected perspectives;

In addition, each group will post a synthesis of their thinking after the discussion to readdress their response to the original question, and incorporate influential points made by their peers during Tuesday’s class.

The different lenses / perspectives we will be addressing in class will be:

  • Post-Modernist
  • Feminist
  • Scientific Realist
  • Karl Popper
  • van Orman Quine
  • David Deutsche
  • Anarchistic Epistemologist
  • Instrumentalist
  • Logical Positivist

Invitation to Open-Online ParticipantsAs ever, we welcome your input, feedback, and engagement with the classroom learning wherever you are able to supply it. For this particular aspect of the course, if you would like to submit a response to the question from one (or more) of the listed perspectives (or one of your own choosing), feel free to submit a post or comment on the blog (If you are not a registered author on the blog, fill out the form on the Open Online Participants page to remedy this.) and join our discussion on Tuesday live on #ds106radio, or Google Hangout.

 
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