Relying upon science alone is faulty, as it cannot prove anything.
Debate Rounds (4)
First, just some ground rules:
Both sides must stay on subject. If someone strays away from topic, it is grounds for forfeit.
Round 1: Acceptance only. No arguments in this round.
Round 2: Openings. No evidence may be brought forward in this round, just give an overview of where your argument will go. You need not rebut the opposing side's opening either.
Round 3: Constructives. Evidence is allowed here. Constructives can be rebuttals of the opposing sides opening, statements of your opinion, or anything that helps "construct" your case.
Round 4: Rebuttals and closings. First, each side will rebut the other's constructive. Evidence is allowed in this portion. You may or may not choose to do a closing. If you do, note that no evidence may be brought in on this portion.
Violation of any of these rules are grounds for forfeit.
RULES FOR DEBATING:
-Fallacious arguments have no place in this debate. However, if an argument is fallacious, and his/her opponent is unable to recognize it and point it out to the judges, that argument is not to be discredited. However, if the argument is shown to be fallacious by his/her opponent, that argument is to be deemed not binding in a judges final vote.
-Slander and rude language are not allowed in this debate.
-Vote fairly. In order to do this, make sure NOT to read the comments, as they may favor one side over the other.
-Treat this debate seriously. I want to have a good, understandable, profitable debate, not someone arguing with equal signs (I'm looking at you, vi_spex).
-The rulebook provided bellow will be used in this debate.
Pro will argue that the reliance upon science alone is faulty, because of the reason that it cannot prove anything. Con will argue the opposite, that science can be used as a sole benefactor to truth, because it can prove at least something, and that this "something" is of enough value to make science the only source of truth.
Apply in the comments.
Looking forward to a great debate!
Relying on science alone is faulty, as it ignores many other realms of truth.
Science: The study of measurable data to come to a conclusion based on that data.
Relying: dependent upon.
Alone: without any others.
Truth: what is correct.
There are many things that can be tested by science. I won't argue that science is no necessary in life. What I will argue is that relying upon science as the sole guide to find truth is faulty.
Science relies upon measurable data. A scientist can't just ask a person whether or not they are happy, they need to know how happy that person is, why that person is happy, what made them happy, etc. A scientist can't just ask a person if they are in pain, they need to know how much pain that person feels, why that person feels that pain, and so on. In short, emotions, morals, feelings, and societal systems cannot be tested by the scientific method. These are still important elements of life, and reliance on science alone is to ignore other realms of truth.
Thus ends my opening.
These are substantially different resolutions - the former makes the radical claim that science cannot prove anything, whereas the latter only makes the claim that there is knowledge outside of science. Moreover, my opponent has not provided any arguments to support the resolution we are actually debating, which says that science cannot prove anything.
I would like to remind readers of Pro's stipulation regarding topicality: "Both sides must stay on subject. If someone strays away from topic, it is grounds for forfeit."
Regardless, my opponent has made some arguments for an interesting claim that I disagree with, so I will address those in the remainder of this speech.
My opponent's argument is essentially the following syllogism:
1. Science cannot deal with anything that is not measurable.
2. Emotions, morals, feelings, and societal systems are not measurable.
3. Therefore, science cannot deal with emotions, morals, feelings, and societal systems.
I will be objecting to premise 2 of this argument.
First of all, my opponent claims that science can't just ask a person if they are happy, they have to ask them how happy they are, why they are happy, etc. This is not true - saying "I am happy" is a measurement. Happiness refers to a delimited area on the spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness to joy. When you say you are happy, you're saying "my emotional state is within such and such a range," which is a measurement. My opponent's requirements that we know how happy someone is or why they are happy are entirely unnecessary for scientific study.
My opponent also claims that morality is incapable of being measured. I disagree with this - as an egoist, I think morality can be measured, by measuring an action's effects on our long term well being. Ayn Rand defended this position in detail in her essay "The Objectivist Ethics," which you can read below.
To sum up, my opponent has not presented any arguments for the actual resolution we are debating and his arguments for the resolution he argued for are flawed. Thank you.
I thank my opponent for his opening. I'll move on to constructives. First, a rebuttal of Con's opening.
1) These are substantially different resolutions - the former makes the radical claim that science cannot prove anything, whereas the latter only makes the claim that there is knowledge outside of science. Moreover, my opponent has not provided any arguments to support the resolution we are actually debating, which says that science cannot prove anything.
No, not exactly. What I am arguing is that there are other realms of truth outside of science, and science cannot prove anything in these areas. Secondly, although I forgot to add it in my opening, science by definition cannot prove anything. It can only make something more or less likely to be true. That's because science's theories are tentative and provisional, meaning that they are never final (1). Thus my argument is two pronged:
1) Science should not be relied upon as the sole benifactor of truth (the first part of my resolution, put into different words), and
2) Science cannnot prove anything both
a) inside of it's constrictions (measurable data), and
b) outside of it's constrictions (unmeasurable data).
I haven't gone off topic, as Con would have you belive, I've expanded my argument to encompass all of truth, and show how science cannot give any of this truth, and thus cannot be relied upon as the sole benefactor said truth.
2)First of all, my opponent claims that science can't just ask a person if they are happy, they have to ask them how happy they are, why they are happy, etc. This is not true - saying "I am happy" is a measurement. Happiness refers to a delimited area on the spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness to joy. When you say you are happy, you're saying "my emotional state is within such and such a range," which is a measurement.
My question to Con would be where the other emotions fall on this spectrum. Where does pleasure fall? Is it above happiness or bellow? Where does loneliness fall on this "spectrum of emotions?"
If Con answers "it depends," it means he himself acnoledges that emotion requires backround questioning of how much of that emotion s/he is feeling, and that there is no definite measurement for emotions, thus contradicting his opening statement. He would concede that there is no definite "emotional spectrum," and thus, emotions cannot be measured.
If Con answers "I don't know," then emotions have no scale on which they lie, and thus cannot be measured. Then Con would concede emotions have no place in science. Love, happiness, and all other emotions that make us human must be disregarded by science.
If Con answers "Yes, and it fits here on the emotional spectrum," I would ask by what scientific authority allows him to say that difintively. If there is no definite, measurable data that was used in order for him to find this conclusion, then he is not using the scientific method to come to his conclusion, and thus, not using science to come to his conclusion. Therefore, these emotions cannot be tested by science.
All of these answers end in Con contradicting his own argument, that emotions
a) can be tested by science, and
b) are measurable, definite, and unchanging.
3) My opponent also claims that morality is incapable of being measured. I disagree with this - as an egoist, I think morality can be measured, by measuring an action's effects on our long term well being. Ayn Rand defended this position in detail in her essay "The Objectivist Ethics," which you can read below.
I'd ask you the same question as before. If I am to steal my neighbor's car, is it worse or better than if I were to steal my neighbor's purse? If you can say that one of these is definately, measurably, and always worse, than I will concede that morals can be tested and affirmed by science. However, if you say that stealing the car is worse, what if I told you that car was 15 years old, and the purse had all of my neighbor's credit cards in it? If you say that stealing the purse is worse, what if that purse was empty, and the car was a Ferrari? Would you change your mind? If so, then morals are subjective and cannot be measured.
Science, although a valuable tool in discovery of theories, has been given too much emphasis in our society. There are certain thing that science cannot test, such as sociatal systems. For example, it is widely accepted that a democracy is the best form of government, however, science cannot prove this. "It is sometimes admitted that many propositions that are affirmed by intelligent people, such as that democracy is the best form of government or that world peace depends upon world government, cannot be tested by the method of experimental science (2)." This is not to say that science has no place in our world today, but it is to say that science should not be the only diserner of truth, as it cannot prove anything either outside of it's constrictions or even inside of them. For these reasons, relying upon science alone is faulty, as it cannot prove anything.
(2) Robert M. Hutchins, The Great Conversation (The Substance of a Liberal Education), 1952.
This debate is very important, because it has direct practical implications for how we live. If we cannot rely on science alone, then reason is impotent to deal with certain areas of life, and in those areas we have no choice but to rely on irrational forms of mysticism. Every period in history that was dominated by this epistemology, like the Middle Ages, was a period of darkness, poverty, and despair. If any debate matters, this one does.
Science depends on induction and on measurement, which my opponent has challenged, so I will begin by demonstrating that induction is a valid form of proof and that everything that exists is measurable. Once I have done that, I will apply this theoretical foundation to the three areas of life my opponent says science cannot be applied to.
Induction is the form of inference that moves from particular to universal, as opposed to deduction, which moves from universal to particular. When I argue that "all men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is mortal," I am making a deductive inference. When I infer the universal claim that all men are mortal from studying many particular cases of men dying, I am making an inductive inference.
The ability of induction to prove things cannot rationally be doubted, since all knowledge ultimately stems from induction. The premises of a deductive argument have to be based, at bottom, on induction from observed instances. If induction isn't proof, then no conclusion can be proven, including the conclusion that induction isn't valid.
However, rather than irrationally doubting induction itself, we might wonder how induction works. Induction can prove a conclusion in two ways.
First, many simple causal connections are self evident. For example, when a child pushes a ball and sees that it rolls, he can see immediately that there is a causal connection between his pushing a ball and its rolling. There is no rational doubt about the existence of a causal connection here.
Second, more advanced causal connections can be discovered by means of Mill's methods of agreement and difference. Mill's methods are based on the premise that if we observe that A is always followed by B, and we have eliminated all other relevant variables, then there must be a causal connection between A and B. 
An example of Mill's methods at work would be Benjamin Franklin's discovery that lightning is composed of electricity. During a lightning storm, Franklin attached a key to a kite along with a Leyden flask, a flask that is only charged if it has come into contact with an electrical charge. After the kite was struck by lightning, Franklin checked the Leyden flask for a charge, and found one.
This experiment establishes, inductively and with certainty, that lightning is composed of electricity. The flask was not charged before it came into contact with the lightning, and it was charged afterward. All other relevant variables have been eliminated by the experimental setup. Therefore, lightning must be composed of electricity - there is no rational doubt.
This completes my defense of science against my opponent's charge that science cannot provide proof. Science can prove things using induction, which is undeniably a valid form of reasoning.
Science is based on measurement, but what is measurement? I quote Ayn Rand from one of her most important works, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: "Measurement is the identification of a relationship - a quantitative relationship established by means of a standard that serves as a unit." 
From this definition, it should be clear that anything that exists must be measurable. If something exists, then it is something in particular, i.e., it has definite attributes - this is the law of identity. If something has definite attributes, then it must be capable of being quantitatively compared to other things that exist, either by means of the cardinal numbers or the ordinal numbers.
To explain this last point, the cardinal numbers are the numbers "1, 2, 3, 4..." and so on. When we compare two things using the cardinal numbers, we say how many of one there are in the other. For example, "this is five feet long" takes the standard foot as the standard and says that the thing being measured contains five feet. The ordinal numbers are the numbers "first, second, third..." and so on. They compare one thing to the other, as in "this is longer than that."
So, anything that exists should be measurable - you should always be able to say that it has some specific cardinal or ordinal relationship to something else you know of.
Having shown that induction is a valid form of proof and that everything that exists is measurable, I will now demonstrate that science is applicable to all of the areas of life my opponent says it isn't.
According to Ayn Rand, every psychological process has two measurable attributes, intensity and scope. These are measured comparatively, using the ordinal numbers - we don't say "Bob is five times happier than Sue," but we might say "Bob is happier than Sue."
In the case of happiness, intensity is measured by reference to the relationship of the fact being evaluated to the hierarchy of the person's values. The happiness a person feels when eating a cheeseburger is objectively less intense than the happiness he feels when getting a promotion at work that he has always wanted, because these facts occupy different positions in his value hierarchy.
There is not a single "spectrum of emotions," as my opponent misunderstands my previous post. One emotion can be measured in multiple ways, and different emotions may require different standards of measurement. Still, the fact remains that any emotion is measurable.
The standard of measurement in morality, as I argued previously, is the actor's life. Every action a person takes can be evaluated by this standard, by comparing it to the other alternatives available to him.
My opponent's only objection to my claim that morality is measurable is that whether or not one action is more moral than the other depends on the circumstances. For example, stealing a car can be more or less immoral than stealing a purse, depending on the value of the car and purse.
The response to this is simply that we have to take all of the facts into account when we make our measurement. Given all of the facts about a specific case, we will always be able to show objectively that one action is more or less (or equally) immoral.
My opponent claims that we cannot show scientifically that democracy is the best form of government. However, given what I have argued about induction and measurement, it should be clear that this is possible. We can use Mill's methods to establish that societies that respect people's rights are better than dictatorships on nearly every criterion.
I do not mean to imply that political questions are always easy to answer, but it should be clear that careful measurement and induction from observation is the best method to use. The only alternative is mysticism.
I did two things in this speech.
First, I defended the theoretical basis of science, including:
1. Induction, inference from particular to universal. It is self refuting to reject induction. Further, countless inductive claims have been proven with certainty. Mill's methods are an important case.
2. Measurement, identification of a quantitative relationship by means of a standard. I showed that everything is measurable.
Second, I showed that science applies to three areas of life:
1. The emotions can be measured comparatively.
2. Morality can be measured by reference to the actor's life.
3. Political judgments can be established by applying Mill's methods to history.
For these reasons, we should negate. Thank you.
1) The ability of induction to prove things cannot rationally be doubted, since all knowledge ultimately stems from induction. The premises of a deductive argument have to be based, at bottom, on induction from observed instances. If induction isn't proof, then no conclusion can be proven, including the conclusion that induction isn't valid.
I agree. However, science's use of induction cannot be used to prove something. Science relies upon the use of measurable data and coming to a conclusion based on those facts. However, one must know that when coming to this conclusion, there is no way to know whether or not the facts that one did not analyse agree with this conclusion. It is for this reason that science cannot definitively prove anything, as you cannot know whether or not facts you didn't analyse agree with your conclusion.
As an example, it was Aristotle's scientific conclusion that the Earth was flat. He observed the Earth, saw how it didn't seem curved, saw how the sun seemed to revolve around the Earth, saw how the moon did the same, and came to the conclusion that the Earth was flat, using induction. However, when new evidence came out that contradicted this claim, such as the studies of Copernicus and Galileo, his theory was disproven. It only takes one solid counterexample to disprove anything that science finds.
Also, this "valid form of reasoning" that Con discusses shows my point exactly. Induction and deduction is a form of logic, and logic can indeed prove things to be true or false. When Con says that induction is science, he is horribly mistaken. I'll cite my source again, it talks in more detail about the differences between logic and science (1).
2) Science is based on measurement, but what is measurement? I quote Ayn Rand from one of her most important works, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology: "Measurement is the identification of a relationship - a quantitative relationship established by means of a standard that serves as a unit."
You seem to have not quoted your source fully. I'll do it for you. "Measurement is the identification of a relationship—a quantitative relationship established by means of a standard that serves as a unit. Entities (and their actions) are measured by their attributes (length, weight, velocity, etc.) and the standard of measurement is a concretely specified unit representing the appropriate attribute (2)." From this, I think I can tell why you left the second sentence out of your argument, as it talks of concretely specified units, and the examples it gives are length, weight, and velocity, all of which are concrete (2). However, this does not pertain to that of abstract ideas, like the ones I have presented, ones that cannot have a concrete measurement.
Also, I might add that this source also speaks to a point we both brought up: emotions. To cite your own source, "For instance, the intensity of the emotion of joy in response to certain facts varies according to the importance of these facts in one’s hierarchy of values; it varies in such cases as buying a new suit, or getting a raise in pay, or marrying the person one loves (2)." This contradicts what you argued in your round 2 argument, "First of all, my opponent claims that science can't just ask a person if they are happy, they have to ask them how happy they are, why they are happy, etc. This is not true - saying "I am happy" is a measurement. Happiness refers to a delimited area on the spectrum of emotions ranging from sadness to joy. When you say you are happy, you're saying "my emotional state is within such and such a range," which is a measurement. My opponent's requirements that we know how happy someone is or why they are happy are entirely unnecessary for scientific study (Round 2, Con)." The sources Con depends upon contradict his own arguments.
3) There is not a single "spectrum of emotions," as my opponent misunderstands my previous post. One emotion can be measured in multiple ways, and different emotions may require different standards of measurement. Still, the fact remains that any emotion is measurable.
You haven't answered my question I posed. If you remember, I asked by what scientific authority can you place an emotion higher than another? You have offered no definite, concrete measurement by which I can say that the pleasure I receive while eating a cheeseburger makes one happier than, say, my friend eating a cheeseburger. If it is relative between people, it is not a concrete measurement, and thus, has no basis in science. It's as if I were to measure out a room in square feet, and you were to do the same. However, we use our own feet instead of 12 inches, thus using different measurements. Would you say that it is scientific to say that relative and subjective measurements can in fact be considered truth?
4) The standard of measurement in morality, as I argued previously, is the actor's life. Every action a person takes can be evaluated by this standard, by comparing it to the other alternatives available to him.
So then, by your reasoning, in the moment, I am unaware which option would be morally acceptable or improper. I'll explain.
I see a purse, and I see a car. I am unaware of how much that car is valued at, how old it is, etc. I also do not know what is inside of the purse, whether or not the purse is valuable, and so on. In the moment, I have no idea which is the "better" choice, as pertaining to morality. However, I have made up my mind to steal one of them, and let's say I steal the purse. Now, there are alternatives that I still do not know about, and that is as it pertains to the future. Will I be caught by the police? The boyfriend of the person I stole from? Or perhaps I won't be caught at all? If I am not caught, then my life is bettered by my actions, thus making my theft morally acceptable, right? In other words, morality can only be judged after the fact, and your stating that there is a definitive way of knowing and measuring one's actions requires you to speculate about the future. This is something that is clearly unscientific, as there is no way to test the future.
5) We can use Mill's methods to establish that societies that respect people's rights are better than dictatorships on nearly every criterion.
Which criterions? What scientific authority states that people have "rights," such as freedom, liberty, etc.?
I have proven 3 points in my arguments. They are, as follows:
1) Relying upon science alone is faulty.
2) Science cannot prove anything
a) inside it's constrictions, and
b) outside it's constrictions.
I have shown these statements to be true because:
1) There are things that science cannot test, and thus, science is not an authority over any of these areas.
2a) Science's theories are tentative and provisional, meaning that they are never final (1).
2b) These things that are cannot be tested by science are not able to be measured by a concrete, definite, and unchanging relationship between them. Inches have a concrete, definite, and unchanging relationship to a foot (12" = 1'), grams have a concrete, definite, and unchanging relationship to a kilogram (1000g = 1kg), but happiness does not have a concrete, definite, and unchanging relationship to joy (5 x happiness does not equal joy).
For these reasons, vote Pro.
In this post, I'll defend induction and measurement against my opponent's objections.
My opponent simply has not addressed my argument on this point, not even in passing. Doubting the ability of induction or science to provide proofs is self refuting, because all knowledge is based on induction at bottom, so anyone who argues against induction must admit that his own position is unproven.
My opponent's did not object to this argument - he actually said "I agree." He did give an example of an inductive claim that turned out to be mistaken and cite a scientist who agrees with him that induction cannot prove anything, but if he agrees that it is self refuting to doubt induction's ability to provide proof then those points are irrelevant.
Still, I will briefly comment on his example and his appeal to authority.
My opponent puts forward the example of believing that the earth was flat. The problem with this argument is that it was never scientifically established that the earth was flat, that was just part of a pre-rational unscientific worldview that included all sorts of other superstitions. As soon as the ancient Greeks discovered science, they figured out that the earth was round, which Aristotle himself argued, contrary to my opponent's misinformed claim.
Scientific claims can be refined by further research, but these aren't huge, random lurches, they just fill in the gaps in what we already knew. For example, Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum mechanics are completely consistent with Newton's earlier discoveries in physics, although they apply to different scales. Knowledge builds on knowledge.
As for my opponent's authority, the scientist he cites doesn't really argue for the claim that induction can't prove things, he just assumes that all proof has to be like proof in formal logic, which is an arbitrary assertion. Anyone who seriously studies the case for evolution or Newton's laws can see that these theories have been proven beyond all reasonable doubt.
To be fair, there are some scientists who accept my opponent's position about induction, but that is due to the influence of Karl Popper's philosophy of science, which is seriously deficient.
My opponent criticizes me for "not quoting my source fully," implying that I was disingenuously concealing other things that my source said.
No, I just didn't want to quote ten paragraphs of text that aren't relevant to the discussion. I quoted the definition, which was the part of the source that was relevant. Next time you quote someone, you had better quote the entire article or book you are quoting from, lest you "not quote your source fully!"
My opponent then goes on at length about how there is no concrete standard for measuring emotions and how I allegedly contradicted my source. No.
The standard of measurement for emotions is ordinal, as I said, which means comparative measurement. The concrete standard for one emotion is just another emotion, as in "Bob is happier than Sue." An emotion involves abstract ideas, but it is itself a concrete mental entity.
My opponent claims that I contradicted my source by claiming that there is a spectrum of emotions, while my source claims that emotions are measured by reference to a person's hierarchy of values. No, they are the same claim. The relevance of a fact to a person's hierarchy of values creates a spectrum, ranging from very relevant to not relevant. Strong emotions occur at the top, and weaker emotions at the bottom. There is no contradiction here.
Science and Emotions
My opponent claims that I have "offered no definite, concrete measurement by which I can say that the pleasure I receive while eating a cheeseburger makes one happier than, say, my friend eating a cheeseburger."
No, I discussed this at length in my last post. The definite, concrete standard for one emotion is another emotion, compared by reference to a person's hierarchy of values. This is how ordinal, comparative measurement works. I went over my definition of measurement, what ordinal measurement is, and how ordinal measurement applies to the intensity of happiness at length in my previous post.
Science and Morality
My opponent objects to my definition of morality on the grounds that it implies that he would not be able to predict what would happen if he stole a purse, and thus certain situations could not be evaluated scientifically.
This is an advanced issue in Objectivist ethics, so I can't go into all the details, but the essential reason why you cannot predict what will happen after stealing a purse scientifically is that you have violated a moral principle by stealing the purse.
If you violate a moral principle, there is no objective way of making your subsequent decisions. You can only guess, moment by moment, what course of action will be best for you to take to avoid detection. The facts will be against you, because you did steal the purse, and if that is ever brought to light you will be arrested. Your only hope is to rely on the incompetence, weakness, and ignorance of the police and the people around you. You might get away with it, of course, but you don't know that you will.
In cases where someone is acting morally, moral principles do serve as a reliable guide. Morality can tell you that living an honest, productive life is a reliable way to become happy, for example.
Science and Social Systems
My opponent asks how I can demonstrate scientifically that people have rights, and by what criterion. The demonstration is simply that rights respecting nations do better by nearly any rational criterion than dictatorships, whether productivity, quality of life, number of concentration camps, etc.
For details, see the histories of the United States, Nazi Germany, Iran, and Soviet Russia. The rights respecting countries do better in the long run than the rights violating countries.
There were essentially five points at issue in this debate, so I will address each of those in turn.
1. Can induction provide proof?
I showed that doubting induction's ability to provide proof is self refuting, and my opponent agreed with my argument. I have also refuted each of my opponent's objections to induction in this post.
2. Is everything measurable?
My opponent did not address my argument in my previous post, based on the law of identity, that everything that exists must be measurable. Therefore, this argument flows through.
3. Are the emotions measurable?
I argued that happiness can be measured using ordinal measurement based on our hierarchy of values in my previous speech. My opponent has not directly addressed this argument or shown that he understands it.
4. Is morality measurable?
I provided an objective standard for measuring the morality of an action in my previous speech. My opponent objected based on the fact that we can't know for sure what will happen if we steal a purse, which I argued in this speech is a special case resulting from seriously violating a moral principle. If we are moral, morality can provide reliable, scientific guidance.
5. Can science prove political claims?
I have argued that the data of history provides strong evidence that we can use to prove political claims, like the fact that we have rights. Countries that respect rights are generally successful, and countries that do not generally are not.
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