Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Dismal scientific world view

It was useful to my own self-analysis to compare a scientific world view to a religious world view. I tend to slip into an Economic world view often enough to confuse any philosophical argument. Economics is often labelled (even by economists) the "dismal science" in the sense that broad approximations have to be made with any model, and this leaves it open to the type of criticisms which just wouldn't fly with any other science. The more complex the model, the more useful it can be, but the less likely a lay person can understand it enough to agree with it. Thus people's concept of an economy in some circumstances, can be completely wrong because of the model used.

Thus the same concept I have for a world view. Religions as various models describe reality imperfectly but usefully. So what of my (non)belief in God? What, if not God is tracking the absolute morality which I believe exists regardless of people believing it exists? Well, an all-seeing God is useful but imperfect model therefore.

3 comments:

Dr. Clam said...

I think most people avoid awareness of the limitations in their world views by never performing the kind of self-analysis you describe. If your worldview remains implicit and you do not try to define it, you can go along happily; once you start trying to define it, not only will you uncover a myriad of deficiencies, you will almost certainly rapidly find yourself speaking language nobody else can understand...
I think the economic viewpoint is immensely valuable. 'What are the probable consequences of action X?' is the main question decision makers need to ask, and while economics is an imperfect way to quantify some of those consequences, it is far better than the common practice of simply asserting 'action X will address problem Y' without evidence, which seems to be the perennial habit of decision makes in government and business. In my limited experience...

Marco said...

Well, I used to rather like keeping my world view to myself. But if someone asks me - do you believe in God? I keep thinking that it is a loaded question. Taking an economic world view, the "model" of a monotheistic God works in most situations, but to me is too simplistic and implies a deterministic Universe.

To your point about speaking language nobody can understand; philosophers are sure to have the right words and definitions if one could be bothered to find out.

Dr. Clam said...

Yes, when I was younger I would have leapt right into discussion if someone asked me 'do you believe in God?', but now I know I have to begin by saying, 'how do you define God?'