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Re: Culture Development

 X-NETCOM-Date: Fri Jun 28  8:51:09 PM CDT 1996
 In <> (Dan Bongard)
 >Scott D. Orr ( wrote:
 >: Dictionary definitions, while not utterly meaningless, do not really
 >: cut it in a detailed epistemological (that is, why things is the way
 >: they is) discussion.  Furthermore, it's entirely possible that such
 >: definitions may, as they seem to have done in this case, simply
 >: common intellectual biases that are ultimately unsustainable.
 >Nice use of $0.25 words there, but completely wrong as usual.
 That's reassuringly arrogant of you.
 >No, Scott. Defining your terms is the first step in ANY rational
 Absolutely, which is why a good part of the discussion has been taken
 up in defining terms.  But dictionary definitions are very seldom the
 best definitions availabe -- for any term that's used in scholarly
 dicussion, the definitions used by scholars will be considerably more
 To an extent, definitions can be arbitrary, so long as you state them
 beforehand.  However, they should be easily graspable, and they should
 describe categories that are analytically useful.
 In the case in question, the dictionary definitions in question, IMHO,
 did not correspond very well to the real-world phenomena that are
 commonly labeled "religion" and "science".  Hence, while we could have
 stuck with those definitions and argued the question that really
 interested us by using different terms, I (and others) chose to argue
 instead that using definitions that corresponded more closely to the
 phenomena described by the real-world usages (rather than noting only
 the superficial or commonly misperceived aspects of those phenomena)
 would be more useful and less confusing than using the dictionary
 >: Naturally, the result is that "religion" is concentrated almost
 >: exclusively on things for which little evidence exists, while
 >: "science" (if we exclude rationalist philosophy from science --
 >: something I don't think is absolutely proper) is concentrated almost
 >: exclusively on things for which considerable evidence exists.
 >This is also incorrect. The only empirical/material questions which
 >religion has stopped researching are those for which science has
 >alrady found answers. The best example being the structure of the
 >solar system.
 That's quite an exercise in creative deletion on your part.  In the
 text that you snipped, I had stated that religion had given way to
 science on most empirical questions only in the modern period; your
 assertions above confirm rather than dispute that argument.
 >Indeed in some cases (such as abortion), religious
 >'research' continues despite empirical evidence.
 I don't think there's any "empirical" disagreement on the fact that
 in an abortion, a live fetus is killed.  The area of dispute (one
 certainly informed by the empirical findings -- primarily scientific
 ones in this modern age) is on the moral status of that fetus and of
 the act that is perfromed upon the fetus.
 >On the flip side, science does not deal with things "for which