Saturday, June 5, 2010

Origin of Mind, Man, Morals, etc



FOCUS: Perhaps the most direct challenge that the evolutionary materialist paradigm faces is to account for mind, morality and "mannishness" more generally.  As a result, we see the impact of Chalmers' unresolved hard problem of consciousness, to account for "why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences"  such as being aware of being appeared to red-ly on seeing a red ball. The Derek Smith two-level controller cybernetic model provides a useful context for thinking about mindedness, and sets the context in which other aspects of our existence as minded and morally governed creatures can be explored. These issues set up the next stage, the exploration of origins science in society.
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TOPICS:

INTRODUCTION

(a) What is “mind”?

--> the hard problem of consciousness

--> defining/describing "mind"

(b) The Darwinian view

(c) Of neurons, brains and minds

--> the Derek Smith cybernetic model

--> self -referentiality and materialist models of mind

--> Haldane's chemical vs logical soundness dilemma

(d) Evolutionary materialism, morality and the is-ought gap


--> Will Hawthorne on the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialistic naturalism

--> The Euthyphro dilemma, Locke, Hooker and a sounder base for morality and liberty

NEXT: Origins Science in Society



The first and most directly evident fact of “man-nishness” is that we are individual, conscious, intelligent, purposeful, designing, minded beings; with consciences. Thus, Aristotle long ago observed that rational animality is the essence of being human. So, not only must we be able to credibly account for our anatomical similarity to the mammalian primates (including the commonly made claim that our genes show a "98%" overlap with those of the chimpanzees), but also for the things that seem to make us unique: that pattern of conscious, language-using abstract reasoning, intuitiveness and sense of obligation to the truth and the right that embraces both the intellectual and the moral. 

(a) What is “mind”?

We have always wondered about where we came from, and why we so obviously share bodily existence with the broad world of animals, but simultaneously seem to be ever so distinctively different from what some have called "dumb animals."

The word "dumb" offers a key clue: man is the user of words, those symbolic sounds and pen-strokes that are so important in both practical survival and abstract thought. So, no scientific account of man can be correct or credible, if it cannot coherently and satisfactorily account for not just the bodily facts of man, but the common evidence of our inner life. For, we are only aware of and can only analyse and argue about our bodily existence and the external world through the instrumentality of our inner life of the mind. In this sense, Descartes' "I think, so I exist," is undeniably and self-evidently  true.

This leads to what David Chalmers (1995) called The Hard Problem of Consciousness. As one might outline:

The term . . . refers to the difficult problem of explaining why we have qualitative phenomenal experiences. It is contrasted with the "easy problems" of explaining the ability to discriminate, integrate information, report mental states, focus attention, etc. Easy problems are easy because all that is required for their solution is to specify a mechanism that can perform the function. That is, their proposed solutions, regardless of how complex or poorly understood they may be, can be entirely consistent with the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomen[[a]. Hard problems are distinct from this set because they "persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained."

Let us note a key phrase: "the modern materialistic conception of natural phenomen[[a]." That is, we again see the evolutionary materialistic presumption at work. As the University of California's Center for Evolutionary Psychology at Santa Barbera posits:

Evolutionary psychology is based on the recognition that the human brain consists of a large collection of functionally specialized computational devices that evolved to solve the adaptive problems regularly encountered by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Because humans share a universal evolved architecture, all ordinary individuals reliably develop a distinctively human set of preferences, motives, shared conceptual frameworks, emotion programs, content-specific reasoning procedures, and specialized interpretation systems--programs that operate beneath the surface of expressed cultural variability, and whose designs constitute a precise definition of human nature.

But, the matter is not so simple as that, for as another generic source aptly summarises, there are many issues on mind and its relation to body, issues that (whether labelled science or not) are plainly directly relevant to any origins science project to account for the origin of man:

Mind is a concept developed by self-conscious humans trying to understand what is the self that is conscious and how does that self relate to its perceived world . . . Aspects of mind are also attributed to complex animals, which are commonly considered to be conscious. Studies in recent decades suggest strongly that the great apes have a level of self-consciousness as well.

Philosophers have long sought to understand what is mind and its relationship to matter and the body . . . Based on his world model that the perceived world is only a shadow of the real world of ideal Forms, Plato, a dualist, conceived of mind (or reason) as the facet of the tripartite soul that can know the Forms. The soul existed independent of the body, and its highest aspect, mind, was immortal. Aristotle, apparently both a monist and a dualist, insisted in The Soul that soul was unitary, that soul and body are aspects of one living thing, and that soul extends into all living things. Yet in other writings from another period of his life, Aristotle expressed the dualistic view that the knowing function of the human soul, the mind, is distinctively immaterial and eternal.

Saint Augustine adapted from the Neoplatonism of his time the dualist view of soul as being immaterial but acting through the body. He linked mind and soul closely in meaning. Some 900 years later, in an era of recovering the wisdom of Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas identified the species, man, as being the composite substance of body and soul (or mind), with soul giving form to body, a monistic position somewhat similar to Aristotle's. Yet Aquinas also adopted a dualism regarding the rational soul, which he considered to be immortal. Christian views after Aquinas have diverged to cover a wide spectrum, but generally they tend to focus on soul instead of mind, with soul referring to an immaterial essence and core of human identity and to the seat of reason, will, conscience, and higher emotions.

Rene Descartes established the clear mind-body dualism that has dominated the thought of the modern West. He introduced two assertions: First, that mind and soul are the same and that henceforth he would use the term mind and dispense with the term soul; Second, that mind and body were two distinct substances, one immaterial and one material, and the two existed independent of each other except for one point of interaction in the human brain.

In the East, quite different theories related to mind were discussed and developed by Adi Shankara, Siddhārtha Gautama, and other ancient Indian philosophers, as well as by Chinese scholars.

As psychology became a science starting in the late nineteenth century and blossomed into a major scientific discipline in the twentieth century, the prevailing view in the scientific community came to be variants of physicalism with the assumption that all the functions attributed to mind are in one way or another derivative from activities of the brain. Countering this mainstream view, a small group of neuroscientists has persisted in searching for evidence suggesting the possibility of a human mind existing and operating apart from the brain.

In the late twentieth century as diverse technologies related to studying the mind and body have been steadily improved, evidence has emerged suggesting such radical concepts as: the mind should be associated not only with the brain but with the whole body; and the heart may be a center of consciousness complementing the brain. [[New World Enc., article, Mind]

So, we may pose a cluster of challenges in seeking a scientific account of our human-ness.

1 --> While the evolutionary materialists plainly dominate institutional science, it faces the hard -- and plainly unsolved -- problem of consciousness.

2 -->  Available philosophical resources and the history of ideas suggest that alternative explanatory models will raise the issue of the reality of an immaterial mind.

3 --> A central challenge for any such alternative model, is whether it can produce empirically testable hypotheses, a key touchstone of science.

4 --> Equally, the materialistic approach must face the challenge as to whether its favoured methodological naturalism imposes an undue censorship that hobbles science from being able to be an unfettered (but intellectually and ethically responsible) pursuit of the truth about our world.

5 --> Similarly, we now must ask: what does (or should) "empirical" mean? And, does thoughtful reflection on our common inner life experience count as empirical evidence? Why, or why not?

6 --> If not, how can we then use the deliverances of said inner life as we undertake scientific activities, which, are plainly an intellectual – i.e. minded – exercise?

Such challenges will not be easy to resolve, but a useful place to begin with is the question of the origin of man.

(b) The Darwinian view

From 1858-59, with the rise of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, it seemed "logical" to explain man and mind on evolutionary terms, in light of forces and circumstances of chance variation and natural selection. And, in an era in which physicalism was a growing force in science and philosophy, it seemed credible that man was wholly material, and even where this could not be "proved" beyond reasonable doubt or dispute, it seemed plausible to many that the most successful strategy for investigation in science was to assume that observed phenomena were the product of matter and energy interacting in space and time based on forces of chance and necessity and things derivative therefrom.

Thus, we read from part of Darwin's opening argument in Descent of Man (1871), Ch 1:

. . . It is notorious that man is constructed on the same general type or model as other mammals. All the bones in his skeleton can be compared with corresponding bones in a monkey, bat, or seal. So it is with his muscles, nerves, blood-vessels and internal viscera. The brain, the most important of all the organs, follows the same law, as shewn by Huxley and other anatomists. Bischoff,* who is a hostile witness, admits that every chief fissure and fold in the brain of man has its analogy in that of the orang; but he adds that at no period of development do their brains perfectly agree; nor could perfect agreement be expected, for otherwise their mental powers would have been the same . . . it would be superfluous here to give further details on the correspondence between man and the higher mammals in the structure of the brain and all other parts of the body. [[Emphasis added.]

Darwin extends the basic argument of Origin to the origin of man. In so doing, he strongly (albeit implicitly) couples the brain size and shape of man to both mental faculties and to those of our presumed nearest cousins, the primates. This is suggested by the following relationship that may be seen from contemporary primates:



Fig. G.15:  Skulls and typical brain sizes of man and primates. [[For comparison, brain tissue will be about as dense as water: ~ 1g/cc. A typical modern human skull has a typical brain capacity 1,350 - 1,400 cc; but ranges ~ 950 – 2000 cc.]   (Courtesy: New World Encyclopedia; CCL Author: Christopher Walsh, Harvard Medical School.)  

Darwin's theory also set off the quest for fossil ancestors of man, ranging from Neandertal man, to Java Man, to Piltdown Man, to Nebraska Man, to the Taung Child and Peking Man and so forth; on to the overall picture we may see in -- for instance -- the following modern scheme:




Fig G.16: One model of the Human Evolutionary Tree, illustrating continental dispersion of categorised fossils (Courtesy: Wikipedia; CCL Authors: Reed DL, Smith VS, Hammond SL, Rogers AR, Clayton DH; Appears in PLoS Biology Vol. 2, No. 11, e340 doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020340)





Fig G.17: A Chart of the current view on the wider taxonomical "family tree" of man [[NB: the "tribal" sub-grouping Hominini, enclosing man and Chimpanzees.]  (Courtesy: Wikimedia)

This critical video summary will help us understand the issues that lurk behind the confident way fossil evidence and proposed human ancestral "trees" are often presented: 

 

Fig, G.17(a): A Critical video summary of the proposed human ancestral tree (Source: Edinburgh Creation Group)

A related point is the common claim that our genome makes us "98 - 99% Chimpanzee," which is a good part of why we are now grouped with chimps as taxonomic tribe Homini.  

First, though, the count is a bit misleading. As Glazko et al remarked in 2005 in the journal Gene:

The chimpanzee is our closest living relative. The morphological differences between the two species are so large that there is no problem in distinguishing between them. However, the nucleotide difference between the two species is surprisingly small. The early genome comparison by DNA hybridization techniques suggested a nucleotide difference of 1-2%. Recently, direct nucleotide sequencing confirmed this estimate. These findings generated the common belief that the human is extremely close to the chimpanzee at the genetic level. However, if one looks at proteins, which are mainly responsible for phenotypic differences, the picture is quite different, and about 80% of proteins are different between the two species. Still, the number of proteins responsible for the phenotypic differences may be smaller since not all genes are directly responsible for phenotypic characters. [[Glazko G, Veeramachaneni V, Nei M, & Makałowski W. "Eighty percent of proteins are different between humans and chimpanzees," Gene. 2005 Feb 14; 346:215-9. Abstract. (HT: BA 77) ]
 Also, as a Nature News article reported in 2004 on the comparison of chimp chromosome 22 with the comparable human chromosome 21:
We already knew that around 98.5% of the base pairs that make up our DNA are the same as those in chimps. So the old idea was that all the things that differentiate us from apes, such as highly developed cognitive functions, walking upright and the use of complex language, should come from the other 1.5%.

Scientists had hoped this would mean the key genetic changes that enabled such traits to evolve would be easy to find. But the latest evidence suggests that the journey from ape to human was much more complex.

Todd Taylor at the Riken Genomic Sciences Center in Yokohama, Japan, and his colleagues have read the DNA sequence of chimpanzee chromosome 22, and compared it to its human counterpart, chromosome 21. Although a draft sequence of the chimp genome has been available since August 2003, this is the first sequence of a whole chimp chromosome that is accurate enough for researchers to be sure that any differences between the two species are real, and not just data errors . . . . 

The sequences of chimp chromosome 22 and human chromosome 21 are roughly equivalent. Out of the bits that line up, 1.44% of the individual base pairs were different, settling a debate based on previous, less accurate studies.

However, the researchers were in for a surprise. Because chimps and humans appear broadly similar, some have assumed that most of the differences would occur in the large regions of DNA that do not appear to have any obvious function. But that was not the case. The researchers report in Nature1that many of the differences were within genes, the regions of DNA that code for proteins. 83% of the 231 genes compared had differences that affected the amino acid sequence of the protein they encoded. And 20% showed "significant structural changes".

In addition, there were nearly 68,000 regions that were either extra or missing between the two sequences, accounting for around 5% of the chromosome. "We already knew that at the DNA level we are similar to chimpanzees," says Taylor. "But we have seen a much higher percentage of change than people speculated."

The researchers also carried out some experiments to look at when and how strongly the genes are switched on. 20% of the genes showed significant differences in their pattern of activity . . . . The researchers have already identified two genes called NCAM2 and GRIK1, the human versions of which contain large sections that are missing in the chimp. Both genes are known to be involved in neural function. [[Nelson, L. "Chimp chromosome creates puzzles," Nature News, 27 May 2004. HT: BA 77]
 So, first, it is aligned segments that are often compared and it was assumed that most of the differences would be in what used to be considered "junk DNA." But when  protein coding segments were closely examined, significant differences appeared.  Thus, the 2% difference figure is plainly misleading if it is given without this context.

Moreover, even if it were true, the “98%” figure would boil down to saying that we are made up from much the same molecular “bricks” as chimps are. But also, our molecular bricks are fairly similar to those of a carp or a banana or a yeast, with sequence similarities often up to 80% or more and fairly minor differences otherwise. So, are we ~ 70 - 80% carp or banana or yeast etc?

In short, we see here an implicit discounting of what is not being counted.

And, what is not being counted is plainly sufficient to account, for instance, for the fact that we are physically equipped to use abstract, voiced, verbal language. Chimps -- experiments to get them to use symbolic buttons notwithstanding -- are not.

Building on this, the Darwinist picture lends itself to a materialistic view in which the brain is the physical foundation of mind. On this view, mind is a direct and/or emergent property of brain, suggesting the research project of reducing mind to brain and its constituent parts in action; driven and dominated by genetic codes. Thus, some say that “the brain secretes thoughts as the liver secretes bile.”

However, the actual genetic studies are pointing away from so direct a degree of control. The reductionist view of mind as genetically- and- environmentally- programmed- brain- as- computer- in- action may appeal to many, but it is not as well founded as many are led to assume. In addition,   such efforts to date have notoriously failed to successfully address David Chalmers' hard problem of consciousness. To address this gap, we must turn to:

(c) Of neurons, brains and minds

The neuron (in its various types) is the key building brick of brain and nervous tissues:



Fig. G.18(a): The neuron (or, nerve cell), showing main components, input and output linkages (i.e. synapses) (Courtesy: Wikimedia)

 Fig. G.18(b): Integration of Neurons in layered networks and the brain, the body's controller, n.b. motor area. (Credits: Jedismed, Riken, HSS, India)

Neurons are interconnected in neural networks, and onward to form the brain and wider nervous system. As Christos Stergiou and Dimitrios Siganos summarise:

In the human brain, a typical neuron collects signals from others through a host of fine structures called dendrites. The neuron sends out spikes of electrical activity through a long, thin stand known as an axon, which splits into thousands of branches. At the end of each branch, a structure called a synapse converts the activity from the axon into electrical effects that inhibit or excite activity from the axon into electrical effects that inhibit or excite activity in the connected neurones. When a neuron receives excitatory input that is sufficiently large compared with its inhibitory input, it sends a spike of electrical activity down its axon. Learning occurs by changing the effectiveness of the synapses so that the influence of one neuron on another changes. [[Bold emphasis added.]

As a result, biological or artificial (i.e. electronic or software) neural networks are quite well suited to be used as processor/controller elements in cybernetic -- i.e. control -- loops, such as are used in robots. So, the human body can be seen as just such a “robot.” Engineer Derek Smith of Wales provides a useful model for such an analysis:




Fig. G.19: The Derek Smith Cybernetic Loop Model for a robot (or "bio-robot") [[as simplified] (Adapted, Derek Smith.)

In this model robotic cybernetic system:

1 --> The system interacts with the world through first taking inputs from its sensors, which communicate information on (i) the state of the world and on (ii) the current state of the system in the world. (This requires (a) a model of the world that allows interpretation of sensed data, and (b) a model of the system and how it interacts with the world.)

2 --> The robot's path is governed across time by comparing sensed and intended current states, then making adjustments to follow the desired path. [[By the way, "cybernetics" and "government" both derive from the Greek term kubernete, the steersman or pilot of a ship.])

3 --> A key feature is that there is efference copy control action. That is, the projected path is first stored, so that what is actually controlled is the difference between the ideal path and the actual path as sensed.

4 --> In support of such efference copy action, there are arrays of internal sensors – termed proprioceptors -- that report relative states and/or positions of the parts of the controlled system. [[So, the robot senses and "knows" its stance, internal state, posture and path across time as it carries out an action. That is rather like how expert athletes “visualise” and “sense” a “perfect” performance, then carry it out. Similarly, it is related to how “muscular memory” of skills like riding a bicycle, is “permanent.”])

5 --> So, we see a two-tier controller: one to set up and supervise the actual path, the other to control it relative to the ideal. This means that the two tier controller model provides a model framework for addressing the minds and bodies problem.

6 --> For, the input/ output [[i/o] controller can easily be seen as a function of neural networks. But, the supervisory level is a level of imagination, decision, intention and skill. But, also, as Plantinga cites from Patricia Churchland,  for evolutionary materialist naturalists, such a neural network cybernetic controller view (despite the confidently stated pious hopes of other naturalistic thinkers) may come at a surprisingly stiff price:
Boiled down to essentials, a nervous system enables the organism to succeed in . . .  feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing. The principal chore of nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive . . . . Improvements in sensorimotor control confer an evolutionary advantage: a fancier style of representing is advantageous so long as it is geared to the organism's way of life and enhances the organism's chances of survival [[Churchland's emphasis]. Truth, whatever that is [[ --> let's try, from Aristotle in Metaphysics, 1011b: "that which says of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not" . . . ], definitely takes the hindmost. (Plantinga also adds this from Darwin: "the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man's mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey's mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?" [[Cf. here on issues of warrant, knowledge and truth.])

7 --> Now, if the materialistic view is true, it will be possible to soundly and confidently build the supervisory level controller out of the neural networks that are available; but if it is false, then it may overlook other possible elementary constituents of reality and their inner properties.

8 --> But as Liebnitz pointed out in his famous analogy of the Mill, the parts of a machine interact through blind mechanical interactions (including chance disturbances etc), and so have no inherent rationality, imagination, intent or obligation. That is, there is an inescapable gap between the physical "is" and the logical inference, the mental “vision,” the decision or the force of "ought," much less self-awareness. Citing from his The Monadology, 17:
It must be confessed, however, that perception, and that which depends upon it, are inexplicable by mechanical causes, that is to say, by figures and motions. Supposing that there were a machine whose structure produced thought, sensation, and perception, we could conceive of it as increased in size with the same proportions until one was able to enter into its interior, as he would into a mill. Now, on going into it he would find only pieces working upon one another, but never would he find anything to explain perception [[i.e. abstract conception]. It is accordingly in the simple substance, and not in the compound nor in a machine that the perception is to be sought . . .

9 --> By contrast, mind-body dualists such as Liebnitz, are often dismissively said to be proposing an unobservable "ghost in the machine," for which there is said to be no reason to see how it can interact with the brain-body closed loop system.

10 --> However, if the proposed immaterial mind acts the part of a supervisory controller in the Smith cybernetic loop, it may act informationally (and so also conceptually) on the "bio-robot" of the brain-body cybernetic system. Thus, the logical or imaginative, creative process can intervene in the brain-body cybernetic system informationally, conceptually and logically, not by mere mechanical cause-effect chains.

11 --> In other words: Liebnitz's wheels simply grind the one against the other in a causal chain; by themselves, they do not originate their organisation nor do they logically infer consequences of premises, etc.

12 --> Some materialists then suggest that consciousness is an “emergent” property of matter in the brain in action; one dependent on that matter for its existence and behaviour.  But, "emergence" is itself immediately problematic: is "emergence" a euphemism for "Voila: poof!" . . . i.e "magic"?

13 --> Some materialists go further and suggest that mind is more or less a delusion. For instance, Sir Francis Crick is on record, in his 1994 The Astonishing Hypothesis:

. . . that "You", your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behaviour of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules. As Lewis Carroll's Alice might have phrased: "You're nothing but a pack of neurons." This hypothesis is so alien to the ideas of most people today that it can truly be called astonishing.

14 --> Philip Johnson has replied that Sir Francis should have therefore been willing to preface his works thusly: "I, Francis Crick, my opinions and my science, and even the thoughts expressed in this book, consist of nothing more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."  Johnson then acidly commented:  “[[t]he plausibility of materialistic determinism requires that an implicit exception be made for the theorist.” [[Reason in the Balance, 1995.]

15 --> In short, it is at least arguable that self-referential absurdity is the dagger pointing to the heart of evolutionary materialistic models of mind and its origin. An audio clip by William Lane Craig that summarises Plantinga's argument on this in a nutshell, is useful:



. . . This issue can be addressed at a more sophisticated level [[cf. Hasker in The Emergent Self (Cornell University Press, 2001), from p 64 on, e.g. here as well as Reppert here and Plantinga here (briefer) & here (noting updates in the 2011 book, The Nature of Nature)], but without losing its general force, it can also be drawn out a bit in a fairly simple way:
a: Evolutionary materialism argues that the cosmos is the product of chance interactions of matter and energy, within the constraint of the laws of nature; from hydrogen to humans by undirected chance and necessity. 

b: Therefore, all phenomena in the universe, without residue, are determined by the working of purposeless laws of chance and/or mechanical necessity acting on material objects, under the direct or indirect control of happenstance initial circumstances.
(This is physicalism. This view covers both the forms where (a) the mind and the brain are seen as one and the same thing, and those where (b) somehow mind emerges from and/or "supervenes" on brain, perhaps as a result of sophisticated and complex software looping. The key point, though is as already noted: physical causal closure -- the phenomena that play out across time, without residue, are in principle deducible or at least explainable up to various random statistical distributions and/or mechanical laws, from prior physical states. Such physical causal closure, clearly, implicitly discounts or even dismisses the causal effect of concept formation and reasoning then responsibly deciding, in favour of specifically physical interactions in the brain-body control loop; indeed, some mock the idea of -- in their view -- an "obviously" imaginary "ghost" in the meat-machine. [[There is also some evidence from simulation exercises, that accuracy of even sensory perceptions may lose out to utilitarian but inaccurate ones in an evolutionary competition. "It works" does not warrant the inference to "it is true."] )

c: But human thought, clearly a phenomenon in the universe, must now fit into this meat-machine picture.  So, we rapidly arrive at Crick's claim in his  The Astonishing Hypothesis (1994): what we subjectively experience as "thoughts," "reasoning" and "conclusions" can only be understood materialistically as the unintended by-products of the blind natural forces which cause and control the electro-chemical events going on in neural networks in our brains that (as the Smith Model illustrates) serve as cybernetic controllers for our bodies. 

d: These underlying driving forces are viewed as being ultimately physical, but are taken to be partly mediated through a complex pattern of genetic inheritance shaped by forces of selection [["nature"] and psycho-social conditioning [["nurture"], within the framework of human culture [[i.e. socio-cultural conditioning and resulting/associated relativism]. And, remember, the focal issue to such minds -- notice, this is a conceptual analysis made and believed by the materialists! --  is the physical causal chains in a control loop, not the internalised "mouth-noises" that may somehow sit on them and come along for the ride.
(Save, insofar as such "mouth noises" somehow associate with or become embedded as physically instantiated signals or maybe codes in such a loop. [[How signals, languages and codes originate and function in systems in our observation of such origin -- i.e by design --   tends to be pushed to the back-burner and conveniently forgotten. So does the point that a signal or code takes its significance precisely from being an intelligently focused on, observed or chosen and significant alternative from a range of possibilities that then can guide decisive action.])
e: For instance, Marxists commonly derided opponents for their “bourgeois class conditioning” — but what of the effect of their own class origins? Freudians frequently dismissed qualms about their loosening of moral restraints by alluding to the impact of strict potty training on their “up-tight” critics — but doesn’t this cut both ways?  Should we not ask a Behaviourist whether s/he is little more than yet another operantly conditioned rat trapped in the cosmic maze? And -- as we saw above -- would the writings of a Crick be any more than the firing of neurons in networks in his own brain?
f: For further instance,  we may take the favourite whipping-boy of materialists: religion.  Notoriously, they often hold that belief in God is not merely cognitive, conceptual error, but delusion. Borderline lunacy, in short. But, if such a patent "delusion" is so utterly widespread, even among the highly educated, then it "must" -- by the principles of evolution -- somehow be adaptive to survival, whether in nature or in society. And so, this would be a major illustration of the unreliability of our conceptual reasoning ability, on the assumption of evolutionary materialism.
g: Turning the materialist dismissal of theism around, evolutionary materialism itself would be in the same leaky boat. For, the sauce for the goose is notoriously just as good a sauce for the gander, too.
h:  That is, on its own premises [[and following Dawkins in A Devil's Chaplain, 2004, p. 46], the cause of the belief system of evolutionary materialism, "must" also be reducible to forces of blind chance and mechanical necessity that are sufficiently adaptive to spread this "meme" in populations of jumped- up apes from the savannahs of East Africa scrambling for survival in a Malthusian world of struggle for existence.  Reppert brings the underlying point sharply home, in commenting on the "internalised mouth-noise signals riding on the physical cause-effect chain in a cybernetic loop" view:
. . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions. [[Emphases added. Also cf. Reppert's summary of Barefoot's argument here.]
i: The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist (as well as Socialist) J. B. S. Haldane made much the same point in a famous 1932 remark:
"It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [["When I am dead," in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209. (Highlight and emphases added.)]
j: Therefore, though materialists will often try to pointedly ignore or angrily brush aside the issue, we may freely argue: if such evolutionary materialism is true, then (i) our consciousness, (ii) the "thoughts" we have, (iii) the conceptualised beliefs we hold, (iv) the reasonings we attempt based on such and (v) the "conclusions" and "choices" (a.k.a. "decisions") we reach -- without residue -- must be produced and controlled by blind forces of chance happenstance and mechanical necessity that are irrelevant to "mere" ill-defined abstractions such as: purpose or truth, or even logical validity. 
(NB: The conclusions of such "arguments" may still happen to be true, by astonishingly lucky coincidence — but we have no rational grounds for relying on the “reasoning” that has led us to feel that we have “proved” or "warranted" them. It seems that rationality itself has thus been undermined fatally on evolutionary materialistic premises. Including that of Crick et al. Through, self-reference leading to incoherence and utter inability to provide a cogent explanation of our commonplace, first-person experience of reasoning and rational warrant for beliefs, conclusions and chosen paths of action. Reduction to absurdity and explanatory failure in short.) 
k: And, if materialists then object: “But, we can always apply scientific tests, through observation, experiment and measurement,” then we must immediately note that -- as the fate of Newtonian Dynamics between 1880 and 1930 shows -- empirical support is not equivalent to establishing the truth of a scientific theory. For, at any time, one newly discovered countering fact can in principle overturn the hitherto most reliable of theories. (And as well, we must not lose sight of this: in science, one is relying on the legitimacy of the reasoning process to make the case that scientific evidence provides reasonable albeit provisional warrant for one's beliefs etc. Scientific reasoning is not independent of reasoning.)
l: Worse, in the case of origins science theories, we simply were not there to directly observe the facts of the remote past, so origins sciences are even more strongly controlled by assumptions and inferences than are operational scientific theories. So, we contrast the way that direct observations of falling apples and orbiting planets allow us to test our theories of gravity.
m: Moreover, as Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin reminds us all in his infamous January 29, 1997 New York Review of Books article, "Billions and billions of demons," it is now notorious that:
. . . It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel [[materialistic scientists] to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door. [[And if you have been led to imagine that the immediately following words justify the above, kindly cf. the more complete clip and notes here.]
n: Such a priori assumptions of materialism are patently question-begging, mind-closing and fallacious.
o: More important, to demonstrate that empirical tests provide empirical support to the materialists' theories would require the use of the very process of reasoning and inference which they have discredited. 
p: Thus, evolutionary materialism arguably reduces reason itself to the status of illusion.  But, as we have seen: immediately, that must include “Materialism.”  
q: In the end, it is thus quite hard to escape the conclusion that materialism is based on self-defeating, question-begging logic.
r: So, while materialists -- just like the rest of us -- in practice routinely rely on the credibility of reasoning and despite all the confidence they may project, they at best struggle to warrant such a tacitly accepted credibility of mind and of concepts and reasoned out conclusions relative to the core claims of their worldview. (And, sadly: too often, they tend to pointedly ignore or rhetorically brush aside the issue.)
16 --> Notwithstanding such sharp exchanges, through the Derek Smith model we have potentially fruitful frameworks of thought on which we can investigate the nature of mind and its interaction with the body and brain.

Thus, we now consider:

(d) Evolutionary materialism, morality and the is-ought gap

At first, it seems jarring to see morality as an issue in a scientific context.

However, simply observing how we quarrel shows it is an undeniable fact that we find ourselves as morally obligated creatures. For, in our quarrels typically one party tries to find the other in the wrong, and the other as a rule does not dismiss the significance or force of “ought,” but instead tries to either show s/he was right or actually excusable, or else that the other party was “equally” in the wrong.

Now, the only “is-es” permitted in the dominant scientific worldview are matter, energy and forces that put them in motion and combination. So, we are back to Liebnitz's mill-wheels grinding against one another mindlessly and with no basis for “ought.” Thus, there is an apparent explanatory gap between our experience of moral obligation and constraining conscience, and the implications of a materialistic-evolutionary view. 

If you doubt this conclusion, let us hear it from Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson in their 1991 essay, “The Evolution of Ethics”:
The time has come to take seriously the fact [[--> This is a gross error at the outset, as macro-evolution is a theory (an explanation) about the unobserved past of origins and so cannot be a fact on the level of the observed roundness of the earth or the orbiting of planets around the sun etc.] that we humans are modified monkeys, not the favored Creation of a Benevolent God on the Sixth Day . . . We must think again especially about our so-called ‘ethical principles.’ The question is not whether biology—specifically, our evolution—is connected with ethics, but how. As evolutionists, we see that no justification of the traditional kind is possible. Morality, or more strictly our belief in morality, is merely an adaptation put in place to further our reproductive ends. Hence the basis of ethics does not lie in God’s will  … In an important sense, ethics as we understand it is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate. It is without external groundingEthics is illusory inasmuch as it persuades us that it has an objective reference. This is the crux of the biological position. Once it is grasped, everything falls into place.
[[Michael Ruse & E. O. Wilson, “The Evolution of Ethics,” Religion and the Natural Sciences: The Range of Engagement, , ed. J. E. Hutchingson, Orlando, Fl.:Harcourt and Brace, 1991. (NB: Cf. a separate discussion on the grounding of worldviews and ethics here on, which includes a specific discussion of the grounding of ethics and goes on to Biblical theism; having first addressed the roots of the modern evolutionary materialist mindset and its pretensions to the mantle of science. Also cf. here on in the next unit in this course, IOSE, for Plato's warning in The Laws, Bk X, on social consequences of the rise of such a view as the philosophy of the avant garde in a community.]

Nor is this sort of view a particularly new insight. For instance, in his popular science fiction 1897 novel, War of the Worlds, H G Wells opened his narrative with an interesting bit of analysis:
No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water . . . Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us . . . . looking across space with instruments, and intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.

And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.

And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
The last paragraph shows how pervasive the racism of the late C19 was, and points out that indeed, across time and place, men have often slaughtered other men on the flimsiest of excuses. Worse, they often imagined they were serving good -- or even God -- by doing murder.

The utter absurdity of such behaviour was long since aptly brought out by the elder John:
1 Jn 3:7Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as [[God] is righteous . . . .  11This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous . . .  14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
At the same time, in Wells we read a chilling anticipation of the peculiar dynamic of  the century just past. Namely: on the grounds of "science," inferior races or classes were targetted for elimination, in a context where the prevailing worldview -- with "scientific" warrant – is held to be a principal fact of our origins, an is that decisively undercuts the ought of mutual respect grounded in our essential equality as creatures sharing a common, divinely endowed human nature. Here, too, we hear an echo of Nietzsche's nihilism and the superman who by force of will makes up his own “morality.” (When that experiment was tried in Germany, in the 1930's – 40's, the horrific consequences made Wells look like a prophet.) 
 
In short, the is-ought gap by which is does not ground ought, save if “ought” is inherently in the foundational "is" of a worldview, is real. In that context, evolutionary materialist theories of origins plainly embed a serious moral hazard. One that, by its nature, can seemingly only be balanced by abandoning what many view as a fundamental finding of fact of modern science: that we are wholly material creatures in a wholly material world. 

Will Hawthorne draws out some sobering conclusions from that, echoing the concerns on amorality that Plato made in his The Laws, Bk X (as was already mentioned in the Introduction and Summary): 
Assume (per impossibile) that atheistic naturalism [[= evolutionary materialism] is true. Assume, furthermore, that one can't infer an 'ought' from an 'is' [[the 'is' being in this context physicalist: matter-energy, space- time, chance and mechanical forces].  (Richard Dawkins and many other atheists should grant both of these assumptions.)
Given our second assumption, there is no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer an 'ought'. And given our first assumption, there is nothing that exists over and above the natural world; the natural world is all that there is. It follows logically that, for any action you care to pick, there's no description of anything in the natural world from which we can infer that one ought to refrain from performing that action.
Add a further uncontroversial assumption: an action is permissible if and only if it's not the case that one ought to refrain from performing that action . . . [[We see] therefore, for any action you care to pick, it's permissible to perform that action. If you'd like, you can take this as the meat behind the slogan 'if atheism is true, all things are permitted'.
For example if atheism is true, every action Hitler performed was permissible. Many atheists don't like this consequence of their worldview. But they cannot escape it and insist that they are being logical at the same time.
Now, we all know that at least some actions are really not permissible (for example, racist actions). Since the conclusion of the argument denies this, there must be a problem somewhere in the argument. Could the argument be invalid? No. The argument has not violated a single rule of logic and all inferences were made explicit.
Thus we are forced to deny the truth of one of the assumptions we started out with. That means we either deny atheistic naturalism or (the more intuitively appealing) principle that one can't infer 'ought' from [[a material] 'is'. [[Emphases and paragraphing added.]
 Also, we must make a painful footnote on Darwin himself. For, it is indisputable on the facts of Chs 5 - 7 of Descent of Man, that Darwin was indeed one of the first Social Darwinists; e.g. arguing that natural selection explains how Saxons [[= Englishmen] dominate Celts [[= Irish] and Scots. Similarly, in a July 3, 1881 letter to William Graham, he cited how natural selection explained how Europeans beat the Turks “hollow” in previous centuries of struggle. Worst of all, in Ch 6 of Descent, he coolly predicted that by natural selection the more advanced races would wipe out the “inferior” ones such as Negroes and Australians in the centuries to come. (Nor will angry dismissals and distractive retorts or attempts to assert immoral equivalency etc. change such painful facts.)

In our civilisation, some form of theism seems the most likely alternative. So, we must now begin to glimpse the focus of the next section, on origins science in society. For, a common response by evolutionary materialists to the is-ought gap, is to now pose an objection to theistic morality, the Euthyphro dilemma:

In essence: Does God command the good which is separate from himself, or is “good” just the arbitrary whim of God? If the first, God does not ground the good, and if the second, “good” is little more than the arbitrary whim of God.

That is, the point of this dilemma is to try to suggest that theism or the like has no real answer to the is-ought gap either. So in effect, we have to shrug, take moral feelings as a brute given, and try to work out the best compromise we can.

However, the fatal defect of the dilemma argument lies in its pagan roots: the Greek gods in view in Socrates' original argument were not the true root of being; so, they could not ground reality. But the God of theism is the ground of reality, so it is a classic theistic answer that the inherently good Creator of the cosmos made a world that -- in accordance with his unchangeably good character -- not only is replete with reliable, compelling signs pointing to his eternal power and Deity as the root of our being, but also builds in a real, reasonable, intelligible moral principle into that world. That intelligible moral principle is implanted inextricably in our very nature as human beings, so that for instance by our nature as creatures made in God's image with ability to know, reason and choose, we have a known duty of mutual respect.  And, when this inherently good Creator-God and Lord commands us on moral matters, what he says will be decisively shaped by that goodness on the one hand -- commandments are "for our good" -- and will also reflect a responsiveness to human beings who are morally governed creatures, in a relevant situation. (A subtlety in this, is that there will be cases where there is ameliorative regulation of behaviour too deeply rooted in a culture shaped by "the hardness of our hearts" to be pulled up at once without unacceptable harm [cf. here the classic "I hate divorce" case of the Judaeo-Christian tradition], but there will also be provision onwards for reformation of the culture [cf. here for a similar case, on slavery].)

As a result, objective morality is grounded in the roots of our nature and in the moral Creator behind those roots. Richard Hooker, in his Ecclesiastical Polity sums this view up in a key passage cited by Locke in his Second Treatise on Civil Government, Ch 2 Sect. 5, to justify liberty and justice in government:

. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant . . . [[Hooker then continues, citing Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics, Bk 8:] as namely, That because we would take no harm, we must therefore do none; That since we would not be in any thing extremely dealt with, we must ourselves avoid all extremity in our dealings; That from all violence and wrong we are utterly to abstain, with such-like . . . ] [[Eccl. Polity,preface, Bk I, "ch." 8, p.80, cf. here. Emphasis added.]