Propertarianism


#1

#2

(1) The author’s quibble about the use of “scientific consensus” strikes me as a bit odd. The way I understand the term, the existence of a consensus among experts about a statement, S, serves as at least prima facie evidence that S is true. Now, sure enough, that doesn’t settle anything, and in certain cases, we might even have good reasons to doubt the validity of the consensus as establishing even prima facie evidence (i.e: in highly politicized fields), but to dismiss the concept altogether just doesn’t sound right.

(2) I would have liked to read a more serious defense of rationalism. The author mentions the fact that there can be many conflicting theories that are seemingly corroborated by any number of given observations (infinitely many, I would add), but doesn’t seem to appreciate just how big a hurdle for rationalism that is. Indeed, we are told that we simply need to keep looking for more specific evidence until we hopefully eliminate enough theories and are left with certain theories (perhaps only one), which will enjoy a privileged status in virtue of having survived many falsification attempts. Such an approach would, it is feared, render the scientific enterprise impossible. In practice, scientists do, and must, discriminate between theories on the basis of such considerations as their value or credibility. Another serious objection to rationalism is the claim, advanced by figures such as Polanyi, Kuhn, and Lakatos, that many scientific theories, indeed some of the most celebrated scientific theories, can’t be falsified by observational statements.

I’m not saying that the objections raised by the aforementioned figures are necessarily insurmountable; just that not even mentioning them, even in a mere overview, is strange and ultimately impinges on the quality of the overview.