Global warming scepticism as an instance of Quinian indeterminism
Published 30th September 2009 - 3 comments - 1677 views -
Regardless of our different backgrounds and views, we're going to keep it civil and classy here during the coming weeks, right? To this end, a little philosophy now and again might not go amiss during the heated debates that are bound to take place on this blog. The excellent 3quarksdaily points the way with a prize it put up recently for the best philosophical blog post. The renowned American atheist Daniel Dennett was given the judging job and, after much musing, he gave the "Oscar", as it were, to Tomkow for "Blackburn, Truth and other Hot Topics". In his erudite verdict, Dennett wrote:
"The idea that Global Warming skepticism could be seen as an instance of Quinian indeterminism is provocative, and the case is very deftly constructed, introduced in terms accessible to readers who aren't already steeped in the lore. I'm not persuaded by the argument, but it is the one blog post that I am seriously considering assigning to my students, since it is an excellent introduction to this very important and counterintuitive idea, particularly valuable because it shows that Quine is not talking about an idle or merely philosophical possibility (like grue and bleen, or Twin Earth) but a real world quandary that might have actual examples. Actual examples, I have argued, are apt to be unstable, like a tossed coin landing on its edge instead of falling heads or tails, and I suspect that Global Warming will eventually tumble one way or another, but that doesn't prevent it from being a nicely worrisome phenomenon in the meantime. And Quine's point — that there is no guarantee of a resolution in such cases — is untouched by the likelihood that there will be one, sooner or later."
Will the "nicely worrisome phenomenon" of global warming be perceived as "a real world quandary" by our dear leaders come December in Denmark? And, if it is, which way will it "tumble"?
About the author
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