The Synthese Debacle and the Louisiana Legislature

Much has been written about how the editors of the philosophy journal, Synthese, botched the handling of objections which were raised about at least one or two of the articles in the Evolution and Its Rivals special issue (Volume 178, Number 2 / January 2011). The gist of one sort of concern which arose over how the Editors-in-Chief handled the matter can be found here where John Protevi, a professor at Louisiana State University, said:

A real danger with leaving the disclaimer as it is, or at least not mitigating Beckwith’s use of it, is the extremely high probability that the next time Professor Forrest [a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University] testifies to the LA state legislature (as she often does in these matters, and no doubt will soon in the debate on SB 70, which would repeal the stealth creationist Lousiana Science Education Act or LSEA), some ID partisan will claim she has been “refuted” in the pages of a prestigious philosophy journal and that therefore her testimony should be discounted if not ignored.

This past Thursday, the Louisiana Senate Education Committee rejected Senate Bill 70 (SB 70) which would have repealed this law. This news report about the Senate committee action does not indicate whether Professor Forrest testified (I have emailed the committee in an attempt to get more information about whatever testimony was presented and by whom), nor does the article indicate that the feared refutation charge surfaced. In fact, the article makes it seem as if the committee hearing had next to no contentiousness.

If that was the case, then this may well be because Professor Forrest did not testify (assuming she did not), and, if she did not testify, this might have been either because of a schedule conflict, or it may have been because it was clear ahead of the hearing that the proposed legislation would not be approved by the committee. Maybe the fireworks over her having been “refuted” will have to wait until some local government inserts creationism/ID into the curriculum so that there can then be a lawsuit at which Professor Forrest will testify.

Of course, by the time such a court case comes about, Dr. Forrest could well produce a better argument than she put forth1, 2, 3, 4 in her paper, The non-epistemology of intelligent design: its implication for public policy, and that argument could and should make any reference to her previously having been “refuted” a wholly irrelevant matter.
1 Some criticism of the Forrest paper is to be found here: “Since the matter of SB70 is more a matter of politics than science, it would behoove those in favor of the repeal to avoid such shallow depictions of faith and religion and their relation to epistemology as that provided by Forrest …”

2 More brief criticism of Forrest is here.

3 Here is still some more criticism: “It is perfectly possible to address the epistemology of Johnson, Dembski, and Beckwith without making the overly broad and easily contradicted assertions made by Forrest about the nature of faith and alleged ‘epistemological problems generated by supernatural theism’ … It might be acceptable or honorable as a political tactic to bother with discussion of Beckwith’s Master of Juridical Studies, but that discussion is philosophically unnecessary.”

4 Here is some criticism of the Forrest paper by Darrell Rowbottom.

This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Evolution, History and Philosophy of Science, Philosophy, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Politics, Religion, Science. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Synthese Debacle and the Louisiana Legislature

  1. Pingback: Boycott of Synthese News | Evolving Thoughts

  2. The Louisiana Senate Education Committee has confirmed that Professor Forrest did not testify at the hearing for SB 70.

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