The investigation of an afterlife and the concept of person

#1
I have seen the criticism that any finding of the investigation of the afterlife (investigation of apparitions, mediumship, etc.) is subjective and incapable of providing an objective demonstration, and therefore suspicious. However, this criticism is not convincing as follows.

Researchers on the afterlife wonder if the person survives biological death and if so, in what manner, so that they are based on the concept of person. But the concept of person is not a scientific concept like the others, is not descriptive but normative concept. According to Stephen Braude on Immortal Remains:

Moreover, our ordinary concept of a person is largely normative (what Locke called a "forensic" concept). When we use the term "person" in ordinary life, we´re not picking out a natural kind -that is, something whose nature scientific inquiry will decide...
http://books.google.es/books?id=_Y5CuRH5u-wC&printsec=frontcover&hl=es#v=onepage&q&f=false

So the investigation of the afterlife remains an epistemology different from the other empirical studies, because it necessarily includes a subjective and normative element. This means that the existence of an afterlife can not objectively proved, but the psychic researchers have been able to conclude the existence of a personal afterlife as inference to the best explanation.
 
#2
I have seen the criticism that any finding of the investigation of the afterlife (investigation of apparitions, mediumship, etc.) is subjective and incapable of providing an objective demonstration, and therefore suspicious. However, this criticism is not convincing as follows.

Researchers on the afterlife wonder if the person survives biological death and if so, in what manner, so that they are based on the concept of person. But the concept of person is not a scientific concept like the others, is not descriptive but normative concept. According to Stephen Braude on Immortal Remains:



http://books.google.es/books?id=_Y5CuRH5u-wC&printsec=frontcover&hl=es#v=onepage&q&f=false

So the investigation of the afterlife remains an epistemology different from the other empirical studies, because it necessarily includes a subjective and normative element. This means that the existence of an afterlife can not objectively proved, but the psychic researchers have been able to conclude the existence of a personal afterlife as inference to the best explanation.
I can understand the subjective element, but a normative one? Care to explain that a bit more in detail? What is meant with that?
 
#3
Just so I understand properly: are you saying that the identification of a person is a subjective matter really and therefore could never be proved objectively? i.e. I can identify my Mother but could never prove beyond all doubt to anyone objectively that she was my mother, they would be dependent on my subjective judgement?

I mean if she is not physically present.
 
#4
I can understand the subjective element, but a normative one? Care to explain that a bit more in detail? What is meant with that?
The concept of person implies that people are beings with certain rights and duties, which is not descriptive but normative or prescriptive.

Just so I understand properly: are you saying that the identification of a person is a subjective matter really and therefore could never be proved objectively? i.e. I can identify my Mother but could never prove beyond all doubt to anyone objectively that she was my mother, they would be dependent on my subjective judgement?

I mean if she is not physically present.
That's, but also applies to if your mother is physically present, because there is always a subjective judgment asserting that what you see is your mother.
 
#5
I have seen the criticism that any finding of the investigation of the afterlife (investigation of apparitions, mediumship, etc.) is subjective and incapable of providing an objective demonstration, and therefore suspicious.
However, the actual reportings of for instance veridical information during an NDE or from mediumistic communication, or of the appearance of an apparition of a person at their time of death far away, are objective not subjective events. The pseudoskeptical materialist tries to worm around this by making the metaphysical assumption (a matter of faith) that any reports that seem to violate supposed consensus reality simply must a priori be false in some way or another, even if the way is not understood. In this view all reported experiences indicative of an afterlife simply could not have happened in real spacetime, so all witness observations of such paranormal events have to be worthless anecdotes regardless of quality. They simply must be misreportings or fraudulent. This metaphysical dogma throws out generally all human experience as an indicator of reality.
 
#6
However, the actual reportings of for instance veridical information during an NDE or from mediumistic communication, or of the appearance of an apparition of a person at their time of death far away, are objective not subjective events. The pseudoskeptical materialist tries to worm around this by making the metaphysical assumption (a matter of faith) that any reports that seem to violate supposed consensus reality simply must a priori be false in some way or another, even if the way is not understood. In this view all reported experiences indicative of an afterlife simply could not have happened in real spacetime, so all witness observations of such paranormal events have to be worthless anecdotes regardless of quality. They simply must be misreportings or fraudulent. This metaphysical dogma throws out generally all human experience as an indicator of reality.
I was discussing issues with a casual athiest the other day. I was willing to give him that perhaps the vast majority of 'paranormal' experiances may have a 'rational' explanation. But given the sheer volume of these experiences it only takes one to shatter an entire prevailing worldview. He assumption is that everyone that has ever had a paranormal experiance ever is either delusional or lying...I just can't accept that.
 
#7
I was discussing issues with a casual athiest the other day. I was willing to give him that perhaps the vast majority of 'paranormal' experiances may have a 'rational' explanation. But given the sheer volume of these experiences it only takes one to shatter an entire prevailing worldview. He assumption is that everyone that has ever had a paranormal experiance ever is either delusional or lying...I just can't accept that.
If that is true than tell him that he is more than welcome to prove that claim. We can all discuss other things while he researches every single claim of paranormal experience ever.

This is a problem with skeptics in general. They try and take one set of facts, Paranormal experience number 1, and argue its false by disputing the facts of paranormal experience number #4367. The reality is you are right, only one of them needs to be right for the statement "there is such things as paranormal experiences" to be true. To argue against is bordering on absurd. Therefore you have to show how it is not theoretically possible to do. Even this is to me a tall task. I just choose to believe that although there are liars out there, there are also true stories out there. You only have to find one that is unexplainable, they have to argue the facts of every paranormal experience ever had.
 
#8
The concept of person implies that people are beings with certain rights and duties, which is not descriptive but normative or prescriptive.



That's, but also applies to if your mother is physically present, because there is always a subjective judgment asserting that what you see is your mother.
I could DNA test her no?
 
#9
However, the actual reportings of for instance veridical information during an NDE or from mediumistic communication, or of the appearance of an apparition of a person at their time of death far away, are objective not subjective events.
But these are phenomena that have not been tested objectively, in the sense that they have not been replicated by independent investigators.
 
#10
I could DNA test her no?
But take a DNA test to your mother only proves that these being has a human with a certain genetic code, which is not the same as saying that these being is your mother. An DNA test involves the concept of human being, but the concept of human being is not the same as the concept of person. It is conceivable that there are persons who are not human beings (some animals, aliens?), human beings who are not persons (comatose?), or a human being which is many persons (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

In other way: empirical science dealing with natural kinds: gold, human, star, etc., are natural kinds because there are objective / descriptive ways to test whether X is a piece of gold, etc. But the concept the person is not a natural kind because there are no purely objective / descriptive way of proving that X is a person because the concept of person includes elements of what should be, not only what it is.
 
#12
But take a DNA test to your mother only proves that these being has a human with a certain genetic code, which is not the same as saying that these being is your mother. An DNA test involves the concept of human being, but the concept of human being is not the same as the concept of person. It is conceivable that there are persons who are not human beings (some animals, aliens?), human beings who are not persons (comatose?), or a human being which is many persons (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

In other way: empirical science dealing with natural kinds: gold, human, star, etc., are natural kinds because there are objective / descriptive ways to test whether X is a piece of gold, etc. But the concept the person is not a natural kind because there are no purely objective / descriptive way of proving that X is a person because the concept of person includes elements of what should be, not only what it is.

This seems to be an exercise in logical positivist thinking which leads nowhere. In philosophy a person is defined as a self-conscious and/or rational being. We certainly cannot absolutely prove scientifically by objective testing that anyone is a person in general or a particular person as opposed to a sophisticated zombie for instance. But regardless of such reasoning I still know for certain that I am myself a conscious being, and I know to a very high degree of certainty that my fellow human beings are particular persons also.

By the same token we know to a high degree of certainty that the concept of something embodying a high degree of complex specified information (CSI) corresponds to the real property that it arose from an intelligent and creative mind. For instance a Boeing 747 or a Shakespeare play. But we can't come up with a scientific definition and quantification of CSI in terms of testable physical parameters. We can't prove scientifically that CSI really exists, but regardless we still know it exists. Persons, and material organizations exhibiting CSI, exist even though there are no "purely objective/descriptive ways" of proving that they exist. Philosophical arguments that claim to deny their existence have some big problems.
 
#13
But take a DNA test to your mother only proves that these being has a human with a certain genetic code, which is not the same as saying that these being is your mother. An DNA test involves the concept of human being, but the concept of human being is not the same as the concept of person. It is conceivable that there are persons who are not human beings (some animals, aliens?), human beings who are not persons (comatose?), or a human being which is many persons (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

In other way: empirical science dealing with natural kinds: gold, human, star, etc., are natural kinds because there are objective / descriptive ways to test whether X is a piece of gold, etc. But the concept the person is not a natural kind because there are no purely objective / descriptive way of proving that X is a person because the concept of person includes elements of what should be, not only what it is.
If that is true what's the point of DNA testing?
 
#15
We certainly cannot absolutely prove scientifically by objective testing that anyone is a person in general or a particular person as opposed to a sophisticated zombie for instance. But regardless of such reasoning I still know for certain that I am myself a conscious being, and I know to a very high degree of certainty that my fellow human beings are particular persons also.
I agree, but keep in mind that the person is not a natural kind helps explain why the survival research is not like the other empirical research.

We can't prove scientifically that CSI really exists, but regardless we still know it exists. Persons, and material organizations exhibiting CSI, exist even though there are no "purely objective/descriptive ways" of proving that they exist. Philosophical arguments that claim to deny their existence have some big problems.
Again I agree. The argument is not "an afterlife can not be objectively tested, therefore, all investigations of survival is suspicious", but "an afterlife can not be objectively tested for such reasons, but this does not prevent an empirical and rational research and draw probabilistic conclusions about the existence and nature of an afterlife".
 
#18
But there is more to DNA testing than that isn't there? It's used to determine identity.Maybe I am missing the point here. Doesn't paternity testing establish parenthood?
Yes, DNA testing is used to determine whether two samples of DNA are so similar enough to establish paternity, but the idea of the person remains.
 
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