What does it take to falsify materialism?

#1
With the current climate around the skeptiko forums really heating up at the moment, I thought it would be interesting to ask how it is that those who feel materialism adequately explains all phenomena, have come to that conclusion.
In light of the topics raised on skeptiko, and the very sound research presented, surely we all must admit (some of us gladly, some unhappily), that materialism is started to sprout leaks. It is a sinking ship. In most areas of research, often scathingly reffered to as 'fringe' science, but one could also refer to them as 'frontier' science, or 'cutting edge' science, materialism is beggining to show itself for the failed proposition that I at least think it is.

In fact, quantum science has seriously alluded to this for almost a century, but for some reason, we have been able to sweep this dirty little secret under the carpet for too long.

I am left wondering how those who hold that materialism is an absolutely confirmed and unassailable position, can hold this opinion in light of the startling discoveries being made all the time. What would it take to falsify the materialist paradigm? And hasn't what it would take, already been found?
 
#3
I've often thought that materialists require some form of material proof that materialism is false.
Hahaha, I never thought of that, hahaha. Hilarious. :D
However, seriously I think there may be alot of truth in that, and I think such proof exists.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#7
Materialism doesn't adequately explain what we see, which is why the term died long ago. Now we use physicalism or naturalism.

What would kill physicalism for me is the discovery of something that simply cannot be called physical. It would have to defy logic, or require a completely new set of natural laws that only barely overlap with the physical laws. When I say "completely new," I mean laws way more bizarre than those of quantum mechanics, which is still physical. Even if we discover that some fundamental form of consciousness exists, I'd see no reason to call that nonphysical just on principle.

I'm not sure there is much value to tagging parts of reality with metaphysical tags.

~~ Paul
 
#9
Materialism doesn't adequately explain what we see, which is why the term died long ago. Now we use physicalism or naturalism.

What would kill physicalism for me is the discovery of something that simply cannot be called physical. It would have to defy logic, or require a completely new set of natural laws that only barely overlap with the physical laws. When I say "completely new," I mean laws way more bizarre than those of quantum mechanics, which is still physical. Even if we discover that some fundamental form of consciousness exists, I'd see no reason to call that nonphysical just on principle.

I'm not sure there is much value to tagging parts of reality with metaphysical tags.

~~ Paul
Doesn't this become tricky? Can't I simply say this is a matter of belief/interpretation and that we've already "discovered" that thing that "simply cannot be called physical" and that that thing is what we call consciousness?

I realize you kinda speak to this a couple sentences down in your statement, but I don't see how it's any stranger to assume consciousness is immaterial rather than material
 
#11
Materialism doesn't adequately explain what we see, which is why the term died long ago. Now we use physicalism or naturalism.
What would kill physicalism for me is the discovery of something that simply cannot be called physical. It would have to defy logic, or require a completely new set of natural laws that only barely overlap with the physical laws. When I say "completely new," I mean laws way more bizarre than those of quantum mechanics, which is still physical. Even if we discover that some fundamental form of consciousness exists, I'd see no reason to call that nonphysical just on principle.
So, would telepathy fit the bill? Precognition? The Near Death Experience and all it entails? I would say these would require a completely new set of physical laws.
Also, in relation to quantum mechanics, in what way does particles appearing in two places at once, popping in and out of existence, switching from wave form to particle form depending on whether they are being observed or not, non local faster than light instantaneous communication between connected polarised particles, conform to a materialist explanation? (or physicalist or naturalist if you prefer)
It doesn't.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#13
Doesn't this become tricky? Can't I simply say this is a matter of belief/interpretation and that we've already "discovered" that thing that "simply cannot be called physical" and that that thing is what we call consciousness?
You could say that, yes. But I don't see what basis you have to declare it nonphysical. Do you know some laws that describe consciousness that just cannot possibly be considered physical?

I realize you kinda speak to this a couple sentences down in your statement, but I don't see how it's any stranger to assume consciousness is immaterial rather than material
This points to the problem with labeling real things with metaphysical labels. Real things are just what they are, and they don't care about labels.

~~ Paul
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#14
So, would telepathy fit the bill? Precognition? The Near Death Experience and all it entails? I would say these would require a completely new set of physical laws.
I'll be the judge of that, when you finally manage to come up with the laws. :D

Also, in relation to quantum mechanics, in what way does particles appearing in two places at once, popping in and out of existence, switching from wave form to particle form depending on whether they are being observed or not, non local faster than light instantaneous communication between connected polarised particles, conform to a materialist explanation? (or physicalist or naturalist if you prefer)
It doesn't.
I guess you'll have to specify what you mean by material/physical/natural in order for me to answer this question. Again, it's just a label and the behavior of natural things has no obligation to conform.

Surely the debate between "materialists" and "immaterialists" can't be as shallow as a debate over terminological boundaries. Or can it?

~~ Paul
 
#15
For me you only need indications of inter-connectivity between persons outside of the known senses (at a distance etc.), which affect their perception of the world. Just the mere possibility would threaten the idea of the of the independent objective observer.

I think we already have pretty strong evidence that such inter-connectivity exists, and can affect our perception.
 
#16
I'll be the judge of that, when you finally manage to come up with the laws. :D
I guess you'll have to specify what you mean by material/physical/natural in order for me to answer this question. Again, it's just a label and the behavior of natural things has no obligation to conform.
Surely the debate between "materialists" and "immaterialists" can't be as shallow as a debate over terminological boundaries. Or can it?
No it can't, and the fact that you are asking me this question shows either you are deliberately not getting the meaning of what I say, or perhaps worse, non-deliberately.
When you say 'the behaviour of natural things has not obligation to conform', are you somehow making a weak appeal to naturalism? Correct me if I am wrong, but naturalism is the position that all existent things and phenomena come about through 'natural' causes, and that there can be no super or para natural explanation for these things? I agree. However, one must first realise that things are only thought of as 'super' natural in relation to the paradigm they clash with, in this case, materialism (or physicalism if you prefer).

It is quite straightforward what I am saying. If an object were to disappear here and rematerialize ten miles away, this would be considered para normal or super natural, because of the prevailing materialist paradigm - even though this is what happens as a matter of course with quantum objects. The same goes for faster than light communication (non local), akin to telepathy. As I said, these phenomena, if they could be found in the 'natural' world, would need a completely new paradigm to accommodate them, as materialism doesn't. They have been found, clearly at the quantum level, and arguably at the macro human level.

So no, it is not a debate over terminologies. It is a question of dealing with the facts, and reassessing our position.
 
#20
I'll be the judge of that, when you finally manage to come up with the laws. :D
Why are you ignoring the issue?

The issue isn't for the skeptic - the nonmaterialist in this case - to come up with an explanation or law. What's so hard to get here?

What's happened, in the largest sense possible, is that the materialist view has been punctured. Period. The whys and wherefores and law(s) can come later. Who the hell knows how telepathy works? I don't so much care, to be honest . . . It does.
 
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