David Velleman, a well-known philosophy professor at NYU, has an interesting blog post about intelligent design. Velleman is not at all an ID proponent, but his post takes an interestingly nuanced view.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the short post, but I want to focus on this part:
The theory of evolution is, not a complete explanation, but what philosophers of science call an explanation-schema — a general template for developing explanations of many different phenomena.
Given a successful explanation schema, the scientific approach (I won’t call it a “method”) is to continue applying it to new cases, adjusting it as the need arises. Those who have devoted their lives to such an enterprise tend to be optimistic that it will ultimately yield explanations for all of the phenomena. Their optimism about the enterprise is encouraged by its successes to date; and in any case, pessimists would probably look for a different line of work. But optimism about the ultimate reach of science is not itself a scientific thesis. Whether science carried to its ideal limit would leave a remainder of unexplained phenomena is a question that science does not attempt to answer. It’s a question for metaphysicians and epistemologists.
Some poeple completely reject any God-of-the-gaps argument — they hold that science will fill in any gap in our understanding. But I think Velleman is making a good point here, when he says that “optimism about the ultimate reach of science is not itself a scientific thesis”. It’s fine to be optimistic, but it’s not fine to pretend that those who aren’t optimistic are ipso facto violating the canons of scientific methodology.
Velleman also says that ID should be discussed in school, but
Unfortunately, the curriculum in which ID belongs doesn’t exist in high schools.
Velleman holds that ID belongs not in the science classroom, but in the philosophy classroom.