David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal of Applied Philosophy 21 (1):89-108 (2007)
The teaching of evolutionary theory in U.S. public school science classes has been called into question via numerous school board mandated “evolution is a theory, not a fact” disclaimers that have appeared on science textbooks in recent years and which have been the subject of recent court cases. I evaluate the scientific reasonability of such disclaimers by engaging in conceptual analysis on the crucial terms in the key claim: “evolution is a theory, not a fact.” Assessing various interpretations of the key claim, I argue that, for any interpretation, it is either clearly false, or trivially true, or not even marginally reasonable as a rationale, of the sort pertaining to science, that justifies the use of the disclaimer or the advice it recommends to students. I conclude that such disclaimers haveno scientific merit. Finally, I offer brief remarks about what we may learn from the use of the disclaimers, as well as a word about the relevance of methodological naturalism to current disputes, and likely ones in the near future, over evolution
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