Regards a diary on the rec list that suggests that the BP spill is the reult of man's over-reaching and a misplaced faith in technolgy: oh, bullshit.
Survivors of the accident say that BP employees browbeat the Transocean crew and ordered them to violate normal procedures, apparently nearly coming to blows with the crew of the oil rig.
And that is the fault of human nature, not technology. People have been dying in similar scenarios since the Stone Age, when man developed the ability to articulate really stupid ideas. The big guy in the tribe said "Hey we are going to march into this desert, and on the third day we will find water, or the gods will make it rain pomegranate juice. If you don't go, this will show up on your annual review." And everyone died.
But bad planning, patently dumb ideas, and browbeating the people who know better are hardly the byproduct of reductionism or the scientific method. Indeed, fiascoes like Mao's attempts to reform agriculture, which killed millions, could only happen by ignoring scientists.
I do not expect to change anyone's mind. In fact philosophers have been kicking this can down the road for well over 2000 years, and it was Aristotle's rejection of a large body of empirical scientific data that kept western civilization (Aristotle's fan club) stuck in the Dark Ages for nearly a thousand years.
I could have ignored the whole issue except for a reference to "ontological reality." Slowly I turn.....
I don't expect to change anyone's mind - there are plenty of fans of ontologies, and for them, the concept is as stark and bold as bolt of lightning in a night sky. The lack of tangible results from these theories or tens of millions of dollars spent on these theories does not deter each new generation of acolytes. Ironically, "ontologies" are still with us because their supporters have decided to drop their definition of "ontologies," which violates all their principles.
Karl Popper pointed out the virtue of reductionist science - where it leads to a dead end, the weaknesses are clearly defined and the standard for a solution is also known.
(Reductionism) progresses by bold ideas, by the advancement of new and very strange theories...and by the overthrow of the old ones.
While reductionsism has its shortcomings, the alternatives have brought centuries of stagnation, without any promise of peace or prosperity.
The Aristotlean method...has remained arrested in a state of empty verbiage and barren scholasticism, and that the degree to which the various sciences have been able to make any progress depended on the degree to which they have been able to get rid of this essentialist method......It is characteristic of the views of this school that they do not lead to any chain of argument that could be rationally criticized; the school therefore addresses its subtle analyses exclusively to the small esoteric circle of the initiated.