Philosophical sausages

By Ken Perrott 03/06/2011

Any scientist who has experienced the frustration of debating the theologically inclined, or the philosophically inclined who have a theological bent, will appreciate this. I certainly do.

It’s from Answers in Genes: Show me the Sausages! (and thanks to Pharyngula for the link I think this is another version of The Courtier’s Reply)

Show me the Sausages!

A philosopher designs a marvellous sausage machine. A scientist comes
to marvel at this wonderful creation, and raises an eyebrow.
The philosopher says, “Ah, behold the wonderful cogs and sprockets and
temperature-controlled mixing chambers in my wonderful machine –
surely you can see how it must produce the most fantastic sausages!”
The scientist says “Yes, that is all very interesting. Show me the sausages.”
The philosopher says “How dare you, a mere scientist, question my
wonderful philosophical reasoning?”
Scientist: “I’m not questioning your reasoning – I want to know if
your machine really produces sausages.”
Philosopher: “Can you point to any flaw in my argument that it
produces sausages?”
Sci: “I don’t know – I just want to know if it produces sausages. Here
is some meat. Why don’t you feed it through and see if you get any
Phil: “And sully my wonderful machine with mere offal?”
Sci: “You said it was a sausage machine. I want to see the sausages.”
Phil: “Are you questioning my ingredients?”
Sci: “I’m just questioning whether it produces sausages or not. Show
me the sausages.”
Phil: “Ah, so you cannot attack my premises and you cannot attack my
argument. Therefore I’m right and you lose.”
Sci: “Don’t be such a melodramatic prancing arse. Show me the sausages.”
Phil: “The sausages inevitably flow from the argument. You see my fine
machine. You can even inspect the meat & onions. The sausages
necessarily flow.”
Sci: “Show me the sausages or I’m off to Tesco.”
Phil: “You are a mere scientist with no understanding of philosophical matters.”
Sci: “Bye.”

Love that “Don’t be such a melodramatic prancing arse.” Reminds me of a few people!

I have often thought that “The proof of the pudding is in the eating” is an important philosophical principle. Unfortunately one that some people never learn.

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0 Responses to “Philosophical sausages”

  • This seems to be a philosophical blog. It seems to be saying that since philosophical debates are based on ideas then physical proof i.e the sausgaes makes the argument conclusive for the scientist. But I would think that it is based on the current metaphical world view, where you can only believe thing seen, heard, or feel.
    This is the notion of scientism. Scientism, particularly its strong form, is a worldview or philosophy of life that affirms 1. the material world is all that there is, and science is the (only) means of verifying truth claims. 2. any claims of knowledge have to be scientifically verifiable; otherwise, they lack meaning.
    We encounter scientism in of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who. The kangaroo opposing Horton insists that life cannot exist on a tiny speck of dust. The reason he gives turns out to be the mantra of strong scientism: “If you cannot see, hear, or feel something, it does not exist!”
    One point about this type of reasoning would be if we use this formula. First, current modern worldview or (philosophy of life), fails the test because its ultimate belief is self-contradictory. We need to remember that modernity’s ultimate belief is that we should only hold beliefs that are self-evident, incorrigible, or evident to the senses, or are at least logically deducible from beliefs that are. However, this concise statement of this worldview where it’s ultimate beliefs fail to meet its own criteria, for the statement itself is neither self-evident, incorrigible, evident to the senses, nor deducible from beliefs that are.

    In other words, the statement itself is not obviously true. It is not something that can be touched or seen, and there is no way to argue to it from prior beliefs that are (touched or seen). Like any other ultimate belief, we must simply assume that it is true without proof. However, it seems inconsistent that a worldview that demands proof every inch of the way should itself rest on a foundation that cannot be proved.

    Thus modernity harbours perhaps a contradiction at the center of its worldview. Why should anyone believe a worldview whose ultimate belief, or systems of thought contradict itself.