Discourse for Key Topic 2 (KT2): some Philosophical Problems of Astrology

Author: Dean, Dr. Geoffrey and Loptson, Peter
Abstract: Modern philosophers generally accept astrology as a source of sympathy and support, but they reject it as a source of knowledge. This matches the idea, introduced in KT1, that astrology can be viewed in two ways, one in terms of the purely subjective satisfaction enjoyed by users, and the other in terms of its objective accuracy. The discourse looks at some philosophical (I.e., conceptual) problems revealed by each viewpoint. Astrology from the satisfaction viewpoint is generally unproblematic: (1) Satisfaction typically rests on value judgments and subjective feelings, both of which can legitimately differ. So arguments about the extent and type of satisfaction provided by astrology may be pointless. (2) The astrology so viewed need not be true and is therefore uncontroversial. (3) Nevertheless problems can arise if astrologers needlessly embrace assailable arguments. Why undermine uncontroversial claims with assailable arguments? (4) Problems can also arise if satisfaction depends on perceptions that are in fact false. Action based on false perceptions could be harmful. Astrology from the accuracy viewpoint faces numerous problems: (1) Astrology is defined as precisely not the result of any means we know of. (2) Astrological effects are essentially statistical, are non-identifiable except after the event, and therefore cannot be an independent source of knowledge. (3) Astrologers have been reluctant to describe what their model predicts, the criteria by which it could be tested, and the evidence they would accept as showing it had failed. (4) No claims to accuracy can be justified unless astrologers make proper experiments and distinguish between alternative explanations and have independent reasons for thinking that astrological effects exist.
Keywords: KT1, philosophy, value judgments, definitions of astrology
Notes:Key topics focus on crucial issues in astrological research. KT1(Vol.13(1)) covers the scientific approach andits relevance to astrology: KT2 (Vol.14(2)) covers some philosophical problems of astrology: KT3 (Vol 15(1)) coveries theories of astrology.
Publication: Correlation: Astrological Association Journal of Research Into Astrology
Issue: Volume 14 Issue 2
Dated: 1995/1996
Pages: Pages 32 – 44

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