Apologies for my late arrival: I've been debating whether to join for awhile now.
And one of the things that we know about zebras is that they travel in herds, so it's perfectly valid to conclude that several zebras is more likely than one.
I dispute this whole line of argumentation.
In contrast to zebras and unicorns, a solitary designer can belong to a population and still be a solitary designer.
So, population size need not be a consideration for designers at all.
All that need be considered is the number of designers requisite to explain the evidence of design.
Without the consideration of population sizes, to the best of my ability, here are the types of evidence that are required to support the hypotheses of different numbers of designers:
For "at least 1 designer": evidence of design
For "at least 2 designers": (i) evidence of design, plus (ii) evidence distinguishing the work of Designer A from the work of Designer B
For "at least 3 designers": (i) evidence of design, (ii) evidence distinguishing the work of Designer A form the work of Designer B; plus (iii) evidence distinguishing the work of Designer B from the work of Designer C; plus (iv) evidence distinguishing the work of Designer A from the work of Designer C
(This is, of course, ruling out the possibility of directly observing the designers at work.)
Without considering the actual evidence yet, I would conclude that, in principle, one designer is more parsimonious than two designers.
It really has nothing to do with 'populations', though. Everything we know of comes in plurals; the only things that do not come in plurals are those things that cannot be plural by definition (the center of a particular circle, for example).
Design is a historical act, not a characteristic that defines a group of entities.
For example, insisting that things come in plurals would have us believing that there is more than one writer of Moby-Dick, more than one painter of Mona Lisa, more than one actor portraying Jack Sparrow, and a committee of people posting under each EvC user name.
It's nonsense. Some acts are legitimately attributable to singular sources. Thus, you can't argue that "designers" are things that must come in plurals: especially if you're talking about the designer(s) of a specific design project.
But I'm arguing against the assumption that only one member of that population is a designer, which is not parsimonious.
Okay, so the point of my post obviously isn't getting through.
The basic point is that you're simply wrong: parsimony actually does also apply to the number of entities proposed, and not just to categories of entities.
What you started with in this discussion was the thing designed (i.e. the universe), and the question that needs to be answered is, "How many entities are required to explain the design?"
The absolute minimum number of designers is one (assuming that zero is off the table, of course), so we first ask the question of whether or not one designer is capable of designing the universe independently.
Without making any assumptions about the designer (e.g. lifespan or creative capacity), is there any reason to think that a single designer could not have written every book in the library?
If not, then you have your answer: one designer could, in principle, have created the universe alone.
It's only when you begin adding assumptions about constraints that the designer might be under (e.g. timeframe, economics, etc.) that you begin to suggest that a single designer could not have done it. But, until these constraints are considered, there's really no need for more than one designer, is there?
This should be enough to establish, at least in principle, that one designer is more parsimonious than two.
Assuming one designer rather than an unknown number is an additional assumption.
Yes, I overlooked this step in my posts. Thanks for the correction.
But, parsimony is only useful for comparing hypotheses with equal explanatory power. Since "an unspecified number of designers" doesn't actually answer the question under discussion---i.e., "How many designers designed the universe?"---it is completely devoid of explanatory power, and an additional assumption is necessary to provide that explanatory power.
Thus, we are justified in assuming one designer, but not in assuming another designer on top of the first one.
The argument, as I have explained before and as PaulK has explained and as I think even Straggler understands now, is that putting any number on it is an unparsimonious assumption.
Parsimony is supposed to be used to provide a temporary answer where the evidence doesn't give you one; but, the way you use it, it will always fall in favor of non-answers, because you view a non-answer with zero assumptions as preferable to a useful answer with one assumption.
This is a misapplication of parsimony, and, in fact, renders it entirely useless: what, exactly, does this version of parsimony do other than forbid induction?
In this case, you can't answer the question---"How many designers designed the universe?"---unless you incorporate an additional assumption. So, parsimony does not forbid us from incorporating this assumption. It does, however, forbid us from incorporating further assumptions beyond that without additional justification.
So, "one designer" is more parsimonious than "two designers" or "many designers."
Edited by Bluejay, : switched "inferences" out for "induction"
Where's the need for an answer that would justify that assumption?
Arguably, there is no immediate need for it beyond completing the objective of this thread. More long-term reasons would be to clarify the proper usage of parsimony and to prevent evolutionists from wasting time on invalid criticisms of ID.
(Personally, I would argue that none would be a more parsimonious answer, since the existence of a designer would raise much the same questions as the claimed evidence of design in the universe, questions that seem to be only answered by more assumptions.)
I think I agree. But, just to clarify, are you suggesting that, even if we have already assumed design, "no designers" is the most parsimonious answer as to the number of designers?
If so, I would appreciate a more in-depth explanation. If not, then, yes, I agree.
The point of this thread is why IDists insist on a single Designer - and we must remember that they use this Designer to account for both the Universe and earthly life. Clearly parsimony does not support that...
I think I've done a good job of showing that parsimony does, in fact, support this. I would like you to explain where my argument is wrong.
...the most that you have claimed is a weak preference for a single designer of our universe, not a refusal to even seriously consider alternatives.
I'm not clear on what you mean here. Can an argument that appeals to parsimony ever conclude anything more than "a weak preference"? I wouldn't think so.
No, although it seems to me that often special pleading is used to avoid the implication of an infinite regress of designers. Which is hardly parsimonious.
In this case, you can't answer the question---"How many designers designed the universe?"---unless you incorporate an additional assumption.
Sure we can.
Given the premise that the IDists themselves use to infer design - i.e. known examples of design - we already have an implied number of more than one designer...
... No additional assumptions are required to stop there.
But, the premise that IDists use to infer design is an additional assumption. In fact, I would argue that it's at least two additional assumptions:
Human-designed things are conceptually similar to Designer-designed things.
The similarity is due to homology in the design process (including whether they work singly or in groups).
Also, I was under the impression that you and Straggler had agreed that design was being assumed. But, if you've already assumed design, it doesn't seem right to me to also incorporate an assumption based on how design is inferred.