Come, come- I did make a distinction by referring to the tooth fairy. I specifically remember doing so!
I admit, it was a bit unfair, but just to drive the point home :P My point being, we don't have any good reason to assume that ghosts aren't any more or any less “constructs” than fictional characters:
Of course I don't mean about human CONSTRUCTS that are definitely part of human production, invention and general output. I am talking about what we can conceive of the cosmos. That of course needs clarification and discussion but definitely the point is that while it's certainly naive to expect shackle-juggling ghosts, it's equally naive to think that the CONCEPT of a ghost (non-material conscious existence) is impossible to exist.
Well, first off, the CONCEPT does exist - in our minds and social practice. But the ENTITY which the concept refers to doesn't. I see two problems here: First, the concept of something which exists but is “non-material” seems contradictory to me, so throwing the predicate “conscious” into the mix doesn't make it any better. Second, I think you're suggesting a very weak argument for the existence of imagined entities.:
Of course one should wait for tangible proof or at least good enough indication of it (lion tracks instead of a lion) before going on to acknowledge as much. But while waiting for something like that, I find humans are too small to be able to rule on what exists and doesn't in the cosmos, when they can't make heads or tails of a bumblebee flight before studying it for several years.
Sure, I don't claim to know
that ghosts don't exist. What I reject is an argument like the following:
1) Some people think they can perceive ghosts.
2) We cannot rule out that ghosts exist.
C) Thus, let's not argue with people who claim that ghosts exist.
(This, of course, is very similar to some theistic positions, which probably makes the repeated use of this argument much more frustrating for anyone who doesn't like to invite strange mystical entities into his personal ontology, in the same way they would invite chairs, books, and other people into it.)
I think that (1) is equal to stating that some people have “ghost experiences”. These are psychological, subjective states. So (2) doesn't even come into play - it doesn't matter that we can't rule out that ghosts exist, since (1) doesn't even suggest that ghosts exist
. It suggests that people have “ghost experiences”. Nothing more, nothing less. Some people think Elvis is alive. Can we rule it out? No. But we have no better reason to assume that Elvis is alive than anyone else we'd believe to be dead. It makes no sense to single out Elvis as the one who is still alive among all those who would normally be believed dead. Same thing with ghosts - we can't rule out that they exist, but we have no better reason to believe that they exist than anything else we believe not
to exist. Like Optimus Prime or the tooth fairy. Ontology has to be restriced by common sense, to things and people we can see, touch and share objective information about. Because there is no non-pragmatic proof of non-existence.
Science is science ONLY when it keeps in mind it may not have the MEANS to get the tangible experience/proof it requires instead of its representatives acting like they don't need it.
Same thing. Not having the means to disprove an entity's existence doesn't mean anything. On the other hand, not having any good reasons to accept its existence does mean a lot.
Maybe it helps to explicitly state that science does not prove or disprove the existence of entities by itself. It proves or disproves theories postulating the entities in question (at least, in an idealized scientific discourse). Entities are postulated according to considerations of theoretical practicability (or even “just” aesthetic criteria like symmetry). This is very different from postulating the existence of a chair or of another person. I'd just like to undermine the confidence that we should leave it to science to sort out what exists and what doesn't.
The underlying picture here is that we take ALL of the available experience and treat it as evidence, and then look for the theory which is best supported by it AND which best satisfies criteria of simplicity (like postulating a relatively small number of entities).
So, if something counts as experience, then science already
has, as you called it, “the MEANS to get the tangible experience/proof it requires”. That is why claiming that there are entities which systematically evade science is self-contradictory.
May I ask you a personal question? Would you be disappointed or frightened if you became witness to one such entity, supposing it existed? (like a ghost or an angel)
Supposing it existed? Given everything that's been said before, I'm not sure I completely understand that conjecture. You mean, all other things being equal? Then I'd probably be frightened, but not because I'd believe what I'm seeing to be a ghost or an angel, but because I'd probably be afraid I was going mad.
Also, I don't worry about asking personal questions :P
Even if there exist, these entities are beyond the human senses' limits and thus we aren't required to know/interact/occupy ourselves with them.
Again, pretty much self-contradictory, if you mean they are systematically (and not just pragmatically) beyond the reach of science. So, in order to make sense of “ghosts”, some theories do postulate some sort of interaction. Like some of the theories about a special form of matter (which is only “semi-interactive”…?) (see Dave7's post above yours). It would still seem like a gigantic coincidence if ghosts had anything to do with some special particles. Because then, all the predicates we usually associate with ghosts (consciousness, souls, the after-life etc.), wouldn't make much sense anymore.
Still, I have found that God only reveals Himself to those who try to solve the problems at hand rather than His theoretic nature, existence, etc, and whatnot.
Again, to me that makes sense as a metaphor