Six Signs of Scientism

Logos and Episteme 3 (1):75-95 (2012)
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As the English word “scientism” is currently used, it is a trivial verbal truth that scientism—an inappropriately deferential attitude to science—should be avoided. But it is a substantial question when, and why, deference to the sciences is inappropriate or exaggerated. This paper tries to answer that question by articulating “six signs of scientism”: the honorific use of “science” and its cognates; using scientific trappings purely decoratively; preoccupation with demarcation; preoccupation with “scientific method”; looking to the sciences for answers beyond their scope; denying the legitimacy or worth of non-scientific (e.g., legal or literary) inquiry, or of writing poetry or making art.

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Susan Haack
University of Miami


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