How Not to Criticise Scientism

Metaphilosophy 51 (4):522-547 (2020)
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This paper argues that the main global critiques of scientism lose their punch because they rely on an uncharitable definition of their target. It focuses on epistemological scientism and divides it into four categories in terms of how strong (science is the only source of knowledge) or weak (science is the best source of knowledge) and how narrow (only natural sciences) or broad (all sciences or at least not only the natural sciences) they are. Two central arguments against scientism, the (false) dilemma and self‐referential incoherence, are analysed. Of the four types of epistemological scientism, three can deal with these counterarguments by utilizing two methodological principles: epistemic evaluability of reliability and epistemic opportunism. One hopes that these considerations will steer the discussion on scientism to more fruitful pastures in the future. For example, there are interesting methodological considerations concerning what evaluability or reliability and epistemic opportunism entail.

Author Profiles

Ilmari Hirvonen
University of Helsinki
Janne Karisto
University of Helsinki


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