An epistemological critique of scientism

René van Woudenberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This chapter examines two recent views that have self-consciously been labeled by their authors as “scientism.” Alexander Rosenberg’s scientism is the view that the methods of science are the only reliable ways to secure knowledge of anything. This view faces many counterexamples, Rosenberg’s arguments in its favor are weak, and the view is self-referentially incoherent. Don Ross, James Ladyman, and David Spurrett’s scientism as propounded in Every Thing Must Go is the view that science is our only guide to the objective features of the world. It includes an institutional criterion that demarcates bona fide science from non-science, a non-positivist form of verificationism, and the notion that scientism is not a thesis but a stance. The chapter argues that this view, too, faces counterexamples. It also points to problems with the institutional demarcation criterion, the proposed verificationism, as well as the notion that scientism is a stance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScientism
Subtitle of host publicationProspects and Problems
EditorsJeroen de Ridder, Rik Peels, Rene van Woudenberg
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9780190462772 , 9780190462765
ISBN (Print)9780190462758
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


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