Should We Accept Scientism? The Argument from Self-Referential Incoherence

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An influential idea in science, philosophy, and popular science writing these days is that science and the natural sciences in particular always reliably lead to rational belief and knowledge, whereas non-scientific sources of belief never do. This chapter discusses a specific argument against scientism. It focuses on scientism as an epistemological rather than an ontological claim that as a claim to the effect that only science delivers rational belief or knowledge rather than as the claim that what exists is only what science tells exists or only that which can in principle be investigated by science. A first response to the argument from self-referential incoherence is that we do or at least can have scientific evidence for scientism. It is undeniable that science has an impressive track record. A second line of response is that we can rationally believe some proposition p only if p is the result of science or if p is the thesis of scientism itself.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhat is Scientific Knowledge?
Subtitle of host publicationAn Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology of Science
EditorsKevin Ray McCain, Kostas Kampourakis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780203703809
ISBN (Print)9781138570160, 9781138570153
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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