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Demarcation revisited in Synthese

Further to previous posts on the Synthese special issue, this blog considers another case of bully-boy behaviour masquerading as scholarship – the paper on demarcation by Robert T. Pennock. Those most opposed to intelligent design (ID) and creationism have typically maintained that a clear line can be drawn between science and non-science, and ID and creationism are declared to be outside the boundary of science. In this essay, Pennock choses to talk down to one of his peers in the world of philosophy. An example is as follows:

“When we look empirically at what scientists and science educators themselves say science is, then we see immediately that they all ignore Laudan and clearly operate on the idea that there is a real distinction between science and non-science. Indeed, the evidence for this view is so pervasive that it is hard to see how one can take Laudan’s incredible pronouncements as anything but indicating a cavilier [sic] disregard for the balance of evidence and a foolhardy disengagement from what should be the subject matter of philosophy of science. I can here only give an outline of some of some of what Laudan had to ignore in his anti-demarcationist screed.”

For more, go here.

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4 Responses to Demarcation revisited in Synthese

  1. I thought the criticism of Laudan was unfair, and I posted on that back in December.
    Demarcation; defending Larry Laudan

    Personally, I think it is usually easy to distinguish between science and pseudo-science. But Popper’s falsificationism does not work for making that distinction.

  2. Neil Rickert: “I thought the criticism of Laudan was unfair, and I posted on that back in December.” Demarcation; defending Larry Laudan.

    Thanks for the link.
    I see you have also an interesting take on the Synthese controversy, and yes, philosophy owes a lot to ID (but that’s another debate!).
    http://nwrickert.wordpress.com.....-big-deal/

    “Personally, I think it is usually easy to distinguish between science and pseudo-science. But Popper’s falsificationism does not work for making that distinction.”

    I think it is usually easy to distinguish when considering empirical science, but the situation gets more complex when we address issues raised by the historical sciences. Also, there are problems with some cosmological theories – are they science or excursions into virtual reality?

  3. Also, there are problems with some cosmological theories – are they science or excursions into virtual reality?

    I sometimes wonder that, myself. However, I tend to think of those “theories” as speculative hypotheses rather than as theories.

  4. Science is just our search for the truth, i.e. the reality, to our existence/ the existence behind what we are investigating, via our never-ending quest for knowledge.

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