Where science ends and scientism begins
‘Scientism’ is difficult to define. Coined in the mid-nineteenth century, its primary and original meaning is neutral: ‘thought or expression characteristic of scientists’ (the New Oxford American Dictionary). In the early twentieth century, it acquired a pejorative meaning which could be crudely defined as excessive belief in the power or value of science. This is its common use nowadays. In recent years, some have attempted to subvert its negative connotation by appropriating the term as a neutral or honorific rubric to denote philosophical positions criticized for being ‘scientistic.’ For example, a contributor to Science Unlimited? The Challenges of Scientism (‘SU’), Alex Rosenberg, ‘embraces’ scientism (203; cf. 213; 188). Another contributor, Don Ross, elsewhere assents to it. In the opening chapter to Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized, entitled ‘In Defence of Scientism,’ Ross, James Ladyman and David Spurrett declare that they ‘admire science to the point of frank...
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