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Science Unlimited?: The Challenges of Scientism

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All too often in contemporary discourse, we hear about science overstepping its proper limits—about its brazenness, arrogance, and intellectual imperialism. The problem, critics say, is scientism: the privileging of science over all other ways of knowing. Science, they warn, cannot do or explain everything, no matter what some enthusiasts believe. In Science Unlimited?, noted philosophers of science Maarten Boudry and Massimo Pigliucci gather a diverse group of scientists, science communicators, and philosophers of science to explore the limits of science and this alleged threat of scientism.

In this wide-ranging collection, contributors ask whether the term scientism in fact (or in belief) captures an interesting and important intellectual stance, and whether it is something that should alarm us. Is scientism a well-developed position about the superiority of science over all other modes of human inquiry? Or is it more a form of excessive confidence, an uncritical attitude of glowing admiration? What, if any, are its dangers? Are fears that science will marginalize the humanities and eradicate the human subject—that it will explain away emotion, free will, consciousness, and the mystery of existence—justified? Does science need to be reined in before it drives out all other disciplines and ways of knowing? Both rigorous and balanced, Science Unlimited? interrogates our use of a term that is now all but ubiquitous in a wide variety of contexts and debates. Bringing together scientists and philosophers, both friends and foes of scientism, it is a conversation long overdue.

Author: Boudry Maarten
Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780226498140
Cover: Paperback
Edition Number: 1
Release Year: 2018


1 The Sciences and Humanities in a Unity of Knowledge
Russell Blackford

2 Plus ultra: Why Science Does Not Have Limits
Maarten Boudry

3 Scientism and the Argument from Supervenience of the Mental on the Physical
Filip Buekens

4 Two Cheers for Scientism
Taner Edis

5 Scientism and the Is/Ought Gap
Justin Kalef

6 The Trouble with Scientism: Why History and the Humanities Are Also a Form of Knowledge
Philip Kitcher

7 “Scientism!”
Stephen Law

8 Strong Realism as Scientism: Are We at the End of History?
Thomas Nickles

9 The Fundamental Argument against Scientism
Rik Peels

10 Scientism and Pseudoscience: In Defense of Demarcation Projects
Massimo Pigliucci

11 Strong Scientism and Its Research Agenda
Alex Rosenberg

12 Economics and Allegations of Scientism
Don Ross

13 Why Really Good Science Doesn’t Have All the Answers
Michael Ruse

14 Scientism (and Other Problems) in Experimental Philosophy
Tom Sorell

15 Against Border Patrols
Mariam Thalos

List of Contributors


Maarten Boudry is a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium.

Massimo Pigliucci is the K. D. Irani Professor of Philosophy at the City College of New York. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life.

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