Friday, 27 January 2012

Science vs Scientism

Wikipedia entry on "scientism" states that:

Scientism may refer to science applied in excess, as criticised by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who held that science risks being made a belief system like any other, and must be open to criticism if and when it becomes so. The term "Scientism" can apply in either two equally perjorative senses:

1. To indicate the improper usage of science or scientific claims. This usage applies equally in contexts where science might not apply, such as when the topic is perceived to be beyond the scope of scientific inquiry, and in contexts where there is insufficient empirical evidence to justify a scientific conclusion. It includes an excessive deference to claims made by scientists or an uncritical eagerness to accept any result described as scientific. In this case the term is a counter-argument to appeals to scientific authority. (emphasis added by blogger)
2. To refer to "the belief that the methods of natural science, or the categories and things recognized in natural science, form the only proper elements in any philosophical or other inquiry," (Blackburn, 2005) or that "science, and only science, describes the world as it is in itself, independent of perspective" (Putnam, 1992) with a concomitant "elimination of the psychological dimensions of experience."

Given the right-wing penchant for sophistry (ie, Harper and his ilk), the newly acquired term "science" in the context of the tar sands and environmental review and regulations in the conservative narrative "science" must be interpreted as nothing other than "scientism", especially when, in other fields of political discourse, the neo-cons have belligerently insisted that they do not operate on the assumption of evidence.

I mean, these are people who equate legality with morality and that the ends justify the means as long as the ends favour them and/or their friends. To wit: climate change has nothing to do with human activities, regardless of what scientific evidence says.


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