Scientism with a Humane Face

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Scientism is usually thought of as sinful, but it can be redeemed for our salvation. Scientism should not be dogmatic, nor should it ignore the actual limitations to current science. Other modes of inquiry deserve epistemic respect, and scientists should not be deferred to about matters beyond their expertise. However, limits should not be placed on what science can study and we cannot say in advance what the limits of future science will be. Where science conflicts with common sense, religion, and tradition, it should be regarded as authoritative for the purposes of education and public policy as well as objective inquiry; and scientific knowledge is even relevant to moral and political deliberation. This is the core of scientism. This chapter elaborates a way of thinking of scientism as a stance characterized in terms of positive and negative components and argues for a humane form of scientism.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationScientism
Subtitle of host publicationProspects and Problems
EditorsJeroen de Ridder, Rik Peels, Rene van Woudenberg
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Print)9780190462758
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018

Structured keywords

  • Centre for Science and Philosophy
  • Centre_for_science_and_philosophy


  • stance
  • scientism
  • reductionism
  • physicalism
  • empiricism
  • materialism
  • naturalism


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