Friday, October 13, 2017

The testability of scientism

What science cannot discover, mankind cannot know?

No chance. 

The statement I quoted from Russell above is obviously self-refuting. It is not a scientifically testable claim, so if it is true, it cannot be known to be true.

10 comments:

Hal said...

On a related note, Edward Feser is going to be giving a talk on scientism at UC Berkely next Thursday. Registration for the talk is HERE.

I've signed up and am looking forward to hearing his take on this topic.

Hal said...

Forgot to add: if anyone here is planning on going, let me know and I'll treat you to a drink at the Triple Rock Brewery afterwards. :-)

Starhopper said...

Part of the reason why I love the movie Hail, Caesar! is that the main character, struggling over whether to accept a job offer that will totally change his life, rather than laying out a "scientific" case of the pros and cons of each alternative, prays the Rosary and goes to Confession before making his decision.

The scientific method is not always the most appropriate way to learn something.

Miguel said...

>scientism
>2017

Well, to be fair, it took logical positivists some two decades for them to finally realize their position was insane and obviously false.

brownmamba said...

"Part of the reason why I love the movie Hail, Caesar! is that the main character, struggling over whether to accept a job offer that will totally change his life, rather than laying out a "scientific" case of the pros and cons of each alternative, prays the Rosary and goes to Confession before making his decision.

The scientific method is not always the most appropriate way to learn something."


Religious people go completely overboard with the idea that "we can know things that are not proven by science". Just because we can know things to a reasonable degree without the scientific method, doesn't mean everything goes. The above is a perfect example. Consider another example: Studying for an exam beats praying the rosary, every time.



Starhopper said...

Studying for an exam beats praying the rosary, every time.

Of course it does. That's precisely why I wrote "The scientific method is not always the most appropriate way to learn something." That implies there are times when it is. Are you saying that the SM is always the most appropriate way?

(And by the way, as far as preparing for an exam, I have found through experience that both study and prayer is the best course of action. Beats just one or the other every time.)

Joe Hinman said...

Religious people go completely overboard with the idea that "we can know things that are not proven by science". Just because we can know things to a reasonable degree without the scientific method, doesn't mean everything goes. The above is a perfect example. Consider another example: Studying for an exam beats praying the rosary, every time.

there are some religious people who don't think everything can be known through religious belief.

Joe Hinman said...

al said...
On a related note, Edward Feser is going to be giving a talk on scientism at UC Berkely next Thursday. Registration for the talk is HERE.

I've signed up and am looking forward to hearing his take on this topic.

take note, a,e a report, i can't go to Berkeley right now.

Hal said...

Joe,
Yes, I will try and give a brief summary of the talk.

Hal said...

Joe,
Interesting talk.

Briefly, here are some of the points he made:

The problems resulting from science relying on empirical information and at the same time removing all qualitative properties from matter. That conception of matter leads to dualism and problems of interaction between mind and body.

The 'bad argument' that because science has been so successful in technology and analyzing parts of the universe one can safely assume that it can do the same for everything.

He did point out that there has been a movement from reductionistic naturalism to a non-reductionistic stance.

He mentioned a recent concern by some scientists that physicists may be mistaking their concepts for what they are concepts of - confusing the map with the territory.

He also presented a short review of Dennett's latest book.

No startling revelations, most of the same criticisms can be found at this blog and Feser's blog. But it was a clear and and well-laid out presentation. A lot better than what one may conclude from the few snippets I've given above.

The talk was recorded. Don't know if there are any plans to make it available on the web.

Am very glad I attended. It was rather refreshing discussing some of these issues outside of the usual bickering and one-upmanship that often takes place on the web.