Sunday, December 03, 2006

Demarcation as Politics

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Categories : Philosophy

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published: dimanche 3 décembre 2006 9:34:21

Imre Lakatos begins a lecture on Science and Pseudoscience with:

Man's respect for knowledge is one of his most peculiar characteristics. Knowledge in Latin is scientia, and science came to be the name of the most respectable kind of knowledge. But what distinguishes knowledge from superstition, ideology or pseudoscience? The Catholic Church excommunicated Copernicans, the Communist Party persecuted Mendelians on the ground that their doctrines were pseudoscientific. But then the problem of the demarcation between science and pseudoscience is not merely a problem of armchair philosophy: it is of vital social and political relevance.

I want to take it a step farther and claim that the question is primarily a social/political question. By that I mean that the motivation for asking whether something is science or pseudoscience is primarily social/political in nature.

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