A challenge to the scientific method

By Reuben.

From a random discussion on Facebook comes a rather interesting comment:

I’m not arguing against science or the scientific method at all. In fact, I wasn’t even espousing a particular worldview or religious dogma. My point was simply that Scientism as a worldview is incoherent. This is because Scientism maintains that the ONLY knowledge which is valid comes from the scientific method. But how do they arrive at that conclusion? Using the scientific method? The scientific method cannot be its own justification. Proponents of Scientism are making a metaphysical and epistemological declaration which cannot be arrived at empirically. That was my only point. The same problem holds for Logical Positivism which states that the only meaningful statements are those which are scientific in nature. But that is not itself a scientific statement, but one of abstract reason.



6 Responses to A challenge to the scientific method

  1. Nick says:

    my dear reuben, I do remember touching on this quite some time ago in an argument with you…

  2. Brian says:

    Rene Descartes summed it up in Ad Nauseum when he wrote that tomorrow you might wake up and find yourself surrounded by giant p*nises with b*lls the size of melons being pecked by aggresive birds, and your whole concept of reality is proven incorrect. It’s worth reading Descartes just for the pointless kn*b and b*lls reference really.

  3. Oskar says:

    I have been saying for a long time that everyone makes some assumptions that are necessary to get by in life (on Christmas day last year I challenged Nick not to say anything that relies on an assumed absolute for half an hour, he was silent the whole time).

    We all make assumptions such as “I can trust my senses under normal circumstances”, “I can think coherently”, “I can think at all”…etc. This is normal and an assumed part of “reality”, the description of which is the essence of science.

    Also, it is not the nature of science to prescribe absolutes. As such I have an issue with this:

    “This is because Scientism maintains that the ONLY knowledge which is valid comes from the scientific method.”

    This is equally correct as “Jews hate the world and hope everyone dies” (no offence to any Jewish readers I’m merely illustrating a point {if anything my choice of your ethnic group is a complement to you, as I was trying to make a statement that most people would disagree with}). I believe I could find two Jewish people in the world who feel this, thus validating the statement, but the majority of Jews don’t feel this way.

    In the same way, most subscribers to ‘scientism’ don’t feel that their rationale is justified without assumption, in fact I would suggest that a lower percentage of them believe this than most other belief groups.

  4. nick says:

    thankyou Oskar. I love having a cousin who cna be bothered to write out the same arguments against reuben which he will once again not listen to.

  5. Bruce says:

    This is because Scientism maintains that the ONLY knowledge which is valid comes from the scientific method.

    I think it should be checked that alleged proponents (which from my end of things, seem to be more numerous than actual proponents) of scientism actually think this, before attempting to make criticism.

    Richard Dawkins has had the “scientism” tag applied to him quite often, especially by theologians (along with that other, more vile, straw-man “Social-Darwinist”, and “logical positivist” just to rub it in.)

    Here’s Richard, not doing his best impression of scientism.

  6. Reuben says:

    I haven’t stated a contention, I’ve just introduced a topic.

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