Philosophy of PseudoscienceReconsidering the Demarcation Problem

Philosophy of PseudoscienceReconsidering the Demarcation Problem

Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780226051796

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

What sets the practice of rigorously tested, sound science apart from pseudoscience? This book seeks to answer this question, known to philosophers of science as “the demarcation problem.” This issue has a long history in philosophy, stretching as far back as the early twentieth century and the work of Karl Popper. But by the late 1980s, scholars in the field began to treat the demarcation problem as impossible to solve and futile to ponder. However, the chapters here make a case for the unequivocal importance of reflecting on the separation between pseudoscience and sound science. Moreover, the demarcation problem is not a purely theoretical dilemma of mere academic interest: it affects parents' decisions to vaccinate children and governments' willingness to adopt policies that prevent climate change. Pseudoscience often mimics science, using the superficial language and trappings of actual scientific research to seem more respectable. Even a well-informed public can be taken in by such questionable theories dressed up as science. Pseudoscientific beliefs compete with sound science on the health pages of newspapers for media coverage and in laboratories for research funding. Now more than ever the ability to separate genuine scientific findings from spurious ones is vital, and this book provides ground for philosophers, sociologists, historians, and laypeople to make decisions about what science is or isn't.

Table of Contents

Front Matter

Introduction Why the Demarcation Problem Matters

MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI AND MAARTEN BOUDRY

Part I What's the Problem with the Demarcation Problem?

1 The Demarcation Problem

MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI

Part II History and Sociology of Pseudoscience

7 Science, Pseudoscience, and Science Falsely So-Called

DANIEL P. THURS AND RONALD L. NUMBERS

Part III The Borderlandsbetween Science and Pseudoscience

10 Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature

CAROL E. CLELAND AND SHERALEE BRINDELL

12 Evolution

MICHAEL RUSE

Part IV Science and the Supernatural

Part V True Believers and Their Tactics

15 Argumentation and Pseudoscience

JEAN PAUL VAN BENDEGEM

17 Pseudoscience

FRANK CIOFFI

Part VI The Cognitive Roots of Pseudoscience

19 Evolved to Be Irrational?

STEFAAN BLANCKE AND JOHAN DE SMEDT

20 Werewolves in Scientists' Clothing

KONRAD TALMONT-KAMINSKI

21 The Salem Region

JOHN S. WILKINS

End Matter