How Scientism Rules Out the Presuppositions of Science

November 27, 2018

Not only is scientism not science; it is not even a friend of science but rather its enemy. Just as the structure of a building cannot be more reliable than the foundation on which it rests, so the conclusions of science (i.e., the structure) cannot be more certain than the presuppositions of
science (i.e., its foundation).

But strong scientism rules out these presuppositions altogether, because the nature of the presuppositions is philosophical, just as defending the presuppositions is also a philosophical, not a scientific matter. In this way, then, scientism ends up loosening the foundations of science itself, jeopardizing the entire edifice.

For example, consider the following presuppositions of science, which science itself cannot justify.

  1. A world exists “out there,” independent of mind, language, or theory.
  2. The nature of the world is orderly, especially its “deep structure” that lies under and
    beyond the manifest world of ordinary perception.
  3. Objective Truth Exists
  4. Our sensory and cognitive faculties are reliable for gaining truth and knowledge of the world, and they are able to grasp the world’s deep structure that lies beyond the
    sense-perceptible world.
  5. Various types of values and “oughts” exist (e.g., moral, rational, and aesthetic values).
  6. The laws of logic and mathematics exit.

With the above presuppositions, the issues before us are these:

(A) The nature and content of the presuppositions are not scientific; they are philosophical. So the task of stating and clarifying each assumption is a philosophical and not a scientific one.

(B) The task of defending, criticizing, and offering alternatives to each presupposition is a philosophical one and not within the competence of science.

(C) The task of even arguing whether or not science rests on assumptions or on some specific one is not a scientific one; it is philosophical.

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