Philosophy Of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering The Demarcation Problem

Paperback | August 16, 2013

EditorMassimo Pigliucci, Maarten Boudry

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What sets the practice of rigorously tested, sound science apart from pseudoscience? In this volume, the contributors seek 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 essays that Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry have assembled in this volume make a rousing 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 The Philosophy of Pseudoscience provides ground for philosophers, sociologists, historians, and laypeople to make decisions about what science is or isn’t.

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What sets the practice of rigorously tested, sound science apart from pseudoscience? In this volume, the contributors seek 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...

Massimo Pigliucci is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York. He has written many books, including Nonsense on Stilts: How to Tell Science from Bunk and, most recently, Answers for Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life. Maarten Boudry is a postdoctoral fellow of the Flemish Fund ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:480 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:August 16, 2013Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022605196X

ISBN - 13:9780226051963

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Table of Contents

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: A (Belated) Response to Laudan
Massimo Pigliucci

2. Science and Pseudoscience: How to Demarcate after the (Alleged) Demise of the Demarcation Problem?
Martin Mahner

3. Toward a Demarcation of Science from Pseudoscience
James Ladyman

4. Defining Pseudoscience and Science
Sven Ove Hansson

5. Loki’s Wager and Laudan’s Error: On Genuine and Territorial Demarcation
Maarten Boudry

Part II History and Sociology of Pseudoscience

6. The Problem of Demarcation: History and Future
Thomas Nickles

7. Science, Pseudoscience, and Science Falsely So-Called
Daniel P. Thurs and Ronald L. Numbers

8. Paranormalism and Pseudoscience as Deviance
Erich Goode

9. Belief Buddies versus Critical Communities: The Social Organization of Pseudoscience
Noretta Koertge

Part III The Borderlands between Science and Pseudoscience

10. Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature
Carol E. Cleland and Sheralee Brindell

11. Science and Pseudoscience: The Difference in Practice and the Difference It Makes
Michael Shermer

12. Evolution: From Pseudoscience to Popular Science, from Popular Science to Professional Science
Michael Ruse

Part IV Science and the Supernatural

13. Is a Science of the Supernatural Possible?
Evan Fales

14. Navigating the Landscape between Science and Religious Pseudoscience: Can Hume Help?
Barbara Forrest

Part V True Believers and Their Tactics

15. Argumentation and Pseudoscience: The Case for an Ethics of Argumentation
Jean Paul Van Bendegem

16. Why Alternative Medicine Can Be Scientifically Evaluated: Countering the Evasions of Pseudoscience
Jesper Jerkert

17. Pseudoscience: The Case of Freud’s Sexual Etiology of the Neuroses
Frank Cioffi

18. The Holocaust Denier’s Playbook and the Tobacco Smokescreen: Common Threads in the Thinking and Tactics of Denialists and Pseudoscientists
Donald Prothero

Part VI The Cognitive Roots of Pseudoscience

19. Evolved to Be Irrational? Evolutionary and Cognitive Foundations of Pseudosciences
Stefaan Blancke and Johan De Smedt

20. Werewolves in Scientists’ Clothing: Understanding Pseudoscientific Cognition
Konrad Talmont-Kaminski

21. The Salem Region: Two Mindsets about Science
John S. Wilkins

22. Pseudoscience and Idiosyncratic Theories of Rational Belief
Nicholas Shackel

23. Agentive Thinking and Illusions of Understanding
Filip Buekens

Contributors
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In Gary Larson’s cartoon ‘Scientist Hell,’ a smirking devil ushers an apprehensive man (beard, spectacles, white lab coat) into a room of nattering enthusiasts. The sign on the door reads, ‘Psychics, Astrologists & Mediums Eternal Discussion Group.’ If a similar room awaits philosophers, the present volume might come in handy.”