Thursday, May 12, 2016

"That's Not Science"

A Scientist Who Regularly Engages in Philosophy Without Realizing It
As I've written before, arguably some creation science is science.  But even if it's not, seldom is it heuristically a good move to label something as not science in borderline cases for two reasons: (1) It tends to be an argument stopper.  Instead of considering the evidence for the claims advanced, the debate ends.  (2) If the one claiming that the other side is not doing science is a scientist, the claim is philosophical and generally beyond the expertise of the scientist making the claim.

Consider two similar examples.  Imagine a Christian, instead of engaging with the arguments of a Buddhist or Astrologist saying, "That's not religion.  Religion is Christianity."  Or suppose a Democrat were to say to a Republican advancing an argument against national minimum wage laws: "Get off it.  What you're saying is not politics."

This is not to say that there aren't clear cases where something is or is not science.  Riding a bike ain't science nor is painting.  Though there is a demarcation problem regarding what counts as science, some particular areas of science such as biology, chemistry, and physics are well defined areas of inquiry.

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