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Scientism
12-19-2008, 12:06 PM
Post: #1
Scientism
Scientism is:

1.) The belief that science is omni-competent to answer all questions.

2.) The belief that science is the sole arbiter of truth.

3.) The belief that if a statement cannot be tested scientifically, then it is meaningless.

The twentieth and late nineteenth centuries saw several attempts to come up with a "scientific" morality. Religion was out, so they needed some alternative basis for it. The results are well known.

(This was cross-posted by Messenger from an Anglican post.)
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12-19-2008, 12:15 PM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2008 12:15 PM by Messenger.)
Post: #2
RE: Scientism
My reaction to Scientism is:

1) Science can answer most but not all questions.

2) Science is a good but not sole arbiter of truth.

3) Science is the best way to test but not the only way.

4) I don't see any reason that a "scientific" morality can't be successful despite the failures so far.

How do others feel?
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12-19-2008, 12:23 PM
Post: #3
RE: Scientism
Messenger Wrote:Scientism is:

1.) The belief that science is omni-competent to answer all questions.

2.) The belief that science is the sole arbiter of truth.

3.) The belief that if a statement cannot be tested scientifically, then it is meaningless.

The twentieth and late nineteenth centuries saw several attempts to come up with a "scientific" morality. Religion was out, so they needed some alternative basis for it. The results are well known.

(This was cross-posted by Messenger from an Anglican post.)

1.) Given enough time and research, it probably is.

2.) For any claim that is verifiable through observation, it is.

3.) Such statements are meaningless for any purpose other than philosophical pondering.

Please expound on what results of "scientific morality" you believe are well known.

If ignorance is bliss why aren't there more happy people?
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12-19-2008, 01:01 PM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2008 01:12 PM by clarence clutterbuck.)
Post: #4
RE: Scientism
I think this is a good thread topic worthy of some thoughtful responses. Kudos to you Messenger.

Personally I like the honesty and purity of scientific thinking, that focusses on looking reality in the face and not succumbing to inherited preconceptions. It obviously cannot answer all questions, but it has the humility to say so, and even when it does answer something by means of a scientific theory, this is not propounded as an absolute truth but merely the best answer that can be given so far, based on the available evidence.

Messenger Wrote:2.) The belief that science is the sole arbiter of truth.

Science is a tool for helping us to decide what is true, or which options are most likely to be the right ones.

Messenger Wrote:3.) The belief that if a statement cannot be tested scientifically, then it is meaningless.

Perhaps not so much meaningless as outside the realm of science. If you are thinking of the untestable question of the existence of God/s, this may be outside the purview of science and incapable of being definitively answered, but there is scope for examining why people believe in gods by examining if such beliefs conveyed a survival advantage to our distant ancestors by increasing social cohesion among unrelated individuals.

Messenger Wrote:The twentieth and late nineteenth centuries saw several attempts to come up with a "scientific" morality. Religion was out, so they needed some alternative basis for it. The results are well known.

If you are referring to Hitler and his reprehensible ideas of eugenics and racial supremacy, I think that this was no more than misappropriating science in a pseudo-scientific way to serve ones personal hates and prejudices. Darwins ideas of the "Survival of the Fittest," were an observation of a state that exists in wild nature and were never intended as a prescription for how humans should behave.

Science is always open to being misappropriated in this way. Chemical and nuclear weaponry come to mind, both of which derive from branches of science that have given us life saving drugs, X-ray medical imaging and nuclear power.
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12-19-2008, 02:07 PM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2008 02:12 PM by Anglican.)
Post: #5
RE: Scientism
1.) Science is limited by its methodology, so that it is only qualified to answer questions about the nature of physical reality. It is not competent in areas such as religion, morality, aesethetics, or philosophy.

2.) Therefore it is not the sole arbiter of truth.

3.) The belief that if a statement cannot be tested scientifically, then it is meaningless, was the underlying presupposition of logical positivism. What the logical positivists failed to notice was what everybody else might have noticed on a first reading - namely that if you apply the Verification Principle to the - um - Verification Principle, it condemns itself as meaningless, because it can't be verified!

Quote:The twentieth and late nineteenth centuries saw several attempts to come up with a "scientific" morality. Religion was out, so they needed some alternative basis for it. The results are well known.

It might be a comforting thought for some people to think that eugenics was limited to Nazi Germany, but unfortunately it isn't true:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_sterilization

The reason that "scientific morality" is bound to be anything but moral is summed up in the well known aphorism, "You can't get an ought from an is."

Science isn't wrong, but scientism is, because it is a disasterous attempt to apply the methodology of the physical sciences in areas where they are wholly inappropriate.
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12-19-2008, 02:21 PM
Post: #6
RE: Scientism
Anglican Wrote:The reason that "scientific morality" is bound to be anything but moral is summed up in the well known aphorism, "You can't get an ought from an is."
I understand the aphorism but I don't see why a scientific morality has to be limited by it. For example, "Tell the truth" is a snippet of morality. If everyone lied, there would be chaos. On the other hand, if everyone told the truth, things would function well. Therefore, let's adopt "Tell the truth" as part of our morality.
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12-19-2008, 02:32 PM (This post was last modified: 12-19-2008 02:35 PM by Anglican.)
Post: #7
RE: Scientism
Messenger Wrote:I understand the aphorism but I don't see why a scientific morality has to be limited by it. For example, "Tell the truth" is a snippet of morality. If everyone lied, there would be chaos. On the other hand, if everyone told the truth, things would function well. Therefore, let's adopt "Tell the truth" as part of our morality.

That may or may not be a workable basis for morality, but what has it got to do with science? It sounds more like philosophy - maybe utilitarianism.
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12-19-2008, 02:44 PM
Post: #8
RE: Scientism
Messenger Wrote:Scientism is:

1.) The belief that science is omni-competent to answer all questions.
2.) The belief that science is the sole arbiter of truth.
3.) The belief that if a statement cannot be tested scientifically, then it is meaningless.

The twentieth and late nineteenth centuries saw several attempts to come up with a "scientific" morality. Religion was out, so they needed some alternative basis for it. The results are well known.

(This was cross-posted by Messenger from an Anglican post.)

1.not true...but if it cant be answered by science, then the question is not that important.
2. not true, but it is by far the best one
3. not meaningless, but it's worth is diminished greatly.[/color]
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12-19-2008, 03:01 PM
Post: #9
RE: Scientism
B MAN Wrote:1.not true...but if it cant be answered by science, then the question is not that important.

You mean that whether or not fraud should be illegal is a totally unimportant question? It's an interesting philosophy, I will give you that.
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12-19-2008, 03:28 PM
Post: #10
RE: Scientism
Anglican Wrote:
Messenger Wrote:I understand the aphorism but I don't see why a scientific morality has to be limited by it. For example, "Tell the truth" is a snippet of morality. If everyone lied, there would be chaos. On the other hand, if everyone told the truth, things would function well. Therefore, let's adopt "Tell the truth" as part of our morality.

That may or may not be a workable basis for morality, but what has it got to do with science? It sounds more like philosophy - maybe utilitarianism.
You're right. At the moment, it doesn't have much to do with science. But, I've read a book titled "The Science of Good and Evil" which has a lot to say about it.
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