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Monopolizing Knowledge Paperback – July 30, 2011
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This is a book with many profound insights that should be read by anyone who is interested in understanding how we come to regard things as "scientific facts".
Dr. Hutchinson argues against scientism: the popular belief that the only kind of knowledge is science. Scientism leads to everyone scrambling to have what they do classified as "science", and to rejecting other kinds of knowledge. This, in turn, leads critics of this overly inclusive view of science to reject all of it, including traditional science.
Professor Hutchinson lists what he thinks are the characteristic properties of traditional science: clarity and repeatability. He distinguishes different kinds of science, such as astronomy, which he classifies as an "observational "science. It is different from physics - but still having clarity and repeatability. He rules out sociology and political science because of the lack of repeatability.
I think that Professor Hutchinson's discussion of evolution is one of the best. He makes a distinction between natural law and natural history. Natural law includes physics. Natural history includes evolution - it is historically oriented and relies on different standards of validation than natural law. For example, observations in physics necessarily follow from the theory. In the case of evolution, observations that are plausible are offered as evidence. Dr. Hutchinson notes that the controversy surrounding evolution is partly the result of its insistence on being called a science (i.e. natural law), in the same meaning of the word as physics. If we were to accept that there are kinds of valid knowledge other than science, such as natural history, then the controversy could be defused.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Scientism can be treated from a variety of perspectives. This is a good, ordinary critique by a Christian plasma MIT physicist, a useful summary, but at a very philosophically... Read morePublished on July 16, 2013 by Louis Berger