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Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem Paperback – August 16, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (August 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022605196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226051963
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The problem of demarcation—distinguishing credible science from pseudoscience—is a crucial one, but one that has generally been neglected in recent philosophy of science. It is the issue that underlies such topical debates as that between evolutionists and creationists or intelligent design theorists, for example. This volume does a great service by bringing an impressive range of leading philosophers of science from a wide variety of perspectives to reconsider the issue. It is much to be hoped that its publication will spark a revival of interest in this vital issue.” 
(John Dupre University of Exeter)

Philosophy of Pseudoscience is a remarkable contribution to one of the most vexing problems in science: the ‘demarcation’ problem, or how to distinguish science from nonscience. The well-designed diversity of topics and the collective breadth of knowledge of the authors make this book the most comprehensive and authoritative treatise on a majority of the traditional and current demarcation issues. . . . You have a jewel in your hands.” 
(Francisco J. Ayala University of California, Irvine)

"A manual to overcome our natural cognitive biases."
(Corriere della Sera (Italy))

“If the philosophical problem of demarcating science from pseudoscience has a stale reputation, this book is a revitalizing gust of fresh air. Philosophers Pigliucci and Boudry assemble 23 essays that challenge Larry Laudan’s famous 1983 proclamation of the demarcation problem’s demise. Renewed attention to the philosophical questions that pseudoscience raises mirrors an uptick in interest in pseudoscience among historians, as exemplified by Michael Gordin’s The Pseudoscience Wars. Complementing such work, these essays bring focused attention to the practice and historical development of science. . . . A superb introduction to foundational questions that every philosophy student should confront. . . . Accessibly written . . . intellectually adventurous. . . . Essential.”
(J. D. Martin, University of Minnesota Choice)

“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.”
(Martin Curd, Purdue University Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews)

About the Author

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 for Scientific Research at Ghent University and wrote a dissertation on pseudoscience, Here Be Dragons: Exploring the Hinterland of Science.  

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Kel S on February 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
We live in an age where science is a privileged epistemology (with good reason!), and as such, it becomes important to be able to distinguish what is science from what is not. Yet as this volume demonstrates, it's much easier to say what is pseudoscience (creationism, astrology, homoeopathy) and what is legitimate science (big bang, evolution, germ theory) than it is to give an account of why something fits in either category. After reading these 23 entries, one should be clearer on why.

Popper, so it is argued, erred when he tried for a single criteria demarcation. The first few essays try to rescue Popper's project from Laudan's 1983 criticism. I can only call it that because neither the Popper papper nor Laudan's grace this volume - not too much of a problem for an academic with access to the supplementary material, but trying to figure out Laudan's criticisms on the fly is the task confronting the layman in the early chapters.

One of the things that surprised me was that the focus of the demarcation problem isn't so much an academic issue as it is a cultural one - while there's the issue of what's funded and what's worthy of study in the scientific community, largely the problem is for non-experts to recognise the difference between science and non-science. One interesting essay was by the philosopher Jean Paul Van Bendegem who argued for the ethical imperative to fight pseudoscientific rhetoric by turning it back on them.

Aside from Van Bendegem's essay, other highlights included Maarten Boudry's essay on the boundaries of demarcation, Barbara Forrest's essay on how Hume's ideas apply to the problem, John Wilkins' essay on the rationality of pseudoscientific beliefs, Konrad Talmont-Kaminski's essay on the same subject, and Filip Buekens' essay on the prevalence agency-based thinking. All the essays were worth reading, even if a couple of essays tended to be heavy on the jargon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Theodore Douglas on June 19, 2014
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This excellent collection of essays, edited by Pigliucci and Boudry, deals with a question that most people, aware of it or not, encounter in daily life: how do we tell the difference between genuine science and pseudoscience? It's a question well worth considering as we are bombarded with the claims of "alternative medicine," creationism, cryptozoology, etc., as it has serious implications in the legal, economic, and moral fields.
The 23 essays included in this volume are very interesting in their treatment of the many aspects of this philosophical inquiry, but might be most suited to the serious student of philosophy. There is some serious food for thought here, but the casual reader might find the going heavy at times. For maximum enjoyment the reader should bring a broad vocabulary and an unabridged dictionary to the table, but will enjoy the rewards of the effort.
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13 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 10, 2014
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I read this book after enjoying "Nonsense on Stilts" (2011) by Massimo Pigliucci. That book seemed suitable for a moderately well-read lay audience, including me. "Philosophy of Pseudoscience" is an edited collection of invited papers from 23 authors, most of whom are academic Philosophers.

With diligence and unwonted effort, I did read the whole book. It helps to be familiar with the language of Philosophy. For example, the words Normative, Descriptive, and Methodological evidently have precise definitions in academic Philosophy. With my pre-existing bias favoring Pigliucci's and Michael Shermer's views on Demarcation, I found most of the remaining authors more interesting for their style than their substance.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Eveline Gevaert on September 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I just started reading this book and I find it very interesting. I read 'De ongelovige Thomas had gelijk' by Maarten Boudry and Johan Braeckman and I loved it. I have the same feeling with this book.
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0 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Marcwojo on August 25, 2014
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have you noticed how much they quote each other? as a scientist, they seem to be obsessed with words not actual experience. I act actually like reading metaphysics but this book is sheer gibberish. the whole idea of a demarcation is nonscience.
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