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Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering The Demarcation Problem Paperback – 16 Aug 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 478 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (16 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022605196X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226051963
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.6 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 785,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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 "

"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 "

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 ""

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 Graduate Center, CUNY. 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.


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This is a great contribution to the perennial debate about whether pseudoscience is a helpful epistemological category; it successfully refutes the claim that the demarcation dispute is dead, and instead gives a pragmatic toolkit for identifying valid from erroneous science. The idea of using fuzzy logic is particularly appealing, and I feel it may actually be the best way forward.
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Format: Kindle Edition
America has a large number of influential religious fundamentalists. Not as influential as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, and not as fundamental as the Taliban, but in the same league. Europe doesn’t have that problem. What does that have to do with the philosophy of science? In the US, it gives it an edge, what is science and what is religion matters: judges have ruled on it, usually to prevent some form of creationism being taught in schools. Michael Shermer’s essay in this book is an excellent summary of the rulings and issues.

What is good science and what is bad science matters in Europe as well, but the philosophers don’t make a enough fuss about it. Ben Goldacre does, in Bad Pharma. Peter Woit did, in Not Even Wrong. Andrew Gelman and others make fun of bad statistics on their blogs. The philosophers remain silent. A lot of pharmaceutical research is done in a “community” that is corrupt; most epidemiology (the source of “eating rice will extend your life / give you cancer” stories) is simply bad statistics topped by sensationalist journalism; nutrition studies (because it’s important tho know what’s good and bad to eat, right?) are weak to say the least. String theory? The computer models behind “climate science”? And of course, there’s evolution, which has been flavoured with just about every political and social ideology its proponents have held. Creationism may have an "inescapable religiosity” in the words of one US judge, but evolution from Darwin to Gould has so far been inescapably ideological: there’s a neat essay by Michael Ruse about that in this volume. As for psychiatry and its unhealthy link with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, that’s so bad that even former editors of the DSM have spoken about it.
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By Phil on 29 April 2014
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Great book...expertly plotted with lots of creativity. I would highly recommend this book to others who enjoy reading about this subject area.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice number of perspectives on demystifying what is an important social distinction 26 Feb. 2014
By Kel S - Published on Amazon.com
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.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarifying the Nature of Science 19 Jun. 2014
By Theodore Douglas - Published on Amazon.com
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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.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get ready to be better informed, it's a pleasurable experience. 21 April 2015
By Sri Ahimsa - Published on Amazon.com
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An engaging presentation of what I had assumed was a simple problem, the separation of science from pseudoscience. Another tiny bit of ignorance was gently corrected. The world is rarely simple when we look and Pigliucci knows how to make investigations interesting.
16 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A look into the world of academic Philosophy 10 Jan. 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 2 Sept. 2014
By Eveline Gevaert - Published on Amazon.com
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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