How Not to Criticise Scientism

Johan Hietanen, Petri Niklas Turunen, Ilmari Hirvonen, Janne Karisto, Ilkka Orjo Tapani Pättiniemi, Henrik Saarinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This paper argues that the main global critiques of scientism lose their punch because they rely on an uncharitable definition of their target. It focuses on epistemological scientism and divides it into four categories in terms of how strong (science is the only source of knowledge) or weak (science is the best source of knowledge) and how narrow (only natural sciences) or broad (all sciences or at least not only the natural sciences) they are. Two central arguments against scientism, the (false) dilemma and self‐referential incoherence, are analysed. Of the four types of epistemological scientism, three can deal with these counterarguments by utilizing two methodological principles: epistemic evaluability of reliability and epistemic opportunism. One hopes that these considerations will steer the discussion on scientism to more fruitful pastures in the future. For example, there are interesting methodological considerations concerning what evaluability or reliability and epistemic opportunism entail.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)522-547
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 611 Philosophy
  • scientism
  • transcendental argumentation
  • self‐referential incoherence
  • epistemic opportunism
  • epistemic evaluability
  • scientific imperialism

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