How to Defend Scientism

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In this chapter we examine Moti Mizrahi’s claim that philosophers’ opposition of scientism is founded on their worry that scientism poses “a threat to the soul or essence of philosophy as an a priori discipline”. We find Mizrahi’s methodology for testing this thesis wanting. We offer an alternative hypothesis for the increased resistance of scientism: the antipathy started as a reaction to the New Atheist movement. We also consider two varieties of weak scientism, narrow and broad, and argue that narrow versions of scientism draw unnatural and unfounded distinctions within science. Mizrahi belongs somewhere between these two types, but he commits the same mistakes as proponents of the narrow variety. We demonstrate that Mizrahi’s defence of weak scientism is problematic, once again, due to methodological reasons. As an alternative, we propose that weak scientism should be based on epistemic opportunism. Epistemic opportunism explains the success of science with scientists’ willingness to adopt any methods that demonstrably work. We also show how opportunistic scientism can avoid charges of triviality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFor and Against Scientism : Science, Methodology, and the Future of Philosophy
EditorsMoti Mizrahi
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publication dateApr 2022
ISBN (Print)978-1-5381-6333-7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5381-6334-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameCollective Studies in Knowledge and Society
PublisherRowman & Littlefield Publishers

Fields of Science

  • 611 Philosophy

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