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Diagnosing pseudoscience in real life (a tribute to Sven Ove Hansson)

Boudry, Maarten (2019) Diagnosing pseudoscience in real life (a tribute to Sven Ove Hansson). [Preprint]

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For a long time, philosophers of science have shown little interest in the so-called “demarcation problem” that occupied the pioneers of their field. However, recent years have witnessed a revival of interest in that old chestnut, and even the emergence of a ‘philosophy of pseudoscience’. In this paper, building on the work of Sven Ove Hansson, I defend a symptomatic approach for diagnosing pseudoscience. Pseudosciences are theories which mimic science: they are not epistemically warranted, but they are presented as scientific by their adherents. Because of the way the human mind works, however, all pseudosciences have to create a convincing impression of epistemic warrant. In particular, they have to evade refutations and critical scrutiny, and invite spurious confirmations. Although there are many ways in which a theory can go awry, there are comparatively few ways to create an impression of epistemic warrant. This indirect approach, I argue, provides the clue for diagnosing pseudoscience, and thus for solving the demarcation problem.

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Item Type: Preprint
Keywords: pseudosciene; demarcation; immunizing strategies; Larry Laudan; Karl Popper
Subjects: General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Depositing User: Maarten Maarten Boudry
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2021 15:03
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2021 15:03
Item ID: 18630
Subjects: General Issues > Science vs. Pseudoscience
Date: 2019

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