Massimo Pigliucci in Scientia Salon:
Recently, here at Scientia Salon I published three essays — two by Robert Nola  and one by Coel Hellier  — that epitomize radical empiricism, more so in Hellier’s than in Nola’s case, I might add. Interestingly, Nola is a philosopher and Hellier a scientist, and indeed it is known by now that “scientism” — which is the attitude that results from radical empiricism — is being championed by a number of scientists (e.g., Lawrence Krauss , Neil deGrasse Tyson ) and philosophers (James Ladyman and Don Ross , Alex Rosenberg ).
Clearly, I find myself puzzled and bewildered by this state of affairs. As someone who has practiced science for a quarter century and then has gone back to graduate school to switch to philosophy full time I have a rather unusual background that, I think, makes me appreciate where radical empiricists come from, and yet which also precludes me from buying into their simplistic worldview.
In the remainder of this essay, then, I will try to do the following:
- Sketch out what I see are the logical moves attempted by radical empiricists;
- Show why they don’t work;
- Explain why this is more than an academic debate, and certainly more than “just semantics.”