Akeel Bilgrami on Science and Scientism

Akeel Bilgrami in The Immanent Frame:

One need not have phobia about science, while finding what has come to be called “scientism” intellectually distasteful. This is a familiar distinction, oft made.

What exactly is scientism? Very broadly, it is a kind of overreach in the name of science, taking it to a place beyond its proper dominion. This can happen in many ways. One way is in the making of large claims on science’s behalf, claims that are philosophical rather than scientific, yet relying—by a sleight of hand, a fallacious conflation—on the authority of science. I have written critically of one such claim in The Immanent Frame: there is nothing, no property, in nature that cannot be brought under the purview of science as a form of cognitive inquiry. The present contribution spells out some implications of these criticisms.

Those who deny such a claim—say, for instance, by asserting that nature contains value properties, which do not fall within the purview of science—are frequently dismissed as being unscientific. It is this dismissal that amounts to illicit outreach. It can only be unscientific to contradict some proposition in some science. But no science contains the proposition that science has exhaustive coverage of nature and all its properties. So, it cannot be unscientific to deny that it does.

More here.