The green backlash: Scepticism or scientism?

Social Epistemology 23 (2):145 – 163 (2009)
Abstract
Speakers of the “green backlash” movement frequently advertise their approach as one of rigorous scepticism, and themselves as defenders of scientific method. In reality, their use of scepticism is often highly flawed and inconsistent; this is clearly seen in case examples focusing on Philip Stott's arguments on climate change, and Julian Simon's arguments on physical limits to growth. What this discourse illustrates is that sceptical language is often used as a rhetorical tool for advancing an underlying political philosophy that is based on an ideal of modern science as bestower of unlimited material power. In order to understand, and to criticise this discourse effectively, one needs to recall the criticisms made by the likes of Hayek and Arendt of “scientism”—the misuse of the language of science, and its aura of predictive certainty, to portray certain political visions as being inevitably true and triumphant
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