Intellectual Terrorism or a Just War? by

Whether we think of the routine conviction or acquittal of suspects on the basis of scientific evidence in the law courts, the trust placed in scientific medicine and the extraordinary interventions it makes possible, or the importance that policy makers attach to the opinions of scientists, it is clear that those making up our scientific institutions are among the most authoritative and respected people that there are. Among intellectual endeavours science has an unrivalled dominance in terms of funding, status and influence on practical affairs. However, the days when natural science was widely considered to be a model for the study of the arts and the humanities already seem distant. Indeed the influence of science even within subjects which were conceived of as scientific from their very inception, such as political science and sociology, has waned considerably. Perhaps in economics scientism is still dominant but elsewhere in academia a widespread disillusionment with science has taken hold. Perhaps this is understandable given what were with hindsight the obviously foolish attempts to study everything with the same methodology as is employed in physics. Yet the backlash against a misconceived scientism and reductionism in the study of social life and culture has amounted to more than just a defence of disciplinary boundaries, for critics of science now assail it in its own castles (which they allege are built in the air).
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