Science as a Democratic Life-Function and the Challenge of Scientism

European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 12 (2) (2020)
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Abstract

Science is among the most crucial factors for the functioning of modern democracies, yet we tend to conceive of the science-system as mainly driven by its own internal logic and connected with the rest of society via input-output-relations. But does that mean that science is independent from the political system and the cultural life-form into which it is embedded, or is science intrinsically related to democracy? While authors like Hilary Putnam and Philip Kitcher have already tackled these questions, an important part of the problem has hitherto been largely neglected: how is science related to the worldviews one may justifiably hold in a pluralistic society? Arguing with Dewey’s emphasis on the irreducible multitude of human experience, the paper defends a conception of wide “democratic experimentalism”, in which compatibility with science is crucial for the rational acceptability of worldviews and religions, but scientism is vigorously rejected.

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