The Salem Region: Two Mindsets about Science

In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), The Philosophy of Pseudoscience. University of Chicago Press (forthcoming)
It is often noted that if someone has a tertiary degree in a scientific field who promotes an anti-science-establishment, antiscience, or pseudoscience agenda, they are very often engineers, dentists, surgeons or medical practitioners. While this does not mean that all members of these professions or disciplines are antiscience, of course, the higher frequency of pseudoscience among them is indicative of what I call the “deductivist mindset” regarding science itself. Opposing this is the “inductivist mindset”, a view that has been deprecated among philosophers since Popper. Roughly, the deductivist mindset tends to see problems as questions that can be resolved by deduction from known theory or principle, while the inductivist sees problems as questions to be resolved by discovery. These form cognitive poles, which nobody ever purely instantiates, but a cognitive tendency to be a deductivist may explain why some people find results that conflict with prior theoretical commitments, whether scientific or not, unacceptable. The deductivist tends to be a cognitive conservative, where the inductivist tends to be a cognitive progressive, and the conservative mindset leads to a ressentiment about modernism, and hence about certain scientific results, more often, or so I shall argue in this chapter.
Keywords Cognitive styles  Inductivism  Deductivism
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