Should philosophers just wear lab coats?

I came across this passage in Rorty’s Objectivity, Relativism and Truth quite by accident (Really–I was avoiding grading papers and dropped something behind my bookcase only to find Rorty’s book which I’m pretty sure isn’t even mine).

…any academic discipline which wants a place at the trough, but is unable to offer the predictions and the technology provided by the natural sciences, must either pretend to imitate science or find some way of obtaining “cognitive” status without the necessity of discovering facts (35).

Now, I have no idea if this actually represents Rorty’s own stance on the use of science in its relations to other non-scientific fields, but it gestures to a rather interesting phenomenon.  That is, if one wants to achieve at best some prestige, or at worst, acceptance of those in the academy,then one has to become “scientific.”  This seems especially evident in those who would like to teach Intelligent Design alongside evolution in the science classroom.  In this case, religion or religious discourse is “dressed up” and parades around as science.  I’m sure there are other examples.


This got me thinking about some of Tom Sorell’s criticisms directed towards various attempts to cook up a scientific philosophy under the guise of  “naturalism”  in his book Scientism.  That book isn’t fresh enough in my head to make any substantive connections here, but I think I recall his solution was some sort of version of Kant.

2 thoughts on “Should philosophers just wear lab coats?

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