Lifelong Learning Lectures
The question of the demarcation between science and pseudo-science was once a central theme of the philosophy of science, with Karl Popper’s criterion of ‘falsifiability’ (the capacity of a hypothesis to be refuted by evidence) drawing heated debate. The sidelining of this concern since then has coincided with the rise in the public sphere of the unquestioning confidence of a new ‘scientism’, an ideology of science which discourages the self-critical ‘organized scepticism’ (Merton) that was once considered essential to the scientific method. Scientistic pseudo-science more often than not takes the form of the misapplication of theories belonging to natural science onto the social realm, the paradigm example being Social-Darwinism. Such misapplications invariably betray an ideological agenda. The demarcation between ideology and science has been a concern of certain Marxist thinkers, particularly Louis Althusser. This lecture aims to further the case for the centrality of the question of demarcation to a critically confident philosophy of science and to argue for the value of incorporating ideology-critique into this field.
Dr Simon Skempton
Simon Skempton holds PhD in Philosophy. He has taught numerous Philosophy courses at the University of York’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, including ones in the Philosophy of Science and in Marxism. Prior to moving to York, he taught Philosophy of Science and the History of Philosophy in a university in Moscow, Russia.