Why the Demarcation Problem Matters

In Massimo Pigliucci & Maarten Boudry (eds.), Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem (2013)

Abstract

Ever since Socrates, philosophers have been in the business of asking ques- tions of the type “What is X?” The point has not always been to actually find out what X is, but rather to explore how we think about X, to bring up to the surface wrong ways of thinking about it, and hopefully in the process to achieve an increasingly better understanding of the matter at hand. In the early part of the twentieth century one of the most ambitious philosophers of sci- ence, Karl Popper, asked that very question in the specific case in which X = science. Popper termed this the “demarcation problem,” the quest for what distinguishes science from nonscience and pseudoscience (and, presumably, also the latter two from each other).

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Massimo Pigliucci
CUNY Graduate Center

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