A Contextualist Solution to the Demarcation Problem

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Abstract

In this paper, after presenting three challenges that any knowledge-based demarcation between science and non-science should meet, namely, the skeptical, triviality, and mimicry challenges, I show how a recent contender in epistemology, viz., presuppositional epistemic contextualism, allows these challenges to be met, hence pointing toward a novel solution to the perennial demarcation problem.

Conceiving of scientific knowledge from the vantage point of contextualism forces us to consider science as being first and foremost a distinctive epistemological context, which has the peculiarity of coming with a very high degree of stringency for the truth conditions of putative knowledge attributions. The fact that science imposes particularly stringent norms on knowledge is measured by the extension of the set of counterpossibilities that science is (i) in the business of eliminating on the basis of available evidence and (ii) ready to take seriously (insofar as they are consistent with the scientific community’s pragmatic presuppositions at a given time and place).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for General Philosophy of Science
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Demarcation problem
  • Epistemological contextualism
  • Pseudoscience
  • Science
  • Scientific knowledge

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