Remarks on Methodological Relativism and “Antiscience”

Jean Bricmont

Edited by Alan Sokal

in The One Culture?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780226467221
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226467245 | DOI:
Remarks on Methodological Relativism and “Antiscience”

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Sociologists frequently admit that they don't have the background to evaluate whether the claims made by scientists (particularly concerning contemporary research) are rationally justified or not, but then they assert that they are not obliged to make any such evaluation: they are concerned with social phenomena, not with physical or biological ones, and so are perfectly justified in ignoring this latter aspect. That would perhaps be fine if their aims were more modest than those of the “Strong Programme”: if, for example, they claimed only to recount some of the factors affecting the acceptance of scientific beliefs, without purporting to judge their relative importance. But in that case they ought not claim to give a causal account of the acceptance of scientific beliefs, when important parts of the cause—usually the dominant parts, in our view—are excluded a priori from consideration.

Keywords: methodological relativism; antiscience; Strong Programme; scientific beliefs; sociology; contemporary research

Chapter.  2476 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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