viernes, 13 de mayo de 2011

Patricia S. Churchland on “Scientism”

“When we speak of the possibility of linking large-scale questions about our mind with developments in the neurosciences, there are those who are wont to wag their fingers and warn us about the perils of scientism. That means, so far as I can tell, the offense of taking science into places where alleg- edly it has no business, of being in the grip of the grand delusion that science can explain everything, do everything. Scientism, as I have been duly wagged, is overreaching.

The complaint that a scientific approach to understanding morality commits the sin of scientism does really exaggerate what science is up to, since the scientific enterprise does not aim to displace the arts or the humanities. Shakespeare and Mozart and Caravaggio are not in competition with protein kinases and micro RNA. On the other hand, it is true that philosophical claims about the nature of things, such as moral intuition, are vulnerable. Here, philosophy and science are working the same ground, and evidence should trump armchair reflection. In the present case, the claim is not that science will wade in and tell us for every dilemma what is right or wrong. Rather, the point is that a deeper understanding of what it is that makes humans and other animals social, and what it is that disposes us to care about others, may lead to greater understanding of how to cope with social problems. That cannot be a bad thing.”

Patricia S. Churchland in Braintrust. What neuroscience tell us about morality (Princeton, Pag. 4-5). The introduction is available for free here.

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