Monday, July 31, 2006


Robert C. Koons on The Failure of Demarcation Arguments

'Much of the philosophy of science in the mid-twentieth century was taken up in a quixotic attempt to find a line of demarcation between science, on the one hand, and metaphysics and commonsense knowledge, on the other. Every such attempt to find necessary and sufficient conditions for counting something as "scientific enquiry" or as a "scientific theory" ended in utter failure. The usual candidates - verifiability, falsifiability, testability, repeatability, quantifiability, operationalizability - all turned out to be at best rules of thumb, useful guidelines to bear in mind, but far from characterizing all the scientific ideas... If science really were a distinctive mode of knowing, demonstrably superior to commonsense and all other methods, we might be under a kind of intellectual duty to base all of our beliefs on science alone. However, since science cannot be demarcated from the rest of knowledge, our ordinary ways of warranting beliefs are under no such cloud of suspicion and remain innocent until proven guilty.'

(Robert C. Koons, 'Science and theism: Concord not conflict', in Paul Copan & Paul K. Moser (ed.'s), The Rationality of Theism, Routledge, 2003, p. 76-77)

Watch Koons' lecture on 'Science and Theism' @

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