Now that school's out, I'll be able to blog more! In this post I share some thoughts in kernel form that I hope to flesh out soon in full size posts.
Is it actually possible to find some common feature shared by all the things we call science, and not shared by anything else? Popper assumed that the answer to this question was yes. He felt that Freud’s and Marx’s theories were clearly unscientific, so there must be some feature that they lack and that genuine scientific theories possess. But whether or not we accept Popper’s negative assessment of Freud and Marx, his assumption that science has an essential nature is questionable. After all, science is a heterogeneous activity, encompassing a wide range of different disciplines and theories. It may be that they share some fixed set of features that define what it is to be a science, but it may not. The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that there is no fixed set of features that define what it is to be a ‘game’. Rather, there is a loose cluster of features most of which are possessed by most games. But any particular game may lack any of the features of the cluster and still be a game. The same may be true of science. If so, a simple criterion for demarcating science from pseudo-science is unlikely to be found. (pp.16-17)