Archive for February, 2012


Philosophy of Science in the Courtroom: From Falsification to Methodological Naturalism

February 17, 2012

Haixin Dang

Karl Popper had gone as far as setting the demarcation problem—distinguishing science from non-science— as the key to solving most of the fundamental problems in the philosophy of science (Popper 1962: 42). Although many contemporary philosophers of science reject falsification as an appropriate demarcation criterion, it remains one of the most influential ideas in philosophy as well as a powerful tool in public debates about the nature of science. Most notably, falsification was adopted by Judge William Overton in a remarkable decision in 1982 which ruled that creation-science is not science and therefore cannot be taught in Arkansas public schools and cannot receive equal-time treatment as evolution. This project will trace the various demarcation criteria employed in three major American court cases: Scopes (1925), McLean (1981), Dover (2005). I will also be giving a brief history of the creationism movement in 20th century America and the philosophical development of the intelligent design. I will at the end offer some suggestions on how we can–or should–move on from methodological naturalism.