This is a message for Steve Innskeep: This morning, when interviewing the scholar on the Armenian genocide by the Turks during WWI, you used the adjective “scientific” to describe the plan for murdering the Armenians.
This is the wrong adjective.
There were no scientists involved in this decision. There were no experiments, data, or results. These decisions were made by generals and politicians. This plan was managed, not scientific. It was calculated, not scientific.
But a couple of years ago, we learned that being scientific had nothing to do with scientists doing experiments, generating data and results:
In fact, I construe “science” broadly: as the use of reason, empirical observation, doubt, and testing as a way of acquiring knowledge. Those methods can indeed apply to history and some of the humanities. But Kitcher’s own conception of science seems to be “the brand of inquiry practiced by natural scientists”: physicists, biologists, chemists, and so on. And so he construes “scientism” as scientists’ attacks on fields like anthropology and history. I think Kitcher’s criticism is misguided because his conception of what is “scientific” is too narrow.
In the end, then, many of Kitcher’s arguments against “scientism” seem misguided—unless you conceive “science” narrowly as “what self-described scientists do.” But science is more than a profession; it’s a method—a method of inquiry that arose from the Enlightenment. In that sense, plumbers and car mechanics practice science when they diagnose problems.
Hate to rain on the Gnu party, but if car mechanics and plumbers are being scientific when practicing their craft, politicians and generals are likewise being scientific when planning and implementing genocide.