Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Science, Scientism, and the Disunity of Science: Popular Science during the COVID-19 Pandemic [Special Issue]

Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science
Keywords: COVID-19 Pandemic, Disunity and Unity of Science, Popularization, Scientism


Unsurprisingly, science has been conferred growing expectations in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly, the issue of dissemination and popularization of scientific outcomes has come to the fore. The article describes the main features of the so-called dominant view in popular science, which is claimed to be implicitly connected to scientism, a stance identifying science as the most (if not the only) reliable source of legitimate knowledge. Scientism’s implicit philosophical roots are argued to lie in naturalism and a trivialized neopositivist concept of science, which underscores the supposed unity of the scientific enterprise. However, in the context of the pandemic, science’s disunity is more than ever visible. It is herein asserted that the untimely glimpse into science’s inner workings, clashing with the dominant view in popular science, promotes a distorted image of science and hinders people’s trust in science. Finally, this article provides wide-ranging recommendations in order to tackle scientism and promote a balanced outlook on science in the fodder consumed by the masses.

Science is often at the center of media coverage and public debate. In the last year and a half, it has received greater attention than usual due to the global health crisis provoked by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rightly or not, people and politicians alike now expect scientific knowledge to somehow guide them as they face an unprecedented health crisis in their lifetime. Indeed, there is ample evidence that…


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