Author: Aaron Neil

Against Scientism—A Rejoinder to Bo and Ben Winegard

In ancient Athens, shortly after the death of Socrates, word got out that Plato had come up with a definition of man. Man, according to Plato, was “a featherless biped.” Once he heard this, a philosopher by the name of Diogenes plucked the feathers from a fowl, brought it to Plato’s Academy, and declared, “Behold Plato’s man!” Plato’s definition, as Diogenes’s antics proved, had failed. In their essay “In Defence of Scientism,” Bo and Ben Winegard’s definition of scientism suffers from a similar lack of precision. Scientism, they insist, is simply “the view that scientific attitudes and methods can enhance all modes of empirical inquiry.” This definition is misleading because no one is arguing against the use of scientific methods in scientific pursuits. Critics of scientism worry about the application of scientific methods outside of empirical fields. The great Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, for example, wrote that scientism, “involves a mechanical and uncritical application of habits of thought to fields different from those in which they have been formed.” Simply put, scientism is the application …

Why It’s Time To Stop Worrying About First World ‘Gender Gaps’

Each year, 265 million in public funding goes toward The Canada Research Chairs Program, a program that funds top researchers at Canadian universities. Now, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan is threatening to defund its chairs for not meeting “diversity targets”. The decision came after Minister Duncan took offense at the unequal number of chairs held by women. “There were two times more men nominated (for research chair positions) than women” Duncan exclaimed during in an interview with the Associated Press. Government funding will be withheld until universities nominate an equal number of women. But aren’t universities progressive strongholds, bereft of bias and bastions of equality? Of all places, it seems unlikely that university faculties are actively holding women back. As of December 2016, only 30 per cent of the funded chair positions were held by women. However, between 2000 and 2015, 31 per cent of applicants for the jobs were from women. Based on these numbers it would be impossible to argue that sexist hiring practices are the cause of the gender imbalance in research chairs. Fewer women …