chapter  6
14 Pages

Postmodernism and truth-denial as a kind of scientism

We have seen that much sports science implicitly endorses scientism – exemplified by adherence to a commonsense view, inductivism, as a model for scientific knowledge or the scientific method. Such a scientistic conception does no justice to the reality of natural-scientific knowledge. But we appealed to Ramsey’s Maxim because those postmodernists who reject both science (on this conception) and the account of truth it deploys (or, at least, implies) also take this picture of scientific knowledge as definitive of the epistemology of natural science. Against such a position, in chapter 5, we highlighted three misconceptions (here repeated): First, the truth-deniers mistakenly regard inductivism as giving a correct account of the scientific method (were such a thing possible); and then show that, on this conception, neither scientific truth nor scientific ‘progress’ is possible. Second, they take rejection of inductivism to be rejection of both science and truth. But a different account of the epistemology of science, such as that from Kuhn sketched in chapter 5, would escape this criticism. Third, they take rejection of a scientific conception of truth – which they read as roughly as implying ‘one right answer’ – to licence the ‘no answers’ or ‘all arbitrary’ conclusion. But that conclusion cannot follow from granting the previous claims. Instead, there being no single right answer is compatible with there being numerous answers all acceptable, in their own contexts on an appropriate occasion. So this is not a route to arbitrariness.