Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 283–298 | Cite as

Identifying Pseudoscience: A Social Process Criterion

  • Gregory W. DawesEmail author


Many philosophers have come to believe there is no single criterion by which one can distinguish between a science and a pseudoscience. But it need not follow that no distinction can be made: a multifactorial account of what constitutes a pseudoscience remains possible. On this view, knowledge-seeking activities fall on a spectrum, with the clearly scientific at one end and the clearly non-scientific at the other. When proponents claim a clearly non-scientific activity to be scientific, it can be described as a pseudoscience. One feature of a scientific theory is that it forms part of a research tradition being actively pursued by a scientific community. If a theory lacks this form of epistemic warrant, this is a pro tanto reason to regard it as pseudoscientific.


Science Pseudoscience Research traditions Scientific communities Social epistemology Velikovsky Homeopathy Germ-theory Plate tectonics 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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