A friend recently joked that he was going to legally change his name to “The Science.” With so many people claiming they “follow the science” these days, my friend would be quite popular!
Jokes aside, the benefits we enjoy from science are countless. But I’m tired of hearing, “We follow the science.” It’s vague, perhaps purposely so. If someone asked them what they meant by that, and they clarified that they include cutting-edge research as part of their problem-solving and decision-making, then fair enough.
Science vs. scientism
But some mean more than that, claiming that science can actually lead us down whatever clear path it will uncover. That misunderstands what science can do. Science is a tool in the hands of people. It is not our leader that can prescribe for us what path to take. It is descriptive, not prescriptive: It describes how nature behaves, not how people should behave. That’s the arena of morality and ethics. People can certainly include the latest scientific research to help make decisions based on moral truth. But then they are following their moral standards, not science.
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Author: James Borgwardt
Volume 108, Number 2
Issue: February 2021