Postmodernist Rhetoric Does Not Change Fundamental Scientific Facts

Scientific Facts Few natural scientists have heard of philosophers Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, or any of their followers in the modes of literary criticism, historical analysis, and social studies known collectively as "postmodernist criticism." These approaches-also given new names, such as deconstructionism, structuralism, and social constructionism-question the justifications for authoritative statements on meaning or significance of facts or concepts in the natural s

Irving Klotz
Jul 21, 1996

Scientific Facts Few natural scientists have heard of philosophers Paul de Man, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, or any of their followers in the modes of literary criticism, historical analysis, and social studies known collectively as "postmodernist criticism." These approaches-also given new names, such as deconstructionism, structuralism, and social constructionism-question the justifications for authoritative statements on meaning or significance of facts or concepts in the natural sciences. While such views may be fine for literary, historical, or social criticism, they should have little pertinence in theory or experimentation in the life sciences.

As a communal enterprise, science strives to formulate statements that are true and objective. By true, we mean that the statements correspond to our observations of natural phenomena over time with progressively increasing accuracy. By objective, we mean that the statements have been purged of any prejudices and predilections of individual participants in the enterprise.

Antithetically, postmodernists assert...