University of Hertfordshire

Scientism as a Threat to Science: Wittgenstein on Self-Subverting Methodologies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review



  • Maria Tejedor Palau
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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWittgenstein and Scientism
EditorsJonathan Beale, Ian James Kidd
Place of PublicationNew York & Abingdon
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-27619-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-82939-8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2017


Wittgenstein is typically viewed as concerned with one particular variety of scientism: scientism understood as the threat posed by the application of scientific practices to areas of our lives in which they do not belong – in particular, into ethics, religion or philosophy. This understanding of Wittgenstein’s preoccupation with scientism is not unfounded and certainly comes to the fore at several junctures in his writings. I propose to show, however, that too narrow a focus on this aspect of Wittgenstein’s treatment of scientism distorts both his thinking on science and the nature of his preoccupation with scientism. This, at any rate, is the picture that emerges when we consider this question from the perspective of his early remarks on science, in the Tractatus and ‘A Lecture on Ethics’.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Wittgenstein and Scientism on 8 June 2017, available online: Under embargo until 8 December 2018.

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