Collapse Volume V, 135–186


Who’s Afraid of Scientism? (Interview)


In 2007 James Ladyman and Don Ross published Every Thing Must Go: Metaphysics Naturalized, an attempt to synthesize Ladyman’s ‘Ontic Structural Realism’ and Ross’s ‘Rainforest Realism’ into a unified metaphysics applicable to science from physics to economics. Beginning with a blistering polemic against what they call ‘neo-scholastic metaphysics’, Ladyman and Ross argue for an approach to metaphysics which goes far beyond the vague science-friendliness characteristic of so much of contemporary soi-disant naturalism in favour of an unabashedly ‘scientistic’ stance. Dispensing with the habitual ontology of ‘little things and microbangings’ which continues to hold sway in contemporary ‘pseudo-naturalist philosophy’, Every Thing Must Go provides the case for a radically naturalistic metaphysics capable of taking on board the most counterintuitive findings of modern physics without impugning the epistemic credentials of the special sciences. In our interview, Ladyman discusses the reasons for his exasperation with philosophers who persist in doing metaphysics as if modern science had never happened, provides a robust defence of ‘the scientistic stance’, and explains how the position developed in Every Thing Must Go provides a heuristic framework for the unification of the sciences via a dialectical synthesis of the strengths of both realism and empiricism…