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Demarcation, Its Problem, Importance, Solutions Essay

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In the 21st century, distinguishing between scientific and non-scientific theories has been one of the most complex issues. Many scientists and philosophers have made attempts to come up with solutions of demarcation (Curd, Cover, & Pincock, 2013, p. 20). Although they both have made tremendous progress in agreeing on some fundamental scientific methods, some areas remain controversial to date. Demarcation is a challenging task while trying to determine the rational and defensible scientific beliefs. This paper intends to examine the problem of demarcation, its importance and critically evaluates attempts to solve it.

Demarcation is a process of determining which hypothesis can be considered scientific. In the modern world, great conflicts between those who believe in science and those who uphold religious views are rapidly emerging. There is significant conflict between religious beliefs and scientific theories as each field intolerably supports their point of view. Aspects previously attributed to religious beliefs are under scientific examination, hence creating the uproar among the two world views (Hansson, 2006. p. 276).

Finding a criterion that distinguishes scientific theories from non-scientific ones can be quite difficult. Nevertheless, scientists are adamant that a way must be developed to avoid the current confusion, especially for students. There has to be a clear definition to establish the scope of a scientific hypothesis and other theories.

The Problem of Demarcation

This refers to the philosophy of determining what hypotheses are considered pseudoscientific and those that are not. Demarcation deals with the tussle between religion and science and questions doctrines that are subject to scientific analysis. Logical positivism also known as verifications demarcates science from religion. Verificationism theory requires only meaningful statements derived from empirical observations questioning the significance of metaphysical and religious statements. Mathematics was meaningless as it lacked empirical evidence. Therefore, this disapproves of human thinking that is dependent on more of a theoretical than empirical data.

Karl Potter proposed alternative theory, falsifications and believed that “science must be falsifiable” (Curd, Cover, & Pincock, 2013, p. 22). This meant that all proven theories were meaningful even though not scientific and could be of help to the science supporting non-scientific theories (Curd, Cover, & Pincock, 2013, p. 20). The existence of non-scientific theories explains unreliable facts based on human ignorance and trust. Scientists accuse philosophers of making fake facts. They complain that the philosophers do not go through the pain of consulting, investigating and all other struggles involved in obtaining evidence and facts.

Distinguishing fake science from the authentic one is the problem that calls for the search of a demarcation. Some people think that it is difficult to distinguish between the two, but others share a different opinion.

Demarcation has created world view differences in distinguishing knowledge from pseudoscience and ideology. This, according to Lakatos, is the demarcation between science and pseudoscience that creates social and political problems (Curd, Cover, & Pincock, 2013, p. 22). Demarcation challenges theories based on mere observations. This has created confusion and people are unable to get a meaning out of metaphysics and religion.

Importance of Demarcation

Poppers’ use of falsification as a demarcation means broadening the views of scientists making them falsify their hypotheses to develop better estimates. This has greatly improved modern science where scientists do not only rely on empirical part of their theories but rather prove and explain them. Science is the most reliable source of knowledge in the universe. Bearing this in mind, scientists assert that it is important to describe scientific theories from non-scientific ones. Nevertheless, this may exacerbate the challenges involved in demarcation. Improved technology has created a leeway for scientists to go beyond the brink and exaggerate the scientific status of philosophical claims. Demarcation of science is vital in some practical fields to avert the chance of inconsistency.

One of the most important areas where the demarcation is needed in the field of healthcare services. Over the years, medical science has been the most efficient and accurate way of treatment (Hempel, 2010, p. 6). Nonetheless, pseudoscientific beliefs present a risk to the well-being of most people exposed to inaccurate and life-threatening interventions. Therefore, there has to be a clear demarcation between medical science and pseudoscientific beliefs (Hempel, 2010, p. 18). This distinction should be clear to all the people involved in the wellness industry, including the government, practitioners, and patients.

Other than health care, environmental policies are also very sensitive, hence the need for demarcation. This is mostly to prevent an environmental hazard. Precautionary measures must be taken to avert the occurrence of a widespread ecological vulnerability as a result of non-scientific beliefs. On the other hand, legislators may make policies based on unwarranted claims of a looming risk. The demarcation between scientific and non-scientific claims can help lawmakers create informed policies for governing the environment.

A clear definition of the scientific and non-scientific aspects of life is vital in expert testimonials, as well as in science education. The reliability of different evidence must be efficient to warrant a scientific or a non-scientific approach to a certain claim. Thus, the judiciary must bear these facts to administer well-versed rulings. With the different opinions and philosophical claims, demarcation is important. This will serve to protect students from defective and censured teachings (Hansson, 2006. p. 279).

Attempts to Solve Demarcation

There are quite several attempts to solve the demarcation problem. The paradigm shift is a situation where several scientists agree on some important and relevant theories, aspects of truth or methodologies. This was a concept created by a great philosopher Thomas Kuhn in his book, ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.’ In essence, the paradigm shift is one of the attempts to solve the demarcation challenge (Nickles, 2013, par. 8).

Kuhn also came up with another attempt to resolve the demarcation problem where he separated the science onto the one before and after the paradigm. This theory unites different schools of thought and theories. He asserts that before reaching consensus on one model, the field does not qualify as an actual science but a pseudoscience.

Let us also look at Lakato’s assertion. First, to develop his theories, he merged the elements of Kuhn’s and Popper’s philosophies. He did this in an attempt to solve the demarcation problem. To achieve his goal, he developed a theory of the extensive program. From this analogy, programs that are successful in predicting novel facts scientifically classified.

Locate went even further and extended Popperian‘s concepts and that of Duhem-Quine research in his work. He described in detail the techniques and theories found in an area as the ‘hardcore’ of a research program. Within the hardcore program, he explained that there was a ‘protective belt’ that formed a supportive hypothesis when changed. Locate observed that if by any chance, the ‘protective belt’ resulted in a situation where there was making of new facts, a progressive research program was qualified (Curd, Cover, & Pincock, 2013, p. 25).

Now, let us consider a more recently developed theory in an attempt to solve the demarcation problem. This is the Non-overlapping Magisterial theory, which essentially aims at making a clear dividing line between religion and science. The concept strictly confines science to its natural foundation that is no ultimate conclusion for a supernatural happening (Gould, 2002, p. 52). For instance, gods can also be found in the confines of science. This, however, has been met with a lot of criticism because it completely ignores the fundamentalism of the modern-day. The critics have asserted that religion and science describe different things.


In this paper, we have extensively explored the aspects of demarcation. Aristotle explained that, for someone to acquire scientific knowledge of something, it was fundamentally important to deal first with the source. For one to reach a clear judgment, there was a need to identify the universals, which were intrinsic in peculiar manners. Most importantly, he observed that for one to sustain a scientific way of knowing there is a need to have apodictic certainty. The differences between science and other theories presented as scientific facts are very readable. As mentioned in the essay, the importance of having a demarcation in science cannot be undermined or overlooked for whatever reason.


Curd, M., Cover, J., A., & Pincock, C. (2013). Philosophy of science, the central issues. New York, NY: W. W. Norton &Company.

Gould, S. J., (2002). Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life. New York: Ballantine Books.

Hansson, S., O., (2006). “Falsificationism Falsified”, Foundations of Science, 11: 275–286.

Hempel, G., G. (2010). Philosophy of natural science. Foundation of philosophy series, 1 (1). 1-10.

Nickles, T., (2013). . in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Web.

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