Another guest post by Peter Lupu who apparently is as exercised as I am about the pseudo-philosophy that Rosenberg's been peddling. Minor editing and comments in blue by BV.
Scientism is my label for what any one who takes science seriously should believe, and scientistic is just an in-your face adjective for accepting science’s description of the nature of reality. You don’t have to be a scientist to be scientistic. In fact, most scientists aren’t.
But what could Rosenberg mean by the phrase 'should believe'? Does he mean that there are certain epistemic and/or logical norms such that these norms compel anyone who accepts science and takes it seriously to believe certain consequences?
The first problem with the above reconstruction of Rosenberg's explication of scientism is that Rosenberg's paper concludes that beliefs do not exist and that belief is among those mentalistic concepts which he invites naturalists to eliminate as fiction. The second problem is that all norms, whether epistemic, logical, moral, or any other, are also the sort of "dangling concepts" which Rosenberg urges naturalists to give up as fictional concepts because the scientific world view cannot accommodate them.
But now we face a serious difficulty with Rosenberg's notion of scientism. He calls for naturalists to adopt a stand; namely, scientism, which they cannot do, if his argument is sound. For (i) if his argument is sound, then naturalists are compelled to adopt a stand which according to the very same argument does not exist: i.e., believe that, for instance, beliefs do not exist (this is like: "suppose there are no suppositions"; how do you do that?); (ii) Rosenberg maintains that taking science seriously should compel naturalists by the force of epistemic or logical norms to hold the view that there are no norms. So naturalists are supposed to arrive at certain conclusions which deny the very path that Rosenberg calls for them to travel in arriving to these conclusions. This is like telling someone which road to take to a place which will unveil to them that in reality there are no roads. [Very good!]
The notion of scientism proposed here by Rosenberg is the mother of all self-defeating notions: it is even worse than the relativist's proposition that "There are no absolute truths," intended as an absolute truth. (I think Feser makes a similar point on his site and may be using the phrase "mother of all" in this connection; perhaps I got it from him.)
Now, Rosenberg in his response to similar criticisms puts forth the demeanor of someone who is stunned and in some sense insulted by such criticisms because, he seems to suggest, they presuppose that he is unaware of these criticisms. And I certainly agree that anyone who engages the mind-body problem philosophically should be aware of these criticisms (and others like them). What is shocking, however, is not that people bring up these criticisms against Rosenberg's paper, but that he failed to show how he would go about responding to them, given that his position is so obviously vulnerable to such criticisms and that he is aware of their existence. It is precisely for this reason that he opens himself to the charge that his paper is nothing but the rehashing of a familiar and old ideology. Scientism has been around for a while: it is not new. Objections against it are by now part of the tool-kit of everyone dealing with the mind-body problem: they are not new. Rosenberg wishes to sharpen it and draw what he takes to be inevitable consequences from it. Be that as it may. However, one is then obligated to address the stock objections against it, especially if they profess to be well aware of them, or at least demonstrate why are they somehow exempt from answering them. Rosenberg did neither.
Rosenberg thinks that the objections that you, Feser, and others have raised, objections which, admittedly, are so well-known and readily mounted as to amount to 'philosophical boilerplate,' are somehow puerile or sophomoric and thus not to be taken seriously. Not so! It is the very simplicity and lucidity of the objections that make them so powerful. A philosophical position that cannot deal with objections whioch are so luminous to the intellect is in bad shape indeed. Here, I should think, is a case in which simplex sigillum veri.