College of Science and Engineering


Chemistry BS

Faculty Mentor

Matthew Rellihan

Faculty Editor

Janice Moskalik

Student Editor

Olivia Moretta


The demarcation problem is a central issue in the philosophy of science, concerning what constitutes science itself and what distinguishes legitimate scientific disciplines from pseudoscience, a distinction that often defies straightforward answers. One proposed response to the demarcation problem is falsifiability; that is, if a theory can be falsified given certain observations, rather than adjusting its premises with ad hoc hypotheses, it is scientific in nature. However, in practice, a criterion of falsifiability fails to account for the realities of most scientific disciplines. This paper proposes a series of criteria distinguishing science from nonscience, based in part on several “virtues of hypothesis” proposed by scientific philosopher Willard Van Orman Quine. While a definitive boundary between science and nonscience may never be reached, these criteria are already somewhat inherent to the peer review process for publication of scientific work. They are founded in utility and relevance to scientific progress and provide an initial framework for distinguishing scientific disciplines based on relative rigor and merit.