On the scientific status of homeopathy

Author: Chibeni SS
Conference/Journal: Br Homeopath J
Date published: 2001
Other: Volume ID: 90 , Issue ID: 2 , Pages: 92-8 , Word Count: 170

Critics of homeopathy often claim that it is non-scientific. By offering adequate tools for the analysis of the foundations, structure and implications of scientific theories, philosophy of science can help to clarify this medical controversy. However, homeopathy has not yet attracted the attention of philosophers of science to any noticeable extent. Among the many topics to which philosophy of science could contribute, this paper selects two, not only for their intrinsic importance, but also because they are essential for any fruitful discussion of the rest. It is shown, first, that in homeopathy, as developed by Hahnemann, two related, but distinct theoretical levels can be identified. Then it is indicated that at least one of them-the phenomenological level-can be seen as embodying a largely autonomous research programme, on which homeopathic medical practice can rest. Finally, it is argued that this programme displays the basic theoretical and methodological traits of a genuine science, according to an influential contemporary approach in philosophy of science. Some misunderstandings involved in the debate are pointed out.