Should a tenure committee for a scientific academic position make its decisions on the basis of a candidates opinions on non-scientific questions?
I ask the question because recently Iowa State University appears to have denied tenure to astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez on the basis of his opinion on the question of whether Intelligent Design is science. But (and this will really send the anti-ID crowd into paroxysms of rage) the question of what science is is not itself a scientific question.
It seems to be an unquestioned assumption on the part of everyone involved in the debate that those most qualified to answer the question of what science is are scientists. But that would only be the case if the question, "What is science?" were a scientific question.
Well, is it?
If it is, then answers to it should meet scientific criteria. Let's take testability as an example (that is, after all, the one most often used against ID): Is the statement "Science is what is testable" a testable statement?
How about the scientific method? Is the statement "Science consists of those things which are amenable to the scientific method" amenable to the scientific method?
Come up with whatever criterion you will, I think you will have a hard time finding one that meets its own criterion. What does that say about the question, "What is science?"
It seems to me that where science lies in the larger scheme of things is not a question for someone who specializes in science, but for someone who specializes in the larger scheme of things--in other words, a philosopher. Is it not a philosophical, and not a scientific question? In fact, it is pretty clear that it is the philosopher of science who is the expert in this area.
If this is the case, then ISU, in denying Guillermo Gonzalez tenure because of this views in support of ID, is taking this action on the basis of a question that is outside their realm of expertise. It is not deciding on his tenure on the basis of scientific questions, but on the basis of philosophical questions which to my knowledge have not been settled in the field of the philosophy of science.