The Science Wars and the End of History

This site explores the reasons for the breakout of the so-called “Science Wars” in the 1990s. Science Wars were a highly charged debate between scientific realists and postmodern relativists. The former contend that science is the study of objective reality, while the latter point out problems of bias and uncertainty that they argue are inherent in the practice. I argue that intellectual differences between the two sides were not a main trigger for the debate in the 1990s, as they predated the Science Wars by decades. However, the anxiety of many scientific realists and scientists in particular over global changes were more important. The debate happened in the context of what Francis Fukuyama called the “End of History.” At the end of the Cold War, federal funding for science was cut and there was a general rightward political swing in most of the Western World. This spurred some vocal scientists to indict humanist postmodernists on the double charges of absurdity (which makes postmodernists unworthy of funding) and of setting the traditional Left off of its course.