One can’t help but share in Chagnon’s frustration at the hasty decision of the majority of his disciplinary peers to disown its historical connection to any branch of the complex and variegated scientific tradition. After all, until very recently (and to some extent to this day still in languages such as French and German), a ‘science’ was any relatively systematic body of knowledge, anything the goal or product of which was scientia, and it is only in the very most recent times that the notion has been reduced to the figure of somber men seeking to run the world on the basis of claims of unassailable expertise. Yet the cartoon version of science that Chagnon proposes in response, in its total failure to recognize that there might be special problems of theory-ladenness, power inequality, looping effects, prejudice --in a word, all those factors that make the scientific study of humans a more delicate matter than the study of other domains of nature--, can easily make one wish to take the ‘postmodern’ turn oneself, if only to get away from this astoundingly simplistic pretense of scientificity.--Justin Smith (writing about Napoleon Chagnon’s book, Noble Savages: My Life among Two Dangerous Tribes- The Yanomamö and the Anthropologists (Simon & Schuster, 2013).
Justin is one of the leading historians of philosophy of my generation. He is also a staunch defender of the fact that "one can in fact approach the subject matter of anthropology naturalistically, using the conceptual tools of European traditions of thought, and still come up with theoretically sophisticated accounts of indigenous beliefs that remain nonetheless sensitive to the actual concerns, to the ‘voices’, of the people being studied." (He also wants to bring some anthropological methods into the history of philosophy.)