Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Science versus democracy

March 25th, 2010 by Vader

Often at war

The modern age from its beginnings has involved two great forces pulling in different directions: We might call them, very crudely, science and democracy. Science says there is hard verifiable knowledge available to us about the workings of the material world, and that the material world is all there is, so we would best meet our needs by letting ourselves be guided by technical expertise. Democracy says we should let ourselves be guided by the preferences and wishes of the people, and mostly leave individuals free to pursue their happiness as they wish. These two forces are rooted in some core truths, of course, and each has been immensely beneficial but at times also immensely problematic. They are not always at odds, but they often are. And in the struggle between them, capitalism is certainly on the side of democracy, and of the peculiar, implausible, but evidently true insight that lawful chaos — rather than managed order — is the way to balance liberty and prosperity, justice and wealth.

I think it no accident that scientists are mostly what we are pleased to call liberal nowadays.

Comments (2)
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March 25th, 2010 16:18:35

John Mansfield
March 26, 2010

I think it’s mostly a matter of the company we keep and who butters our bread. Scientists these days are mostly found at universities or working for the government. Roll back the clock sixty years to when most scientists worked in industrial labs, and I expect their politics were more conservative then.

John Mansfield
March 26, 2010

It slipped past me at first the point made about modern liberalism being anti-democratic.

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