Friday, May 6, 2011

Technocrats and Philosopher Kings can Save our Impotent Polity

Wow, really awesome article on Climate Resistance, Trust Me, I Speak for Science. I liked these parts from the concluding paragraphs especially. I think you'll notice the parallels to my posts, The Social Ethic and Appeals for Technocracy and No Fluid Dynamicist Kings in Flight-Test.
This metaphysical confusion runs throughout Mooney’s argument. For Mooney, ‘ideology’ is some insidious, toxic force, the antithesis to ‘truth’ itself. The thrust of his argument is that we need particular scientific institutions to ameliorate this intrinsic weakness of human nature. And as such, these institutions deserve elevated status above the reach of those prone to ideology. Otherwise, we would tend towards creationism, to MMR-scares, to climate-change denial. In other words, our flawed minds would create a catastrophe, and it is this possibility of catastrophe that seemingly legitimises the elevated position of scientific institutions. Mooney reinvents Plato’s city state administrated by Philosopher Kings, the main differences being that Mooney conceives of a global polity, and the wisdom of the Guardians only produces the possibility of mere survival, not even a better way of life. To bring this back the matter of trust, Mooney doesn’t trust humans. Their minds are flawed. Their ambitions and ideas are mere fictions. The institutions they create are accordingly founded on false premises, which, instituted and acted upon, will cause disaster. Even when humans are exposed to ‘the truth’, it is, on Mooney’s view, absorbed into the poisonous, ideological programmes of partisans: liars and cheats who distort it. But without a disaster looming, this instance of a politics of fear would collapse.
He simply can’t make a popular argument for his political idea, and so turns to ‘science’ to identify the necessity of such a programme — i.e. the crisis — and to identify reasons why conventional democratic processes cannot realise it...
It's always a good day when you can throw a little Plato into the mix ; - )

1 comment:

  1. I have never understood an appeal to scientific authority. It seems so obviously self-contradictory. Those that regularly employ the scientific method — "the method wherein inquiry regards itself as fallible and purposely tests itself and criticizes, corrects, and improves itself" (quote from Wikipedia) — should be among the last to consider making such an authoritarian appeal.