Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday quote: The politicized scientist

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Categories : Science, Friday Quote, The Critics

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published: vendredi 19 janvier 2007 20:48:28

Critics of intelligent design often want scientists to become involved in the political process to prevent the "forces of darkness" from turning the US into a theocracy. It goes without saying that any political decision should receive appropriate input from those knowing the facts of the matter. But what should the scientist do if the facts of the matter don't quite manage to convince the decision-makers to make the decisions he wants them to make? Professor of philosophy Philip L. Quinn takes an interesting approach. Pointing out that decision-makers can be "prejudiced or even stupid", he goes on to suggest that academics use misleading arguments, but only some of the time, so as not to get their hands soiled:

"My colleague, Dan Brock, suggests that academic philosophers should only get involved in the policy-making arena on a temporary, short-term basis. Maybe this is a way in which we could manage to have our cake and eat it too. For a short period one might engage in giving bad effective arguments without being thoroughly corrupted. Then one could retreat back to the academy to wash one's moderately soiled hands. After having one's intellectual integrity restored and reinforced, one might then be ready to repeat the cycle."
Philip L. Quinn, "Creationism, Methodology, and Politics", in Michael Ruse (ed.), But is it Science? The Philosophical Question in the Creation/Evolution Controversy (Prometheus Books, 1996), p. 397

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