Thursday, January 20, 2011

Free to Make our Future. . . . .


We are, in modern times, often caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the ideological demands placed upon us. On the one hand we know that capitalism has, for want of a better expression, led us down the garden path of near destruction, both through war and environmental disaster. On the other hand we know that many religious people are so bigoted and offensive in their beliefs that the power of what should be a redemptive force often offers little more than inevitable social conflict. Meanwhile, scientists, who often naively believe that there work represents some ‘objective’ and eternal truth, are steeped in ideology, use methodologies that are shockingly anti-creative, and have more or less become the handmaidens of big capital. Even if one accepts, for example, the recent model of ‘global warming’ and seeks to institute technological solutions to some of our major, and profound, problems, not only does the so-called ‘market’ preclude many of these solutions, but scientists are so lost in a technocratic paradigm that they don’t even realize the real inevitable necessity for ethics as a guiding principle to all or our actions both social and personal. The simple fact, going back to a blog I made a few days ago, is that ‘facts’ are not instructive, or to use the words of David Hume, you cannot derive an ought from an is. You could have all the “facts” in the world but the only thing that will really guide our behavior are our ethics. All of our “oughts” come from ourselves not from some objective standard derived from facts about the world. We may find some technologies that help us solve some of our problems, but it is we who must decide to take the ethical actions. In other words, normative or scientific necessitarianism (and I am not using that term in its strictest philosophic sense) are just constructs of a technocratic consciousness. We may determine that certain actions are necessary for our survival, for example, but only our ethically motivated decisions will determine if we take those actions or opt for others. I reject biological determinism and do not believe that we must be held captive by claims of technocrats. One of my favorite adages is one used by the anarchists in the ’68 student revolts and it sums up the real potential of our race – “Be realistic, demand the impossible!” 

2 comments:

doconnor said...

Having scientific facts is a prerequisite to being ethical. You can facts without ethics, but you can't have ethics without facts, your you attempts to be ethical will frequently have unintended consequences that will make you efforts to be ethical unethical. History is rife with examples.

In the global warming debates, you should be happy that for most people the debate is over the science rather then the ethics. Few say global warming is true, but we should both to save those millions of lives. People just say global warming isn't true. (Of course, the puppets-masters behind the scenes could be thinking the former.)

Most people what to do what's right. Figuring out what's right is the hard part, and that needs science.

kirbycairo said...

Thanks for your comment doconnor, I have answered in a post.