17 Search Results for: bo+winegard

Against Scientism—A Rejoinder to Bo and Ben Winegard

In ancient Athens, shortly after the death of Socrates, word got out that Plato had come up with a definition of man. Man, according to Plato, was “a featherless biped.” Once he heard this, a philosopher by the name of Diogenes plucked the feathers from a fowl, brought it to Plato’s Academy, and declared, “Behold Plato’s man!” Plato’s definition, as Diogenes’s antics proved, had failed. In their essay “In Defence of Scientism,” Bo and Ben Winegard’s definition of scientism suffers from a similar lack of precision. Scientism, they insist, is simply “the view that scientific attitudes and methods can enhance all modes of empirical inquiry.” This definition is misleading because no one is arguing against the use of scientific methods in scientific pursuits. Critics of scientism worry about the application of scientific methods outside of empirical fields. The great Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek, for example, wrote that scientism, “involves a mechanical and uncritical application of habits of thought to fields different from those in which they have been formed.” Simply put, scientism is the application …

Selective Blank Slatism and Ideologically Motivated Misunderstandings

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select—doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. ~John B. Watson Blank slatism is the view, exemplified here with John B. Watson’s characteristic arrogance, that human nature is highly flexible and largely determined by environmental forces. Because almost all the available evidence suggests that blank slatism is incorrect, many scholars are puzzled that versions of this philosophy appear to remain popular in certain university departments and among the intelligentsia more broadly. Some critics of progressivism, such as the economist Thomas Sowell, have contended that political progressives are particularly likely to hold blank slate beliefs as a result of their tendency to attribute many social disparities to environmental and social causes and to de-emphasize genetic ones. Others—usually those favorably inclined to progressivism, like the Guardian‘s …

What the Alt-Right and Regressive Left Have in Common

The world is getting harder to understand. Although science has never been more successful at revealing the contours of the world – where we came from, what kind of creature we are, which forces govern the objects around us – the difficulty of processing new information continues to grow. Science is not the accumulation of indisputable facts, but a panoply of interwoven theories, each with different degrees of support, and each revealing a slightly different aspect of reality. Apart from ideas intended to explain where we came from and what we are like, people seek teleological answers to their questions. They want to know why, in some deep sense, they are alive at all – why they should get up and go to work, get married (or not), have children (or not). They want to know who they should associate with, and what principles they should stand for. In the struggle to unify disparate facts and values, and to answer questions concerning how we should live, it helps to have a theory of everything. Traditionally, …

Who We Are

CLAIRE LEHMANN – Editor-in-Chief I founded Quillette in 2015, after dropping out of a masters program in forensic psychology. Prior to embarking on my post-graduate studies, I had worked in the non-profit and government sectors in Australia’s capital city, Canberra. My ambition as a teenager was to become an English professor, but I found literary theory as it was taught at university to be unimpressive. However as an undergraduate student of psychology, I found the study of adaptationism, intelligence, personality and individual differences particularly exciting and revolutionary. A large part of my motivation for founding Quillette came from a desire to combine these two different sets of interests (the arts and sciences). Today I live in Sydney with my husband and two children. RECENT ARTICLE: At Australian Ballot Boxes, the Left’s Empathy Deficit Came Home to Roost TERRY NEWMAN – Contributing Writer I graduated summa cum laude with a BA in Honours Sociology at Concordia University in Montreal. Since then, I have been a marker and teaching assistant at Concordia’s Centre for Engineering in Society. …

The Twilight of Liberalism?

The place and the object gave ample scope for moralizing on the vicissitudes of fortune, which spares neither man nor the proudest of his works, which buries empires and cities in a common grave; and it was agreed, that in proportion to her former greatness, the fall of Rome was the more awful and deplorable. ~Edward Gibbon Is liberalism dying? Thirty years ago, those words would have provoked hearty laughter. Its chief ideological competitor, communism, had just collapsed, leaving it without serious rival. Some optimistic thinkers asserted that we had reached an ideological “end of history” and that, having triumphed over all viable alternatives, liberalism would govern “the material world for the long run.” Today, however, few are so optimistic. The rise of populism, of Trump, of opiate epidemics, of bitter polarization, and of yawning economic inequality have tempered the triumphalism of those who once celebrated the inevitable victory of markets and democracy. The good news is that this growing pessimism has compelled reflection and reanalysis; the bad news is that plausible solutions remain out of …

In Defense of Scientism

I hear the jury’s still out on science. ~Gob Bluth In science, the jury is always out. This is because science is a methodological approach to the world, not a set of inflexible principles or a catalog of indisputable facts. Truth is always provisional. Science does not hold something to be incontrovertibly true. It says, “This appears to be true according to the best available theory and evidence.” On science, the jury long ago returned a verdict: it is awesome. It has conquered deadly diseases and eradicated oppressive superstitions. It has increased human flourishing and extended life expectancies. It has put humans on the moon and many fathoms under the ocean’s surface. It has uncovered the forces that guide the crudest motions of matter and those that govern the most exquisite processes of life. In short, it has vastly improved human existence while dramatically increasing our knowledge of the universe. Despite all this, skeptical philosophers and pundits continue to forward arguments against scientific “arrogance”—or against what they see as science’s hubristic attempt to crowd out …

The Preachers of the Great Awokening

“Yea, on the contrary, Justice calls aloud for an infinite Punishment of their Sins.” Jonathan Edwards From the sun-blanched beaches of California to the snow-covered cities of New England, a religious fervor is sweeping the United States. PhD-toting preachers spread the faith with righteous zeal, denouncing those who violate its sacred principles. Sinners are threatened not by an angry god, but by a righteous mob. The impenitent among them are condemned to be outcasts, while the contrite, if they properly mortify themselves and pledge everlasting fealty to the faith, can secure enough lost status to rejoin society, perhaps forever marked by a scarlet epithet. Racist. Sexist. Ableist. This is the religion of Wokeness, and this is the era of the Great Awokening. In the following article, we will explore this quasi-religion, Wokeness, as a status system that functions predominantly to distinguish white elites from the white masses (whom we will call hoi polloi). It does this by offering a rich signalling vocabulary for traits and possessions such as education, intelligence, openness, leisure, wealth, and cosmopolitanism, all …

Progressivism and the West

The biggest threat to Western civilization is posed not by other civilizations, but by our own pusillanimity—and by the historical ignorance that feeds it. ~Niall Ferguson I was wrong. For a long time, I considered the loose collection of ideas and assumptions I will call “progressivism” to be a regrettable but mostly tolerable side effect of affluence. This quasi-ideology—espoused by prominent progressives from the academy and Vox to Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren—holds that, inter alia: (1) All demographic groups are roughly equal on all socially valued traits; (2) racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry are ubiquitous; (3) almost all demographic disparities are caused by unfair discrimination; (4) diversity is an unalloyed good; and (5) there are many bigots who stand in the way of social progress, but eventually history will redeem the noble and we will inhabit a just society. Wealth frees a person from immediate survival concerns and therefore increases the importance of symbolic identities. And this, coupled with youth’s natural affinity for rebellion, almost inevitably leads to at least a passing phase …

A Tale of Two Bell Curves

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie, deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth, persistent, persuasive and unrealistic” ~ John F. Kennedy 1962 To paraphrase Mark Twain, an infamous book is one that people castigate but do not read. Perhaps no modern work better fits this description than The Bell Curve by political scientist Charles Murray and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein. Published in 1994, the book is a sprawling (872 pages) but surprisingly entertaining analysis of the increasing importance of cognitive ability in the United States. It also included two chapters that addressed well-known racial differences in IQ scores (chapters 13-14). After a few cautious and thoughtful reviews, the book was excoriated by academics and popular science writers alike. A kind of grotesque mythology grew around it. It was depicted as a tome of racial antipathy; a thinly veiled expression of its authors’ bigotry; an epic scientific fraud, full of slipshod scholarship and outright lies. As hostile reviews piled up, the real Bell Curve, a sober and judiciously argued …