19 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

GREG ELLIS – Voice of Quillette Narrated Greg Ellis is a published author, accomplished director, Annie Award-nominated voice actor and Emmy Award®-nominated actor (ensemble) with an international career that spans stage, screen, television, voice-over and the recording arts. His film credits include Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 3 & 4, Titanic, Star Trek, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Beowulf. His TV credits include 24, The X-Files, CSI, Dexter, NCIS, Hawaii Five-O, and many more. His voice over credits include blockbuster movies, classic cartoons, and over 100 video game titles. 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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

Superior: The Return of Race Science—A Review

A review of Superior: The Return of Race Science by Angela Saini, Beacon Press, 256 pages (May, 2019) The races differ also in constitution, in acclimatisation, and in liability to certain diseases. Their mental characteristics are likewise very distinct… ~Charles Darwin, 1871, The Descent of Man Angela Saini’s new book, Superior, is a cautionary tale about the historical legacy, and putative return, of what she calls “race science.” As far as we can determine, there are four main theses running through the book: ‘Race’ is not a meaningful biological category Genes can only contribute to population differences on certain “superficial” traits Studying whether genes might contribute to population differences on non-superficial traits is tantamount to “scientific racism” Almost everyone interested in whether genes might contribute to population differences on these other traits is a “scientific racist” To be blunt, we disagree with all four of Saini’s main theses, as we shall explain in this article. (Note that since the book is quite poorly structured, and in some places contradictory, it is not always easy to …