Dagens ord

Ansvar väger tyngre än frihet - Responsibility trumps liberty

15 okt. 2019

Liberal Democracy and Epistemic Neutrality

Utdrag ur:

Klemens Kappel, Liberal Democracy and Epistemic Neutrality (first draft)

”...liberal democracy does not require neutrality with respect to conceptions of justice. In just the same way, one might suggest, does liberal democracy not require epistemic neutrality. To expand Kymlicka’s terminology, neutrality is only required between conceptions of the good which are both justice-respecting and fact-respecting. The general idea would be that the state (and societal culture, to some extent) is obliged to remain neutral between different conceptions of the good, or sets of individual values, but not between different different conceptions of what the facts are. [...]

Suppose that the state adopts certain policies based on controversial views of the facts. For example, suppose the state refuses to fund alternative medicine in public health care because of the lack of evidence for efficacy, or refuses to include intelligent design in school curricula on the ground that intelligent design lack[s] proper scientific basis, or launches an educational initative to convice the population that political action is needed in response to climate change, [...] thereby implying that climate deniers lack proper scientific grounding. Individuals who disagree with these decisions, but are nonetheless forced to comply with them in the relevant sense, have no ground for complaint, then, because the requirement of value neutrality does not extend that far. Those who firmly believe in the efficacy of alternative medicine, for example, do not have a just complaint that it is not available in a publicly funded health care system. Or put it differently: people have a right to hold and act upon the belief that alternative medicine is highly effective, of course, but they must themselves bear the cost of these beliefs, and they have no ground for complaint if public policy is based on incompatible factual beliefs.

Now, I have merely indicated how one might in principle respond to the fact that certain factual beliefs may play a role for individual autonomy similar to that of individual values. I haven’t argued that liberal democracy should adopt epistemically non-neutral attitudes (though I believe that it should). I have merely indicated how epistemic non-neutrality is a possibility within the general framework. Moreover, I haven’t argued that the liberal state should side with best science, when [it] adopts policies in areas of factual controversies, and commits itself to non-neutral stances on these controversies (though this is also what I think the state should). In fact, it is useful to have a general term for this particular very familiar non-neutral attitude, so let me simply refer to it as scientific non-neutrality.”

s. 23-24

”...we need not view liberal democracy as wedded to any general principles of epistemic neutrality, beyond what is required by our basic cognitive freedoms. This means that contrary to what is asserted by many commentators, there is [no] inherent conflict between democracy and the inherent non-neutrality of science. Hence, Seife and others are wrong to think that science and democracy is necessarily at odds. Liberal democracy can adopt the inherent non-neutrality of science. This is not yet to hold that liberal democracy ought to embrace scientific non-neutrality. I haven’t argued that any particular epistemically non-neutral stance adopted by the state or by societal culture is justified, or how one should state a satisfactory defense of a non-neutral policy, though I do think we should endorse what I called scientific non-neutrality. I have indicated that even if the best arguments for scientific non-neutrality are epistemically circular, [that] does not prevent us from rationally endorsing scientific non-neutrality.”

s. 26


Klemens Kappel, Liberal Democracy and Epistemic Neutrality (first draft)