Friday, November 21, 2014

Eric Schliesser — The Technocratic Conception of Politics (The Economists and Rawls redux)

By a 'technocratic conception of politics,' (recall) I mean to capture the following three features of an enduringimage of politics present in (social) science:

first, it is characterized by the ideal that with social knowledge and its progress, substantial political disagreement can be eliminated.…
…second, this ideal of conflict-free politics presupposes … considerable value-unanimity in society.… 
Third, the conception requires an image of science in which one of the central aims of policy scientists is to achieve consensus (or lack of disagreement).
In short, this is the assumption of the possibility of achieving a universally true conceptual model free of the cognitive-volitional-affective-sensory biases of ideology. This assumption is based on a level of symmetry that evidence does not support.

The assumption of universalizability of knowledge is grounded in an assumption of methodological individualism, namely, that human individuals are "atomic" in the sense of "rational" human behavior being capable of being modeled in terms of a representative agent. What this type of thinking leads to is generalization from introspection on the part of theorists, assuming lack of bias even admitting bounded rationality: Rational individuals will come to the same conclusion based on the same information. This assumes away ideological bias, as well as the logical problems associated with criteria being foundational to the construction of different world views and ideologies.

There's also a link to download Kenneth Boulding's Economics as a Moral Science.

Eric Schliesser | BOF Research Professor in Philosophy and Moral Sciences, Sarton Centre for History of Science, Ghent University, Belgium

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