POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Value Pluralism, Iron Cage

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The double foundation of contemporary life on science and liberty
Two main authorities in contemporary society are science and liberty
Augere (increase or augment) and auctor (author/founder)
Authority: foundational but also need to be increased or augmented
Science holds authority in the theoretical domain and liberty in the practical one
Pierre Manent calls the active principle, principle that governs the work of the type of
authority
Active principle that governs science is the need to understand the world as it is, and not the
world as it should be or ought to be
Active principle contained in liberty is that humans are the sovereign authors of the world
o We don’t let the gods or ancestors decide
Science and liberty enters into conflict when they appear in the social world
Sometimes science is stronger than liberty, other times liberty is stronger
In the instances when liberty is stronger than science, science cannot determine for us the
content of the good, there is no science of the good, there is only debate, discussion
There is no science of the good to rationally determine what is good for us in society
The authority of liberty triumphs the authority of science
Problem: science and liberty in conflict
o As citizens of western democracy, we cherish both science and liberty
How can we deal with this conflict?
In order to deal with this conflict, Weber develop the doctrine of the fact value distinction
Weber will compel us to rigorously distinguish between scientific facts using scientific
method and values (objects of personal choice)
This distinction will have important practical consequences in our world
Separation between the social world, science will dominate; and private realm, within which
individuals will choose their values and beliefs, which will enter into conflict between values
and beliefs chosen by one and another
Separation between the social world and the private world means that values and beliefs
must be evacuated from the social realm
Values and beliefs must exist the world we hold in common because they are private
matters not public matters
Weber will equate value pluralism to a world of gods
o Each value that we choose commands belief and states a belief, dictates behaviour
o Must like belief in a particular god would do
In this context, science and reason are understood as being value neutral
Science and reason are value neutral because they are ways and methods that allow us to
understand things, but they do not indicate to us how we should live
This implies that science and reason should govern the social world
When science and reason actually do govern the social world, Weber calls this process
rationalization
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Rationalization is the main characteristic of modern society
We can define rationalization as the process through which spirituality, tradition and moral
values are replaced by rational calculation, efficiency, and control
When the process of rationalization occurs, this leads to what Weber will call the
disenchantment of the world
All the elements of enchanted world such as god are evacuated by rationalization
If you don’t want a world of religion, separate religion into the private realm
The idea of disenchanted world will compel Weber to state, the only way to get away from a
war of gods is lock ourselves up in an iron cage (iron, cold and reason)
Disenchantment: it’s almost impossible to go back
We can say that under the effects of rationalization, our world becomes human all too
human (Nietzsche)
A world that avoid enchantment is a world of only human
Science is compatible with the autonomy project
Disenchantment of the world is a statement that allows religious beliefs not atheist.
Fact/Value Distinction: call into question a fundamental characteristic of contemporary life:
our society is founded on separations and division
We think our societies are founded on unity
The fact value distinction is translated into the practical by distinction of the social and
private realm. Distinction that governs contemporary life.
The separation between life and science. Science will govern the public domain and will say
nothing about how we should live our lives. Life will consist of individuals capable of
choosing their own values, their own god. The choice of gods or choice of values will not
necessarily be based on reason.
Reason will be the domain of science and inevitably enter into conflicts with values of
individuals
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