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Rationality, Economics and Violence: A Social and Environmental Philosophy by Kenneth Wilson

The previous chapter discussed aspects of scientific rationality. This chapter continues the theme of rationality by discussing its economic form. The main concern is that the concept of rationality involved in laissez-faire capitalism turns out to be less than rational. Let me give an example of how economic “rationality” can be found wanting. This example relies on an interpretation of the Prisoner’s Dilemma. As Joel E. Cohen notes,

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Rationality and Science: A Social and Environmental Philosophy by Kenneth Wilson

This chapter concerns itself with rationality in its scientific guise. Typically science is often taken to be the paradigm instance of rationality in the modern period. In addition to science being a key representative of reason, it has also become separated from religion, the historical locus of thought about values and ethics.

My concern in this chapter lies in two areas. The first of these lies in the distinction between fact and value, science and ethics, and the second, with the notion that science is ethically neutral. In the discussion of these issues I aim to show that there are confusions and inconsistencies involved which force one to reconsider the status of science and the sense in which it is rational. Indeed I am at pains to counter a tendency which sees scientific facts as somehow determining what our values ought to be, when in actuality scientific facts provide no such solutions. Read more