Monday, February 20, 2006

Obligatory Readings of the Day

FRANCIS FUKUYAMA - The Newest Marxist? by Publius on Legal Fiction:
If you want a more detailed background on idealism vs. materialism, you can read my post here. The gist of it is that idealists think that ideas can move and shape history, whereas materialists tend to see ideas as the byproduct (or superstructure) of material forces such as economic relationships and power imbalances.

Iraq provides an excellent example of how these schools of thought work. Because materialists see democracy as the byproduct of (relatively) evenly balanced and widespread wealth, the materialist would stress economic reforms as a necessary precondition of democracy promotion. The idealist, however, believes that introducing the idea of democracy is enough – or more specifically, that introducing the idea can produce the economic wealth. The actual invasion of Iraq (and the greater neocon vision for the Middle East) depends entirely on idealism in that it bets the house on imposing Western ideas top-down rather than helping them develop from the bottom-up.
Read the rest...

The Panglossian Paradigm, or as science moves forward, creationists move back by Josh Rosenau of Thought From Kansas:

The same spirit that moved Gould and Lewontin to decry this approach to the analysis of biological systems also moved people to crack down on "just-so stories," but to be clear about how a given hypothesis about a structure might be tested. The Index of Creationist Claims explains more. Creationists like to toss that word around now, but it was biologists who saw the problem and have fixed it.

Furthermore, modern creationism often takes on exactly this approach. The classic example is Privileged Planet, the book and movie which the Discovery Institute has been pushing as a case for Design in the Universe. The book is, so far as I've been able to determine, an extended Panglossian diatribe. Our moon is the best of all possible moons because its position is just-so. Our solar system, our planet, our galaxy, the galaxies around us, our atmosphere, our eyes, our mountains, our orbit, our sun, all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
Read the rest...

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