University of Cambridge > > CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar > Realism and technocracy: a working hypothesis

Realism and technocracy: a working hypothesis

Add to your list(s) Download to your calendar using vCal

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Jacob Stegenga.

The victory of realism over idealism at the start of the twentieth century, and of scientific realism over logical empiricism and pragmatism in the mid twentieth century, is a striking phenomenon that calls for historical explanation. In this talk I propose an externalist account, looking at the social and political reasons why realism became attractive to philosophers active in the USA , rather than considering the internal factors – the merits of the arguments in favour of realism. Firstly, I will look at the agenda of Roy Wood Sellars’ critical realism which was not narrowly theoretical, but very much related to his concerns for the development of American society post WW1 , as expressed in The Next Steps in Democracy (1916) and Next Steps in Religion (1918). In the second part of the talk, I discuss the significance of technocracy in America, post WW2 – not only the increasing influence of scientists and engineers in government, but also the diffusion of the view that social issues are best addressed by scientific, technical means. Counter-cultural critics of technocracy, such as Theodore Roszak (1969) claimed that a ‘scientific world-view’ provided an ‘ideology’ for this system of governance. We will see that R.W. Sellars and his son Wilfrid Sellars, himself a key proponent of scientific realism, were explicitly involved in the task of building a scientific world-view, but with political goals that were probably not realised by the post-war establishment.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

Tell a friend about this talk:

This talk is included in these lists:

Note that ex-directory lists are not shown.


© 2006-2024, University of Cambridge. Contact Us | Help and Documentation | Privacy and Publicity