2017年12月10日 23:07

十八世紀哲學家創造了現代世界



你是疫苗的懷疑論者?還是疫苗懷疑論者的懷疑者?你的答案多半會來自政治意識而非科學的根據。


當討論到疫苗,科學陪審團會進來,就像氣候變化與進化。疫苗有用,氣候變遷是真的,進化發生過。但盡管在這三方有懷疑,也是來自政治的產物,懷疑科學,就是在反對美國政治結構的最核心基礎,為何這樣說呢?





美國開國原則奠基於18世紀啟蒙思想家,而思想家的智慧又受惠於17世紀的科學家,如伽俐略、和牛頓等。

(這是個爭論點,寫在我的新書『道德論:科學與邏輯如何帶領人類走向真理、正義與自由』).



這些啟蒙大師所用的科學實驗法與分析理論,用來解決社會、政治與經濟的問題,產生了現代世界文明,解放的民主自由、人權、人類自由、平等正義、自由的心、自由的市場、與繁榮的社會等等,在在都是古時候人類社會從未享受過的...



美國開國元老常指出美國實驗,把政治當成實驗。因為民主選舉是科學實驗的同義詞:每幾年你以選舉仔細地翻轉一些變數,觀察結果。如果你希望不同的結果,改變那個變數。民主系統化地取代獨裁的部份理由是因為科學,科學賦予個體力量。個體學會以方法解決問題,而不是屈服於意識狀態。



很多開國元老,其實就是科學家,他們仔細收集資料,做假設,實驗,然後形成理論,造就一個國家。人們知道沒有人曉得怎麼治理一個複雜的國家,所以他們建立一個系統,能回應未知的環境做經常性的調整。他們把政府這樣的機制,當成是一種社會科技用來解決問題,而非一個至高機構以取得權力。他們對民主的概念,是類比到對科學的見解。



Thomas Jefferson在1804年所強調的:『沒有實驗比我們現在在嘗試的更有趣,最終我們會建立一個事實基礎,人民是以真理實相去管理。』



想想獨立宣言的條文,我們往往把這篇偉大的宣言當成政治哲學的陳述。但是,他實際上是一種科學的論證。

想想這句最有的話:『我們擁有這些真理自明,人是生而平等的。』



這句在Thomas Jefferson最早起草的底稿是:『我們擁有這些真理,神聖不可棄絕。』



為何他改變了?他沒有。是班傑明富蘭克林修改的。一個美國生活,揭露了一個科學基礎。



『(真理)自明』這個想法,較多是來自崇尚科學決定論的牛頓,以及注重分析論的富蘭克林之好友大衛,進一步演變形成一個理論。



能分辨何者是『合成真理』(如實形容事實,比方:倫敦比費城大),

何者是『分析真理』(借由理性與定義,道理不說自明。比方:三角形三個角合起來是180度; 或所有單身漢是未婚的).



借由使用這個字『神聖』,傑佛遜確認,刻意或無意,人類的平等是天賦權利,是一種宗教上的斷言,他的編輯把它轉成沒什麼合理性。堅守科學是值得的,當人們擁抱啟蒙世界觀,道德與價值必需被根植在理由與科學。不能只是因為信仰,道德或生活方式的優異度。啟蒙運動後,為你的信仰與價值給個理由是很必要的。而這些理由必需經由理性的辯證過程,與證據提供。否則是可被忽略或拒絕的。





而那些不喜歡論證,不喜歡對談,不相信理由原因,實行假科學的。像革命法國,納粹德國,史達林俄羅斯,毛主席中國,以及更最近的基本教義伊斯蘭國。歷史上都傾向停滯,倒退甚至崩潰。



科學與理性的<有神論跟後現代論>,經常貼標籤給災難俄羅斯與納粹烏托邦稱,他為為所謂的"科學"。但他們的科學,是厚厚的反啟蒙,上面蓋一層薄薄的銅綠鏽,種族意識的幻想天堂根植在種族與地域。



『人生而平等』這想法是啟蒙運動的產物,就像言論自由,或在公開對談中要學會使用理由。這會迫使我們去思考別人觀點有何長處?如果對方有理,他們有理的部份會擠掉我們原先的偏見。但單單理由(或許)無法讓我們心服口服,需要立法,法律,建立人民權利的行使。



建立在法律的遊戲規則是『以理為主』的,立法的支撐是理性的辯證。沒有這些,在道德上沒有長久的維持性。因為這關乎『力量變成對』的事,要讓道德穩住你需要改變人們的想法。這是古典自由世界觀根基在邏輯與科學,帶來道德的過程,即使當政治站在路中。





Are you a vaccination skeptic? Or are you skeptical of the vaccination skeptics? Your answer will most likely depend less on science and more on political ideology. The science jury is in when it comes to vaccinations, as it is for climate change and evolution. Vaccinations work, climate change is real and evolution happened. But, though skepticism in all three cases tends to be the product of politics, to doubt science is to run up against the very heart of America’s political framework.



The founding principles of America were the product of 18th century Enlightenment thinkers who were inspired by 17th century scientists such as Galileo and Newton. (This is an argument I make in my new book, The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom.) The experimental methods and analytical reasoning of science that these Enlightenment thinkers consciously applied to solve social, political and economic problems created the modern world of liberal democracies, civil rights and civil liberties, equal justice under the law, free minds and free markets, and prosperity the likes of which no human society in history has ever enjoyed.



The founding fathers of the United States often referred to the “American experiment” and to democracy as an “experiment” because democratic elections are analogous to scientific experiments: every couple of years you carefully alter the variables with an election and observe the results. If you want different results, change the variables. Part of the reason that democracies systematically replaced autocracies was because of the scientific appeal of empowering individuals with a methodology to solve problems instead of an ideology to obey.



Many of the Founding Fathers were, in fact, scientists who deliberately adapted the method of data gathering, hypothesis testing and theory formation to the construction of a nation. They understood that no one knows how to govern a nation in all it’s complexities, and so they constructed a system that would allow constant tinkering to adjust for unforeseen circumstances. Instead of thinking about government as a place where power is up for the taking, they saw it as a social technology for solving problems. Their conception of democracy was not dissimilar to their vision of science, as Thomas Jefferson articulated it in 1804: “No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth.”







Consider the principles underlying the Declaration of Independence. We usually think of this great document as a statement of political philosophy, but it was, in fact, a type of scientific argument. Consider this sentence, one of the most famous in all political philosophy: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal….” In Thomas Jefferson’s first draft he penned “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable.” Why did he change it? He didn’t. Benjamin Franklin did. Here is what happened, as described by Walter Isaacson in his biography Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, in a passage that reveals the scientific foundation of one of the greatest political tracts ever published:



The idea of “self-evident” truths was one that drew less on John Locke, who was Jefferson’s favored philosopher, than on the scientific determinism espoused by Isaac Newton and on the analytic empiricism of Franklin’s close friend David Hume. In what became known as “Hume’s fork,” the great Scottish philosopher, along with Leibniz and others, had developed a theory that distinguished between synthetic truths that describe matters of fact (such as “London is bigger than Philadelphia”) and analytic truths that are self-evident by virtue of reason and definition (“The angles of a triangle equal 180 degrees”; “All bachelors are unmarried.”) By using the word “sacred,” Jefferson had asserted, intentionally or not, that the principle in question—the equality of men and their endowment by their creator with inalienable rights—was an assertion of religion. Franklin’s edit turned it instead into an assertion of rationality.



Sticking with science paid off. Where people embraced the Enlightenment worldview that morals and values must be grounded in reason and science, it was no longer acceptable to merely assert that your beliefs, morals and ways of life are better than others. After the Enlightenment it was necessary to provide reasons for your beliefs and values, and those reasons had better be grounded in rational arguments and empirical evidence or else they could be ignored or rejected.



By contrast, countries that quash free inquiry, distrust reason and practice pseudoscience, such as Revolutionary France, Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, Maoist China and, more recently, fundamentalist Islamist states, have historically tended to stagnate, regress and often collapse. Theists and post-modernist critics of science and reason often label the disastrous Soviet and Nazi utopias as “scientific,” but their science was a thin patina covering a deep layer of counter-Enlightenment, pastoral, paradisiacal fantasies of racial ideology grounded in ethnicity and geography.



This idea of equal rights for individuals is the product of the Enlightenment, as is the principle of free speech and the use of reason in an open dialogue that forces us to consider the merit of what the other person is saying. And if the other person makes sense, their superior ideas gradually chip away at our prejudices. Reason alone may not get us there. We need legislation and laws to enforce civil rights. But these institutions are premised on law being grounded in reason, and the legislation being backed by rational arguments. Without that, there is no long-term sustainability to moral progress, as it is just a matter of might makes right. To make morals stick you have to change people’s thinking. And more than any other it is the Classical Liberal worldview grounded in reason and science that is bringing about moral progress—even when politics get in the way.



Michael Shermer is the Publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, the host of the Skeptics Distinguished Science Lecture Series at Caltech, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. His latest book is The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom (Henry Holt, 2015).

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