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Can there be an objective, scientific analysis of political science?

Much of political science is elusive and subjective. People tend to feel that their position on an issue is 'right' while the opposing side is 'wrong.' Much of one's perspectives, however, result from flawed analysis such as pre-conceived biases, i.e. a wealthy white male will statistically be less inclined to agree with affirmative action than an African American, or a school teacher will more likely support a budget increase for teachers at the expense of say, public park restoration, the latter of which has a less direct affect on their personal well-being.

These issues stem ultimately from values, and as Sam Harris posits, we can derive values scientifically. Can we objectively analyze Jonathan Haidt's "moral roots' and use sound scientific reasoning as to what our values 'should' be, as well as the ends to strive for?

Is it possible to attain a zen-like transcendence of biases, self-interest, and analysis to espouse a system that is truly and objectively "better?"

As a second aspect to this question: Technology has progressively provided us with more and more tools, which render many activities hitherto dependent on humans obsolete. While this progression begins with brunt physical work, it is now evolving to take over more intellectual work, with no sign of this progress slowing.

While we have calculators to do our math, and tractors to move the earth, we still need human involvement for politicians, philosophers, and lawyers.

Do you see it as possible that these too in time will become obsolete as technology, with great artificial intelligence, can do the aforementioned 'perfect analysis' of values and law to create an objectively superior social system?


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  • Oct 4 2011: I think ot entirely pssible to develop accurate assessments of the effectivenessof a particular strategy to reach a particular goal given a particular set of circumstances, but as others have said here I think it unlikely that an objective analysis of the 'goodness' or evil of those goals can exist for the simple reason that humans like many dofferent things.

    I am sceptical of Sam Harris' "human flourishing" for the simple reason that those terms themselves are subjective to some extent: all humans?---and if not, who are the ones who count, and why do we think so?...and what kind of 'flourishing'?---there are some religions that at least historically have held that the ideal human condition is a community of celibate believers living in poverty that matters not because of the richness of the mental life filled to repletion by their continual and uniform worship of a notional god. Harris' 'flourishing' reminds me of Nietzsche's 'health' and all of Rand's desiderata: private tastes elevated to the level of objective truths. Sorry, my standards are those of physics, which is more powerful than any of these because it has the power to be wrong.

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