Tag Archives: politics

Bertrand Russell

It is surprising and somewhat disappointing that movements aiming at the prevention of nuclear war are regarded throughout the West as Left-Wing movements or as inspired by some -ism which is repugnant to a majority of ordinary people. It is not in this way that opposition to nuclear warfare should be conceived. It should be conceived rather on the analogy of sanitary measures against epidemic.

Bertrand Russell, Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare, London, 1959, introduction

Michael Huemer

Some clustering of logically unrelated beliefs could be explained cognitively—for instance, by the hypothesis that some people tend to be good, in general, at getting to the truth (perhaps because they are intelligent, knowledgeable, etc.) So suppose that it is true both that affirmative action is just and that abortion is morally permissible. These issues are logically unrelated to each other; however, if some people are in general good at getting to the truth, then those who believe one of these propositions would be more likely to believe the other.

But note that, on this hypothesis, we would not expect the existence of an opposite cluster of beliefs. That is, suppose that liberal beliefs are, in general, true, and that this explains why there are many people who generally embrace this cluster of beliefs. (Thus, affirmative action is just, abortion is permissible, welfare programs are good, capital punishment is bad, human beings are seriously damaging the environment, etc.) Why would there be a significant number of people who tend to embrace the opposite beliefs on all these issues? It is not plausible to suppose that there are some people who are in general drawn toward falsity. Even if there are people who are not very good at getting to the truth (perhaps they are stupid, ignorant, etc.), their beliefs should be, at worst, unrelated to the truth; they should not be systematically directed away from the truth. Thus, while there could be a ‘true cluster’ of political beliefs, the present consideration strongly suggests that neither the liberal nor the conservative belief-cluster is it.

Michael Huemer, ‘Why People Are Irrational about Politics’, in Jonathan Anomaly, Geoffrey Brennan, Michael Munger & Geoffrey Sayre-McCord (eds.), Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An Anthology, Oxford, 2016, p. 458

C. D. Broad

Another apparent paradox in McTaggart’s opinions was that he was as strongly ‘liberal’ in university politics as he was ‘conservative’ in national politics. He was, e.g. a strong feminist in the matter of the admission of women to full membership of the university. This paradox, however, depends largely on the usage of words. There is no essential connexion between liberalism and the view that men and women should be educated together, or between conservatism and the view that they shoud be educated separately. Nor is there any essential connexion between liberalism and the view that the colleges should be subordinated to the university, or between conservatism and the view that the university should be subordinated to the colleges. Yet those who hold the first alternative on these two subjects are called ‘academic liberals’, whilst those who hold the second are called ‘academic coonservatives’. There is thus no kind of inconsistency between academic liberalism and political conservatism, or between academic conservatism and political liberalism. If there were more men like McTaggart, who considered each question on its merits instead of dressing himself in a complete suit of ready-made opinions, such combinations would be more frequent than they are, to the great benefit of both academic and national politics.

C. D. Broad, ‘John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart, 1866-1925’, Proceedings of the British Academy, vol. 13 (1927), pp. 307-334

C. D. Broad

In the controversies of party politics, which move at the intellectual level of a preparatory school, it is counted a score against a man if he can be shown ever to have altered his mind on extremely difficult questions in a rapidly changing world. In the less puerile realm of science and philosophy it is not considered disgraceful to learn as well as to live, and this kind of stone has no weight and is not worth throwing.

C. D. Broad, Examination of McTaggart’s Philosophy, Cambridge, 1938, vol. 2, p. lxxiii

Arthur Jensen

I have only contempt for people who let their politics or religion influence their science. And I rather dread the approval of people who agree with me only for political reasons. People sometimes ask me how I have withstood the opposition and vilification and demonstrations over the years. That hasn’t worried me half as much as the thought that there may be people out there who agree with some of my findings and views for entirely the wrong reasons[.]

Arthur Jensen, in Frank Miele, Intelligence, Race, and Genetics: Conversations with Arthur R. Jensen, Boulder, Colorado, 2002, p. 35

Ted Honderich

It most certainly does not follow that to be persona non grata to some people on both sides of a conflict shows you are in the right. That is weak stuff. You need not go far to find counter-examples to the idea. You can, on occasions, infuriate both sides and be wrong. Still, to have some of both sides against you does establish something that is anathema to some on both those sides, which is independence of mind.

Ted Honderich, ‘On Being Persona Non Grata’, CounterPunch, February 19/20, 2005

Bertrand Russell

If politics is to become scientific, and if the event is not to be constantly surprising, it is imperative that our political thinking should penetrate more deeply into the springs of human action. What is the influence of hunger upon slogans? How does their effectiveness fluctuate with the number of calories in your diet? If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote?

Bertrand Russell, ‘Nobel Lecture’, December 11, 1950