Politics properly applies to science

Politics applies to all organizations (societies, churches, and so on). It is not that one realm is political (what we typically refer to as ‘politics’), and then other areas become politicized. Rather, politics is part-and-parcel of inter-personal human activity.

Therefore, politics is part of the scientific process whenever it becomes inter-personal.

What distinguishes political systems? In one important sense, it is the electorate. My guess is that the defining feature of a polity isn’t the generally-agreed-upon rules by which things are done (although these are important), but rather the character of those within the polity.

In science, the electorate ought to be prioritizing truth, as real science is simply doing one’s best to figure out what the truth is. (While in typical politics, it is the long-term well-being of society that ought to be the principal goal.)

Anyone arguing for this or that view within science has to factor in, anticipate, and take measures to account for, the political aspect. This is not something antithetical to science – rather, it is part of any inter-personal project.

(That is not to say the political aspect can’t be more or less conducive to real science!)

It behooves any scientist to study, understand, and gain practical know-how in this field. Certainly, to understand it better than those for whom truth is a secondary goal. To become a scientist of politics, in addition to a politician, campaign strategist, and so on – as much as this may not suite certain people’s strengths.

Of course, given the proper goal of science, it is entirely appropriate to take issue with people who are not primarily interested in the truth within the scientific enterprise. Due to the increase in careerism, grants, bureaucracy, and so on, they abound – more so than a hundred or two hundred years ago – and it makes the scientific enterprise more difficult. Regardless, if one cares about the truth, then one must account for these and the political processes one finds oneself in.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *