Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Science and the open society

Fang Lizhi was good at explaining how, for him, concepts of human rights grew out of science, writes Perry Link. In an essay in [the NYRB] he named five axioms of science that had led him toward human rights:
1. “Science begins with doubt,” whereas in Mao’s China students were taught to begin with fixed beliefs.
2. Science stresses independence of judgment, not conformity to the judgment of others.
3. “Science is egalitarian”; no one’s subjective view starts ahead of anyone else’s in the pursuit of objective truth.
4. Science needs a free flow of information, and cannot thrive in a system that restricts access to information.
5. Scientific truths, like human rights principles, are universal; they do not change when one crosses a political border.

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