Einstein on science & morality

 
axenicely
 
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axenicely
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Joined  02-02-2011
 
 
 
02 February 2011 14:34
 

I’d bet this quote has already been posted here (I searched briefly), and I’d bet more that Sam has encountered it before, but I just wanted to be sure on both counts:

Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.
Albert Einstein, Why Socialism?
http://monthlyreview.org/598einstein.php

Doesn’t prove anything of course, but Einstein must certainly qualify as an expert on the method, and therefore, the scope, of science. His opinion is worth considering.

[ Edited: 04 February 2011 16:46 by axenicely]
 
 
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axenicely
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04 February 2011 15:30
 

I don’t know why I ended the quote where I did.  It continues:

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

[ Edited: 04 February 2011 16:47 by axenicely]
 
 
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TGBaker
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08 February 2011 11:29
 
axenicely - 04 February 2011 08:30 PM

I don’t know why I ended the quote where I did.  It continues:

For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.

Of course Einstein was wrong about quantum physics as well.

 
Determined
 
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Determined
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24 February 2011 10:29
 

Science cannot instill ends? If you are, at first, simply trying to buy and collect as much as you can, when suddenly you read some Positive Psychology that suggests you might try and establish more social ties - is that not changing one’s goals/ends/values? If we say the base or primary value is unchanged (happiness) then isn’t that base value the same in everyone anyway?

As far as experts…we listen to experts because they are likely to embody the scientific method. But the method certainly doesn’t assume that only experts can spot a bad inference, make an interesting suggestion, etc.