Monday, March 9, 2009

Ideology and Science

President Obama today announced his lifting of the ban on stem cell research imposed by the Bush administration. During the announcement he said that ideology had been allowed to win out over science and that he was fixing that by letting the science guide decisions instead of ideology. This is nonsense. Now, I am not here arguing one way or the other about whether or not the ban should be in place. Rather, I want to point something out: namely, that science cannot say anything. People say things. When Obama says he doesn't think that ideology should guide policy, what he means to say is that the wrong ideology should not guide policy. For example, it would undoubtedly help further scientific research to begin experiments on human beings. Perhaps we could use prisoners, or the homeless. We could make great advances by inflicting them with certain ailments and diseases and then carefully monitoring and studying them (indeed, this happened not too long ago, with doctors inflicting STD's on African-Americans). "Science" cannot tell us not to do this. Only ideology (in the form of moral principles) can tell us not to do this. Therefore Obama's claim to be liberating science from ideology is nonsense; what he really means is that his ideology is the better one.

No comments: