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IAH Class Notes - Condorcet Matt Ferkany IAH 206 Why study...

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Condorcet Matt Ferkany IAH 206
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Why study self, society, technology?  Intrinsic interest: each topic raises questions  worth studying for their own sake Welfare: Presumably technology affects our  quality of life, individually and collectively. How  exactly? Always for the better? What’s the  relationship between technology and  progress?
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Technology and progress Techno-optimists:  Tend to believe that technology is not responsible for social  problems, but an important means to their solution.  Technology integral to progress.  Techno-pessimists:  Tend to emphasize the risks and costs of technological change;  believe technology is responsible for many social problems;  skeptical of “technological fixes” to social problems.  Technology unimportant to progress. 
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What do we believe? Is our quality of life  always  improved by technology?  Are there no technologies we would be better off never  having invented? Are any technologies responsible for any social  problems? Are there any social problems that cannot be fixed  technologically?
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About subjectivism in ethics Subjectivism: the view that there is no right/wrong or better/worse  answer to questions about values; any answer is  “just your own  opinion” Common argument for subjectivism (the  argument from  disagreement ):  Premise: There is widespread, intractable disagreement about  ethics Conclusion: There is no truth about right, wrong Are all questions about technology and progress merely subjective? 
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What’s wrong with subjectivism Some claims are  obviously  not “just your opinion,” e.g. shooting up  the Post Office is wrong. The argument from disagreement is INVALID, the conclusion does  not follow from the premise—there is intractable disagreement  about God’s existence, yet whether God exists is not “just your  opinion,” there is a truth. 
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Condorcet—Techno-optimist?  French mathematician, 1743-1794 Most famous for identifying a  paradox of democratic voting and  inventing voting procedures Early advocate of equal rights for  women and all races, free and  equal public education
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A note about Condorcet’s era 18 th  Century Enlightenment So called because science and rational inquiry  displace tradition and religious faith in government  and ordinary life Newtonian physics Secular and Republican government (representative  govt., requiring consent of the governed)
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Condorcet—Techno-optimist?
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