International

WHAT IS DEMOCRACY?
  • The answer in a nutshell

    • THAT IS DEMOCRACY,
      first submitted during the week of democracy in October 2007 on the website “Why Democracy” (whydemocracy.net). That site, as well as the others I have visited, are mainly concerned with the how, with procedures, rights etc. Yet procedures are only means, and rights will conflict. Unless we agree on what our objective is when choosing for democracy is, its institutions will reflect the currently most prominent ideologies, interests and problems, leading to pseudo-solution and filling one hole by digging another. Only such a shared objective can provide the unifying standard, the rallying cry, for effective decision-making

  • A solid theoretical foundation for democracy
    • A Book; The conceptual Foundation of Decision Making in a Democracy. (for detailed content see end of this introduction)           Available on internet on DBNL
      Democracy is a cooperative venture requiring adequate coordination of decision-making. Our impotence to provide guidance to countries in Africa and the east block in establishing democracy, our inability to take the decisions required to meet today’s challenges….Lees verder
    • Political Philosophy, Jean Hampton
      Her book is regarded as one of the best introduction to the current thinking about democracy. While she acknowledges the contribution of contract theory, she rejects it as a basis for government as a ‘make believe’. That is a widely shared error, and here is why …Lees verder
  • From theory to practice
    • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
      There can be no universal rights except in a democracy. But democracy is not a universal right; it is a human project and must be earned
      …Lees verder
    • The unfinished evolution of morals.
      Philosophers disagree about whether or not our morals are an evolutionary development of morals already present in our ancestral primates, and about  the relative goodness of our morals and theirs. My conclusion: While our morals inevitably have some roots in those of our ancestors, they contain a new dimension exclusive to humans; yet that says nothing about their goodness. Other primates have proven that their morals are adequate for their social life and preservation of their environment. Ours have proven to be miserably inadequate. That is what philosophy should worry about.
    • OTHER SUBJECTS
  • Recalibrating Economics (under construction)

  • Other philosophical topics

    • Determinism versus free will (*)
      As with all paradoxes, the one between determinism and free will disappears as soon as we investigate what we really ‘mean’ by the words we use, to what part of our reality they refer. Our will is free if it is not subjugated to the will of another creature, if a decision is directed by our own will. That concept is not opposed to determinism or predictability: will and determinism do not pertain to the same dimension.
    • (*) This is a chapter from the book  ”The Conceptual Foundations of Decision-making in a Democracy”, part Capita Selecta, page 377.
    • Towards a rational application of rational choice theory.
    • Rational choice theory is heavily contested in its application to theories dealing with human behavior, especially economics, and rightly so. The fault however does not lie with the assumption of rationality, but with poor definitions and neglect of relevant factors in its application.
    • Comments on a book: THE PHILOSOPHY of INFORMATION
    • A thick book that came to my attention through an interview of Sander Bias, editor and contributor to that book, in my paper, NRC. In that interview he said: “The concept of entropy has lead to a definition of the concept of information. Thus the second law (of thermodynamics) lays at the basis of informatics.” That raised my curiosity, as in my book (*) I reject entropy as an adequate definition of information. (In  his contribution to the book “The Physics of Information”, he made no such assertion). He also lamented the deep gulf between the sciences and humanities exposed by C.P. Snow half a century ago. His main complaint was that few scientists other than physicists had any knowledge of the second law of thermodynamics. As my book contains also contains an explanation of the gulf between academic disciplines, I will deal with it first. I will then present a summary of my conclusions about information based on today’s knowledge of molecular biology. In part 3a), I will apply these findings to Dretkes’ definition of information, and in 3b), I will make some remarks about three aspects of the physics of information, quantification of information, entropy and order.
  • The purpose of science.
    Science in Transition” is the site of a group of scientists who believe that science is in need of fundamental reform, “that it has become a self-referential system where quality is measured mostly in bibliometric parameters and where societal relevance is undervalued.” They identify a number of problems that impair the quality of today’s science, but find it difficult to define how to judge its quality. That is not surprising, because they look at the problem mainly from the producer’s point of view. The user’s point of view and the primary function of knowledge provide an answer: help in decision-making.              (For print version,klick here )
  • Science In Transition: from science 3,0 to science 3.5
    The bulk of SIT’s articles are written by university-based producers of scientific knowledge, mainly about the problems of the university. A recurring subject is: “Who should have a voice in deciding what kind of knowledge is most urgently needed, has the highest utility”? For whom? Needs and utility are subjective concepts and vary between users. Unless there is unanimity, we must have a process for aggregating varying priorities. That will engage (the science of) politics and economics. As by now must be evident, they are not up to the job, and thus – directly or indirectly – cause many of SIT’s problems. Utility presumes that science has a function: helping us in decision-making (see my article “The purpose of science”). For knowledge to fulfill that function requires a known (or at  least shared) and positive degree of reliability; otherwise its utility is zero or even negative. In social science it is often unknown. The first culprit is a compartmentalization that thwarts the integration that is a precondition for apprehending living systems.  The second is the lack of an effective selection and validation function that – in the inert world – is performed by nature (the failed experiment, the collapsed bridge). Dealing with them can take us to science 3,5 as a first step towards – who knows – science 4.0.
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