Science, self-control and human freedom

A naturalistic approach

in The freedom of scientific research
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The standard view on science and human freedom claims that science contributes to human autonomy or self-determination through the discovery of natural laws and processes. In other words, by providing knowledge and devices to solve practical problems and stimulate economic growth. A more likely hypothesis is that the invention of the scientific method in the modern age has introduced a new way of thinking into human communities. In this way, some new psychological skills have been made available to an increasing number of people. These skills allowed human beings to achieve important cognitive and moral improvements, which made liberal and democratic governments possible. The chapter defends this hypothesis. Specifically, it suggests that science education has the potential to make people more cooperative, less self-centred and impulsive, and more self-controlled (in the sense of autonomous). The chapter discusses strategies to enhance individual capacities and to make social communities flourish.

The freedom of scientific research

Bridging the gap between science and society

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