Chapter published in:Science and Democracy: Controversies and conflicts
Edited by Pierluigi Barrotta and Giovanni Scarafile
[Controversies 13] 2018
► pp. 127–144
Science and the source of legitimacy in democratic regimes
… the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using the word if it were tied down to any one meaning. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. George Orwell (1968, pp. 132–3)Democracy admits no source of authority. It assumes that values are not derived from facts, and facts are not derived from values. This runs contrary to Plato’s “virtue [values] is knowledge.” According to Plato’s logic, experts should rule the republic. Contrary to his view, Democracy assumes that there are not experts on values. Therefore, democracy means the “decision” to rule by means of formal procedures like suffrage or rotation of rulers. Unlike in science, what prevails is not reason and authority based on knowledge. This is the ground for the needed measures against the tyranny of the majority to assure tolerance, freedom and equality before the law.
Keywords: facts, values, tolerance, practical knowledge
Published online: 23 May 2018
Benoist, L. de
Fornara, C. W. & Samson, L. J. II
Manning, J. F.
May, K. O.
Rousseau, J. J.
Simon, H. A.