Friday, August 11, 2006

The Prescribed Limit

In return for the rewards of status, position, and recognition, scholars and scientists subject themselves to the unwritten command that they are to interpret their findings in a manner consistent with the ethical presuppositions of the academy. A moral philosopher at a university, for instance, will apply his rigorous, complex, and undeniably intelligent logic only up to a prescribed limit, even though in doing so he runs the risk of leaving his argument exposed. By way of compensation he is able to permit himself a premise, such as “ethnic prejudice is wrong,” for which he can rely on the quiet consent of colleagues who know deep down as well as he does that it cannot be rationally substantiated.

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