Monday, January 29, 2007

I also found "The Ambiguous Role of Science and Technology" the most interesting of the readings so far. I struggle with the idea of how science is (or should be) viewed by the greater public. I agree that philosophy and other humanities will play an important role in how we treat our environment; to tie it in to Proctor, perhaps the role of humanities scholars is to evaluate the public's values towards the environment, while scientists provide the facts to back these values up. However, as a science student, one thing bothers me when philosophers try to assert their knowledge in the 'scientific' area: They don't know what they're talking about. Did anyone else notice that Marx wrote CO2 with a superscript 2, not a subscript? I know it's petty but it's the kind of thing that clues me in to the fact that I know more about science than this guy, and that makes me less likely to listen to him talk about science. Scientists probably need to be less dismissive of the humanities, but humanities scholars also have the responsibility to try to understand any environmental problem before they claim to know how to fix it.
Overall, though, I think Marx is right about the beneficial role that the humanities can play in resolving environmental issues, since science alone hasn't proven very effective. Scientist after scientist has come forward with proposals for how to reverse the effects of problems like global warming, but many people seem unwilling to make simple changes like switch to cars with higher gas mileage, conserve energy and water, etc. Perhaps the role of humanities scholars is to help the public evaluate which steps towards sustainability it is willing to take.

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