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Liberalism and Deep Ecology are usually regarded as mutually exclusive. However, the “evolutionary” tradition of liberal thought, rooted in David Hume and Adam Smith, and including Michael Polanyi and F. A. Hayek, provides a foundation for their reconciliation. Linkage is through Hume and Smith's conception of sympathy, which today means empathy. For Hume, sympathy extends into the animal realm. Sympathy is essential for certain scientific work, and provides an foundation for both liberal and ecological ethics. Deep ecologists such as Arne Naess use the same concept. Linkage is first to biocentric ethics, and then, through examining natural beauty and, via Michael Polanyi's tacit knowledge, ecocentric ethics. The work of Hayek suggests how modern society might be harmonized with the requirements of nature. This deepens J. Baird Callicott's pioneering approach, uniting it with Lewis Hinchman's recent analysis. Liberalism's and Deep Ecology's foundations both benefit from their mutual integration.
The role of elites within liberal democracy is a perennial issue. One reason why is an inappropriate theoretical conception of democracy. They are self-organizing systems rather than instrumental organizations. As such they have more in common systemically with science and the market than with democratic organizations or undemocratic states. Examining the role of elites within science and the market sheds light on how they work within democracies. Such an examination shows them to be both necessary and dangerous. Traditional “elitist” analyses of democracy suffer from confusions which the self-organizing model clears up. It also offers improvements on traditional “pluralist” conceptions.
Democracies do not fight one another. This is because they are self-organizing systems and therefore fundamentally distinct from other states. As systems, liberal democracies have more in common with science and the market than they do with undemocratic states. By contrast, undemocratic states are best conceived as instrumental organizations pursuing relatively well defined goals. Liberal democracies do not normally pursue particular goals, are rarely comprehensible as rational actors, have unusually open boundaries, are self-transforming, and handle greater complexity than instrumental organizations. These characteristics provide the foundation for their mutually pacific relationships. The U.S. president's partial insulation from these characteristics explains why the United States has sometimes undermined small quasi-democratic states. This analysis sheds light on how norms and institutions help maintain the democratic peace.
F. A. Hayek's theory of spontaneous order applies to more than the market. One implication is that different systems of rules generating different spontaneous orders are biased in favor of different values. Markets serve the values of consumers; democracies serve the values of citizens. No spontaneous order perfectly reflects human values because they simplify the context of choice in favor of core systemic values. This insight enables us to distinguish between systemic and individual resources, and tensions between them. It also enables us to develop models of systemic conflict. Of particular interest are interactions between democracies and markets whose rules reflect different values but influence one another. The increasing commodification of the press shifts this institution from reflecting both democratic and economic values more and more to purely economic values, undermining its capacity to serve citizens. Examples illustrating this argument are explored.
Liberal political thought has fractured into “classical” and “modern” camps. This division is rooted in differing reactions to the rise of capitalism and democracy, which are institutional outgrowths of liberal principles, unanticipated by its seminal thinkers. Both “classical” and “modern” liberalism are led astray by classifying liberal democracy as a kind of state. But democracies are not states; they are selforganizing systems. When the nature of this error is grasped, a more coherent liberal vision emerges, where the key tension in liberal society is between selforganizing systems and instrumental organizations. Possibilities in public policy take on new dimensions as well.
The world we know is largely the institutional outcome of liberalism's political triumph, first in the West and increasingly worldwide. Yet today liberal thought is deeply divided against itself and, in this division, often unable to comprehend a world in many ways its product. This division grows primarily from tensions between two liberal institutions: liberal, or representative, democracy and the market, and also from the near universal failure of liberals to grasp democratic government's unusual systemic character. Tensions between liberal democracy and the market are central issues, whereas the character of democratic government receives far less attention. Yet how the first issue is evaluated depends in part on understanding the last. Liberalism has strengthened the intellectual, legal, economic and political status of individuals within society, emphasizing equality of status for all people.
How the Cows Turned Mad describes the centuries-long search for the cause of obscure and always fatal diseases that first apparently afflicted sheep and later were found to attack people as well. This search led to the discovery of prions, the paradoxical proteins that scientists now believe are the cause of mad cow disease, Creutzfeldt Jakob disease (CJD), kuru, and scrapie. Along the way, researchers earned two Nobel Prizes. Author Maxime Schwartz is a molecular biologist, former head of the Institut Pasteur, and director of laboratories for the French agency for food safety, among his other scientific achievements. He is also an exceptionally clear writer.
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