Monday, March 25, 2019

On the importance of debate..............

     Hayek condemned those who wanted to suppress debate, what he called "the presumption of any group of people"—such as Myrdal's unanimous development experts—"to claim the right to determine what people ought to think or believe."  The absence of dissent would "produce a stagnation of thought and a decline of reason."  Hayek argued that it is not possible to know which innovation in thinking will succeed (otherwise it wouldn't be innovation!):  "results [of thinking] cannot be predicted . . . we cannot know which views will assist this growth [of reason] and which will not—in short . . . this growth cannot be governed by any views which we now possess without at the same time limiting it."  For development to occur it is thus necessary to have the debate among many "different views." . . .
     All that can be predicted is that inhibiting debate is bad for the progress of reason.  The absence of debate on the technocratic approach to development stifles progress in development, which in itself is immoral.

-William Easterly, The Tyranny of Experts:  Economists, Dictators and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor

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