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The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature Hardcover – February 9, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
The first few two chapters are ones devoted to making the former case, the largely theoretical argument that science and liberalism have much in common. Both function by individuals being left free to make testable claims, test their own and others claims, and find truth by participating in this social process. This is similar to liberalism in that authority is never immune from challenge, people are left largely free to "experiment" with how best to live, and everyone can participate in the marketplace of ideas. (For perhaps the best theoretical comparison of science to liberty, check out Michael Polanyi's LOGIC OF LIBERTY, THE.)
From here, Ferris moves on to look at the historical connection between science and liberty (and that between pseudoscience and illiberalism). Chapter four ("Science of Enlightenment") and five ("American Independence") are of particular interest here as Ferris shows how many scientists championed liberty, and how many advocates of liberty championed science. Virtually all of the founders (Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Paine, etc) studied and were enthusiastic about science. Similarly, Newton and Bacon, who wrote primarily on science, also ruminated quite a bit on liberty.Read more ›
"The Science of Liberty" is arguably his best book: it has all his trademark eloquence and a vastly more relevant topic. But the huge popularity of his earlier books won't repeat here. Ferris has stepped from neutral ground onto a morally charged minefield to forcefully argue that individual liberty and scientific inquiry are historically and inseparably linked, and that together they form the principal engine of human progress. Any book taking a passionate and unequivocal moral stand will provoke loud protests from someone. Neither science nor liberty have historically lacked powerful and visible enemies: religions, monarchies, dictatorships, holy terrorists, etc. Their heirs won't be reading this book. The incandescently obvious success of (small "l") liberal democracies and scientists in improving human life on our planet has forced most of its modern adversaries underground--where they chip away at the basic assumptions of science and lobby for ever tighter limits on freedom. They will hate this book and you'll surely be hearing from some of them on this page.
A prefatory note: The title isn't meant to imply that liberty or liberal governance is a science. The author means to show that science and liberty were siblings born of common parents.Read more ›
Not long ago I would have passed this book by - simply on the basis of its title and content. The engaging style of writing and fascinating topics covered kept me interested from beginning to end. I particularly enjoyed the many historical references and background that the book covers. Much of it I had a smattering of background in but the author was very good at delivering insightful snippets that brought history to life.
While not everyone will agree with Mr. Ferris, he makes a compelling argument for the value of science in promoting liberty and the general improvement in the quality of life for all those nations that embrace freedom in scientific endeavors. I for one agree with his observations and conclusions.
In all this I see Ferris as on the side of the angels. I do not know enough to really either defend or take issue with the body of his historical story. I too tend to sympathize with his strong critique of the Post- Modern nonsensists,
But I do wonder and am troubled by where Humanity as a whole now is in relation to the developments which have been described. Does the rise of scientific researches which involve very vast collaborative efforts really make room still for the work of individual genius?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Informative reading about the influence of science on the political development of our nation as well as some European countries. Read morePublished 7 months ago by J A Tony Marquez
This is a masterful review of the contribution of Science to the development of liberal societies in the western world. Read morePublished 13 months ago by David B. Thomas
In this sweeping book, Ferris covers so much about science and history that I often had to reread paragraphs just because I wanted to make sure I got everything out of his words. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Book Trope 9
Timothy Ferris wrote an excellent book about the history of science from a political perspective.
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great book. I recommend reading it! Nicely written with very good explanations. The author did a fantastic job... go for it!Published on March 21, 2014 by nuno lemos
If you like history you will like this book helpful for understanding how the simplicity of the essence of how founding for fathers look at aspects of reasonPublished on February 25, 2014 by Anthony destefano
Timothy Ferris has written some of the best popular science books. Coming of Age in the Milky Way is one of the best books of any kind that I've ever read. Read morePublished on October 23, 2013 by Robert Watson