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Why Science Is Necessary for Democracy, and Vice Versa Lee Smolin Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Dept of Physics, Univ of Waterloo: 

Why Science Is Necessary for Democracy, and Vice Versa Lee Smolin Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and Dept of Physics, Univ of Waterloo How does science work? Global Soul Food Do scientific ideas evolve in parallel with our understanding of democracy? Cosmology, evolution and democracy Relationalism vrs relativism Science and art

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Slide 2 Slide 2

How does science work?: 

How does science work? Logical positivism: The meaning of a sentence is the instructions to verify it. Popper: Statements cannot be verified. They can be falsified. Kuhn: The structure of scientific revolutions Normal science vrs revolutionary science But how does one tell which is which? Feyerabend: There is no scientific method. Scientists are opportunists Name any rule. A great scientist broke it (and had to break it to make progress.)

So how does science really work? : 

So how does science really work? There is no scientific method. Both the scientific and the democratic processes require reasoning from shared, but incomplete, evidence to limited, but ever expanding, consensus. How can this work?

Hence: Doing science teaches us how to be citizens of a democracy.: 

Hence: Doing science teaches us how to be citizens of a democracy.

Scientific communities are also imaginative communities: 

Scientific communities are also imaginative communities A community that is oriented to the future and open to novel ideas and practices. That incorporates structures and practices that allow members to imagine novel solutions to problems and to experiment with their adoption. That can continually evolve, in response both to ever-changing circumstances and the deepening of our ideas about society, A community that can evolve without violence or revolution.

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To remain vibrant and healthy, a democratic society must be both an ethical and an imaginative community. We can learn, from examination of the scientific community, how a community can be both imaginative and ethical

Scientific communities are pluralistic: 

Scientific communities are pluralistic We are members of a growing community of “Global Souls” in Pico Iyer’s formulation. You are a global soul if you: were educated or are working in a country different from that of your birth have a partner or spouse from a different country. Spend more time on airplanes and in airports than you do with your parents and siblings.

Pi scientists come from: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Spain, United States.: 

Pi scientists come from: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Spain, United States.

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An exponentially increasing number of people in science, arts, management, entertainment, finance, academics, etc are global souls. Global Souls are increasingly influential in terms of ideas/science/arts/business/the economy. But increasingly disenfranchised relative to local politics. Where do we vote? Should we have a seat in the UN?

Is there a pluralistic model of democracy appropriate to a community of global souls? Might it be the scientific community? Can we imagine a democratic society as a network of ethical and imaginative communities? Can we get any insight into these questions from science itself?: 

Is there a pluralistic model of democracy appropriate to a community of global souls? Might it be the scientific community? Can we imagine a democratic society as a network of ethical and imaginative communities? Can we get any insight into these questions from science itself?

How do scientific ideas evolve in parallel with our understanding of democracy?: 

How do scientific ideas evolve in parallel with our understanding of democracy? Our concepts of society have paralleled our understanding of space and time: Three Stages…...

The hierarchical universe: 

The hierarchical universe All properties defined with respect to hierarchy Observer/God is in perfect realm outside the universe Aristotelian cosmology Medieval society

The Newtonian “liberal” universe: 

The Newtonian “liberal” universe Properties (rights) all defined with respect to an eternal absolute background of space and time All atoms equal, all have properties (rights) independent of relations to the others. Omniscient observer, “god”, is outside the universe. Newtonian physics liberal political and legal theory

The relational/pluralistic universe: 

The relational/pluralistic universe The universe is nothing but an ever-evolving network of relationships. All properties are about relations between subsystems. No view or observer from outside the universe: only internal observers with partial views. General relativity Quantum theory Critical legal studies

Fundamental physics is about networks and their evolution. : 

Fundamental physics is about networks and their evolution. Quantum black hole Quantum space-time (As explained by Loop Quantum Gravity)

Even logic may be made more relational: 

Even logic may be made more relational Classical logic assumes an eternal Platonic realm of truth in which all propositions are for all time either true or false. Intuitionalistic logic assumes that truth values are determined by an agent who cannot determine the truth or falsity of all propositions-hence no excluded middle (A or not A.) She is situated in time, and it is assumed that her knowledge grows in time.

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What about social theory? Is it also becoming more relational?

Social theory and cosmology according to Roberto Mangabeira Unger: 

Social theory and cosmology according to Roberto Mangabeira Unger “You can trace properties of the present universe back to properties it must have had at the beginning. But you cannot show that these are the only properties that the universe might have had…Earlier or later universe might have had entirely different laws…To state the laws of nature is not to describe or explain all possible histories of all possible universes. Only a relative distinction exists between law like explanation and narration of a one time historical sequence.”

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“If you are asked what you mean by the necessity of the laws of nature (that is to say by the necessity of the most necessary relations), you can legitimately respond only by laying out the substance of your cosmological and other scientific ideas. People who appeal to fixed conceptions of necessity, contingency and possibility are simply confused.”

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“It is always an I who says we.” -Jacques Derrida

Relationalism and Darwinism : 

Relationalism and Darwinism The main slogan of relational physics is that “There is nothing outside the universe” This means that there is no absolute, eternal “maker” to impose order. Nor can order be explained by eternal laws. So, in relational universe, order and complexity must be explained by processes of self-organization.

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Darwin taught us that there are processes of self-organization sufficient to explain the observed complexity Conversely, natural selection acts only on relational properties. Hence, natural selection only makes sense in a relational universe. Gravity!!!!

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“To suppose universal laws of nature capable of being apprehended by the mind and yet having no reason for their special forms, but standing inexplicable and irrational, is hardly a justifiable position. Uniformities are precisely the sort of facts that need to be accounted for. Law is par excellence the thing that wants a reason. Now the only possible way of accounting for the laws of nature, and for uniformity in general, is to suppose them results of evolution.” -Charles Sanders Pierce, 1891

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Hence, the two pillars of 20th century thought, Darwinism, in biology and relationalism, in relativity and quantum theory, are deeply intertwined. They together will be the basis of our twenty-first century world view…. for science and society. Democracy, seen from this perspective, is a process of continual evolution by which we humans act to organize our continually evolving networks of relationships. Such a democracy is necessarily pluralistic and experimental.

Relationalism is not relativism: 

Relationalism is not relativism Relativism falls into the trap that if there is no absolute reference point, every act is equivalent morally, aesthetically and with regard to truth. Truth and beauty become suspect categories. A relativist would argue that if there is no absolute rules for scientific method, science is just sociology and cannot lead to truth.

In relationalism: : 

In relationalism: All points of view and all experiences are not equally valid. To be taken seriously you must argue ethically and you must practice your craft well. There is a commitment that when there is shared evidence we will argue till we come to consensus. This allows science to progress without belief in an absolute eternal judgement.

What about postmodernism? We can learn from the artists who have grappled with it. The real two culture split: Those who work with texts: humanists, critics, historians… Those who work with their hands: visual artists, scientists, architects, engineers… The third culture: scientists, artists, digirati...: 

What about postmodernism? We can learn from the artists who have grappled with it. The real two culture split: Those who work with texts: humanists, critics, historians… Those who work with their hands: visual artists, scientists, architects, engineers… The third culture: scientists, artists, digirati...

“If the purpose of modernism in art was to burn the old classical house down, all that postmodernism has been doing is playing with the little charred pieces that are left, which is a pretty puerile thing to be doing considering that winter is coming.” -Saint Clair Cemin: 

“If the purpose of modernism in art was to burn the old classical house down, all that postmodernism has been doing is playing with the little charred pieces that are left, which is a pretty puerile thing to be doing considering that winter is coming.” -Saint Clair Cemin

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Homage to Darwin

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Homage to Sartre

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At the tribunal of one’s life 1987

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First lesson 1992

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Spring 2000 Bastad Sweden

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One and many

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Donna Moylan “The Proof”

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Air Travel 2002 Donna Moylan

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Nomad Target 2002 Donna Moylan

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Ray Smith Smoke 1999

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Ray Smith Reindas 2000

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Ray Smith Mariana 2000

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Beauty and truth are no less real for not being anchorable in any eternal, absolute, transcendent background. Given our situation as limited observers in a natural world, the search for truth and beauty is an ethical choice, and experience shows that ethical communities do find them. In a pluralistic world, where artists and scientists are members of ethical and imaginative communities, there can be progress in art, science and society. Truth and beauty exist, but they are fragile, ever open to challenge, to surprise and novelty. It is our job to discover them and protect them. One can believe that we will know more in the future without believing that at some time some one will know everything or that there is some abstract, Platonic sense in which truth already “exists” outside of time.

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"This interconnection (or accommodation) of all created things to each other, brings it about that each simple substance has relations that express all the others, and consequently, that each simple substance is a perpetual, living mirror of the universe. Just as the same city viewed from different directions appears entirely different and, as it were, multiplied perspectively, in just the same way it happens that, because of the infinite multitude of simple substances, there are, as it were, just as many different universes, which are, nevertheless, only perspectives on a single one, ...

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…And this is the way of obtaining as much variety as possible, but with the greatest order possible. That is, it is the way of obtaining as much perfection as possible" -G. W. Leibniz, Monadology, 1714

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