Epistemology

(Sent to The Daily Telegraph 21st August 2002 but unpublished)

Contempt for Reason

Sir,

The government's appetite for doing 'good' through legislation goes far beyond a "contempt for liberty and property". It stems from a contempt for reason. They literally do not believe that people can think for themselves. Following most modern philosophy, they believe that individual reason is subjective and unable to attain the truth. However collective reason, they say, as represented by the people through government, can overcome these limitations. I ask, how? What power of omniscience arises in a collection of minds that the individual minds do not have alone? If one Frenchman can be wrong then so can fifty million, and so can one be right.

The 'truth is out there' for everyone to grasp if they make the mental effort. Many cannot be bothered or fear their own mistakes and so accept the diktats of the state without complaining. But those of us who do think for ourselves, who are prepared to rely on our reason and in consequence allow others to act on their reasoning too, must rebel against this utter contempt for our minds. Who do the government think they are? Infallible gods?

Henry Afton