Thursday, March 28, 2013

Storm Alert – We Are Getting Into Some Very Interesting Debate

Dr. Sened is a Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis, and former chair of the Political Science Department at Washington University. His main interests are comparative theory of institutions, game theory and mathematical modeling. Dr. Sened teaches Undergraduate and Graduate level courses in the Political Science Department.

This coming Monday we will post a post by Murray Weidnbaum.  Everyone who knows who Murray Weidenbaum is, knows his political background at the heart of the Republican consecutive conservative administration of the 1970s and 1980’s.  We believe that posting his post and then a follow up directly discussion his claims is going to be really beneficial for us all.  So brace yourself for some heated debate starting next week.

This Monday I am going to concede my position as chief blogger of this blog to a close friend of mine, Murray Weidenbaum.  In my mind, Murray Weidenbaum is one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century.  He pretty much invented the so-called Reaganomics or was at the very least one of its founding fathers.

Needless to say, that our positions on a lot of different issues differ significantly, but I have always found it fascinating to have this open debate with Murray.  So much so that many years ago we started co-teaching a class on social sciences that co-teach to this very day.  The open disagreements between us enriches the perspective of the students and enriches both of us as we engage in these debates in front of our students.

Murray Weidnbaum has been so kind as agree to bring our open debate to the blog.  I find his post extremely helpful because it will allow all of our readers to ‘hear the other side.’ But probably much more importantly it will allow me to get into some of the issues we would never have gotten into had we not had a ‘devils advocate’ in Murray Weidenbaum.

Shortly after publishing Murray’s post on Monday I will take a stab at it, writing a long response that I would hope draw Murray to respond and that will create some fascinating drama on the Blog and will allow us to survey new territory we would have not gotten into with out this exercise.

One of the most famous philosophical arguments in defense of open and free speech appears in ‘On Liberty’ by John Stuart Mill. The beauty of the argument is in the four stages it proceeds in that I want to remind all of us.  In the first stage Mill point out that we don’t know what is true so we would better remain open to diverging views.  The next step is to argue that even if we believe that ‘truth is on our side’ we need to be careful to check ourselves and opening up and listening to other opinions are the only way to do so.  The third step is to argue that even if ‘truth is on our side’ and the other opinion is probably lacking, it is still the case that the other opinion may include some bits and pieces of truth that are worth paying attention to.  Finally, Mill argues, even if ‘truth is on our side and there is nothing to be gained from the other opinion which is patently wrong, without a patently wrong opinion to compare it to, we would never be able to establish and appreciate that which is true.

As we launched the blog we promised to bring in all the opinions worthy of print.  Murray Weidenbaum’s certainly pass the threshold of being worthy of publication, but for our purposes it will serve as a first step in an open debate that will enrich all of us.

So brace yourself for some drama next week.  Yesterday’s post by Alex Bluestone advocated a dialog that will cut through political and ideological positions.  We believe that the open debate with Murray Weidenbaum will enrich the discussion on our blog and that is why we look forward to the drama to start on Monday.


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