Secular Right | Reality & Reason



The philosophers as types

I don’t know what to make of this David Brooks column, Bentham vs. Hume. I will say that the main reason I lean Right is a suspicion of the efficacy of managerial technocracy. And I speak as someone who is positively inclined toward scatterplots & regression.



  • Donna B. · October 7, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    My take: Bentham – look confident when you don’t have a clue; Hume – admit there’s no one single best way for everyone and allow them to find their own.

    But it does look like Bentham is going to win in the short term.

  • Derek Scruggs · October 7, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    It seemed like an awkward kind of Palinism to me. I agree with his basic point, but I know an awful lot of grads from places like Stanford and they don’t look like he describes. I mean, the founders of Google met at Stanford and they basically proved algorithmically that bottom-up yields better results. This is not controversial at elite schools. Meanwhile I have friends who voted for Palin who still use AOL search because that’s what pops up when they get on the Internet.

  • Joseph Marshall · October 7, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    But it’s really going to be a debate about how to promote innovation.

    There it is in a nutshell. All the rest is extended metaphor. We are going to change, one way or the other. The mere names tied to the attitudes are fluff. The genuine question is, How will we promote innovation?

  • John · October 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    I didn’t know David Brooks knew Razib 🙂

    This is the first Brooks column I’ve agreed with in a long time.

  • Aaron · October 7, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    What’s the big mystery? This column is just pure, classic neoconservatism, Public Interest circa 1970: a critique of Mr. Bentham from the point of view of Mr. Hume, who’s been mugged by reality. And on technological issues like health-care reform, neoconservatism hasn’t changed all that much since then.

    What’s the answer to this column? Neocons (I’d tentatively put City Journal‘s Heather Mac Donald in this category) obviously have their answer: they’re in there with Mr. Brooks and Mr. Hume. Libertarians have their own one-size-fits-all single answer to all questions – no need to repeat that. What about those conservatives who are not neoconservatives? Same answer as they gave in the 1970s, I’d think: welcome Mr. Hume’s technological hume-ility as one weapon, perhaps the most powerful one, against Mr. Bentham, while resisting the temptation to believe that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Politics-as-technology is itself the danger, whether it’s bad technology (Mr. Bentham) or good technology (Mr. Hume).

  • Aaron · October 7, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Correction: Maybe instead of “…while resisting the temptation…” I should have said, “…but this time resisting the temptation…”.

  • kme · October 8, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Now if only the Republican party in any way espoused the beliefs of Mr Hume…

  • Polichinello · October 8, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Brooks is the luckiest man alive. I mean, he actually gets paid to spew shit like this (what? Twice a week?) while people doing real work toil for peanuts. Screw Hume and Bentham. Brooks is the guy to follow.



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