Updated: Oct 24, 2019
What the guys say
CARL. Ladies and gentlemen, today we have a topic which has been recently brought up in our school. We will begin by making some questions like: have you ever tried drugs? If so, was it legal? There are many kinds of drugs including alcohol and cigarettes which are legal however. This shows that all drugs aren't treated equally. So what determines if a drug should be illegal or not? Is this really fair?
DANIEL. We asked ourselves the same questions and from that we extracted the following Knowledge Questions that we will treat in the following presentation: HOW DO POLITICIANS RELY ON KNOWLEDGE TO CREATE LAWS?
In other words, upon what knowledge do they base their reasoning to implement a law and how can they trust if this is in fact truthful.
CARL. To answer this question we picked the Prohibition Law of 1920’s in the United States as our RLS. This law was implemented by religious Pietists to prohibit all alcohol consumption and production in the US in a time in which there was a lot of alcoholism that caused major problems to the population.
DANIEL. The AOK that we will use as instruments for the analysis of this knowledge question are:
Faith (explain that it can be non-religious)
Religion(explain that we will focus in Christianity since it is relevant for our real life situation. We used these but all of the others could have been used but we needed a sharper focus for our presentation.
We will start with History. The religious Pietists claimed that History tends to repeat itself and thus we should prohibit alcohol because alcoholism was causing many problems.
DANIEL. Inductive reasoning. Which is a reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion. This has shown to be effective in the past and law-makers do really take into account past events as to prevent the ones that resulted being negative and promote those which had a positive impact. This means that historical knowledge, on this light, is useful for law as it help us understand how society works.
DANIEL. But one may say that although this is in fact plausible: no single historical event is the result of an isolated cause but rather a complex continuum of interrelated causes. It would be fair to say that most likely people did not only drink because they enjoyed to drink but many other reasons like the unstability of the families, depression, nihilism, etc… This might be a case of what is known as ‘hindsight bias’: the historian can know how a certain historical event turned out and what it led to better than the people who lived such event, this way he/she may want to interpret historical phenomena in a certain way or investigate and push forward findings that support their beliefs, as for our RLS both Pietist and people against the Prohibition Law looked in instances of history where the consumption of alcohol had be beneficial or detrimental, respectively.
DANIEL. Then, on the other hand we have the inductive reasoning problem: how many times does something need to take place for us to know that it will repeat itself. For example, the sun has risen every day for millions of years but we cannot be certain that it will rise again, this is what a negativist holds: we can disprove theories but never prove them.
DANIEL. This might be because they have faith that a certain thing will happen. Faith is sometimes seem as a corruption of reason while others might see it as a complement. This is because faith evokes strong feelings that can hinder our reasoning or point to unseen aspects of reality that make us able to gain knowledge.
DANIEL. Let’s see for example this instance in which faith acted as a hinder of reasoning.
CARL. Vietnam War (going out of their historical context)
Drugs are bad for your health
We should prohibit things that are bad for health
Therefore, we should prohibit drugs
Taking drugs is illegal
People who do illegal things are criminals
Hippies do drugs
Hippies are criminals and therefore bad people
This was used to criminalize groups who opposed the Vietnam War. Instead of criminalizing the opposition of war, they criminalized stereotypes associated with groups.
This leads to confirmation bias.
is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, in other words, see what one wants to see. There is actual evidence that this was confirmation bias in this case:
CARL. Emotion(being conservative). In the Disney™ movie Moana™, Moana is the village chief's daughter and she's somewhat in charge. A natural phenomenon has lead to them catching almost no fish, their main source of food. Moana suggests they sail out and fish offshore. However, the chief has a policy of not leaving the island because of an incident. "We have a law" he says. Moana then replies "A law when we had fish". What this means is that laws are created on certain bases but circumstances can change and then it may be necessary to update laws.
CARL. Limitations and conclusion: of course, we can never be sure about what historical events are true or which are not and also to what extent and intensity, how some wise person once wrote “If you want to keep your teeth, make sure to do your own sandwiches” meaning that since we have not lived the historical event ourselves we can only inflict our judgement upon the information available for historians. This, so in this light, can be biased as we have seen.
DANIEL. Nonetheless, history plays a key role in lawmaking that we cannot and must not ignore for it gives us an informed and educated insight into the functioning of society and how society might work if certain factors are altered in specific ways, but of course this might be different according to whom we ask the questions.
CARL. Moving on to Science:
Science has proven to be a great source of knowledge and be very helpful for the advancement of humankind therefore many people hold science to be the best “truth-discoverer”.
In the perspective of a Pietist alcohol had bad effects on health, this was something that was discovered empirically and well-discussed, sufficient and educated evidence was available to them. Alcoholism rates were very high at the time.
CARL. Notwithstanding, science tries to be more accurate by being vague so scientifically proven statements can be interpreted in a different manner to confirm our beliefs.
Confirmation Bias: Vague
"You're eating an unhealthy diet" -> What's healthy?
"Eat a balanced diet"
You need to exercise more -> how much is more?
drugs are dangerous -> what kind of drugs? how much? How dangerous?
In this case: ALCOHOL IS BAD
This can lead to confirmation bias
CARL. Also, Scientific knowledge is dependant on research and requires money from sponsors. This means that the sponsors decide what kind of research is published. If they don't want something published it won't get funded.
Funding: The people funding the research will affect the outcome. For example, coca cola funds research that says you need to exercise and that diet is not that important to your health. Scientific knowledge is limited by what we choose to research. We can't know what we don't research. Pietist pushed the Government into looking at research that proved the alcohol to be bad for health.
CARL. Moreover, sciences are not wholly certain as most people belief. For example, biology can be uncertain since humans have emergent properties that are nearly impossible to predict outcomes. This is why medicine affects people differently.
And not everyone who consumes alcohol is unhealthy or an alcoholic for that matter.
DANIEL. Conclusions and Limitations: Of course natural sciences have their problems, in fact, its benevolence might be the reason it can be used malevolently: since people consider science to be so certain and perfect they might be blind to its disadvantages such as the bias that might arise from hidden interests or the need of funding as well as more intrinsic aspects such as the emergent properties or the induction problem.
CARL. Science has proven to be extremely useful as a tool that gives us insight into how to make things in the most effective way and as well as produce the best outcomes in matters that deal about the relation of humans with the surrounding world -nature- therefore science must be a part of the decision-making in law. Politicians must consider what scientists say and where studies point to so as to make the best decision.
Religion(explain that we will focus on Christianity since they were Christian)
DANIEL. In the perspective of a Pietist we could claim that. Religion teachings are absolute as they are the word of God and thus, religious scripture can give us insight into how we should live our lives and ultimately what laws to make to maintain the connivance. So a Pietist might show us this quotes from the Holy Bible and think the discussion to be over. Because as we said, religious scripture is certain.
“Envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21)
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18)
“Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1)
DANIEL. But, religion is very ambiguous. Let’s see for example these quotes that the opposition to this Law could have picked to prove their point and compare it to the former:
As we can see both sides have sound arguments seen from a religious perspective, but both are, so to speak, cherry picking so as to prove their standpoint.
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” (Ecclesiastes 9:7)
“Wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts” (Psalm 104:14-15)
The fact that Jesus converted water into wine and he also offered his blood and body to his followers in the form of wine and bread, respectively.
CARL EXPLAINING THE CHERRY PICKING OF SHRIMPS IN THE BIBLE
CARL EXPLAINING DIAGRAM. Show diagram- circle of twisted reasoning
We can claim that Faith is a way of knowledge when there is little information available because it evokes very strong feelings, some think it is a corruption of reason because it drives us to unreasonable conclusions but the religious could claim that faith is indeed reasonable since God gives us all the answers, religion is in this way absolute.
CARL. Conclusion and limitations: There are multiple equally valuable realities that must be taken into account, for the government represents everyone and the law affects all members of society. not everyone is a Christian, not every Christian belongs to the same branch of Christianity and not every Christian interprets the Bible in the same way as it results to be so ambiguous and contradictory at times.
Then we also need to consider and ponder whether the faith that comes from religion is in fact helping or reasoning or hindering it, this is of course a matter of interpretation so then perhaps we should try to move towards, so to speak, more valuable and adequate interpretations. This needs to be taken into account to make laws as the religious scripture is plural in voice and interpretation and so is the people politicians are accountable for.
DANIEL. Of course, religion has been a great asset into the knowledge of how to life our lives throughout centuries and even millennia. It is absolute and certain in its answer to the different problems or questions that humans may make to themselves making it a very easy and deep-rooted way to assess lawmaking, always considering that humans will never have answer to the deepest mysteries so it may be wise to hold our religious beliefs with a degree of humility.
As we have seen faith, emotion and reason inasmuch as religion, history and natural sciences help us make sense of the world and understand the possible causes and solutions of problems in society so as well as give us insight into the best way to live our lives and live in society. This is a very important aspect into political decision making.
We must nonetheless understand that all our tools for knowledge are flawed without exception in different manners of extent, and that this “insight” might be blurred and bias according to our political perspective and that we may interpret phenomena in many different ways that oftentimes are influenced by our own interests. Perhaps the job of the politician is to make an educated approach taking into account the different perspective that are present on the table and apply their critical thinking so as to obtain the most adequate decision that will benefit the majority and to try to make the most educated and adequate interpretation of the world that surround us as well as the sources from which we take the information- can we ever really trust anything we are told? Sadly, this is not a reality but a utopia of how law-making should work and, more often than not, decision making in politics is based upon a political agenda and a populous approach so as to be liked and voted by the majority.
CARL. So next time you are going to vote, think about all the different aspects that must be taken into account in the process of creating law, not everything is a pro and against battle between two distinct views but rather an spectrum in which an incredible amount of factors need to be taken into consideration, for society and legitimation are an extremely complicated living processes, DANIEL but it might as well just be Donald Trump grabbing you by pussy.