The impact of SEC (not the football conference)

Science, empire, and capitalism are linked by nature of society, or perhaps by nature of people of the Western ideology according to Harari. In terms of capitalism and science’s relationship, Harari points to two hypothetical scientists. One intends to study a disease that decreases cows’ production of milk, and thus harms the dairy market. The other wishes to study whether cows endure mental distress when separated from their calves. In a western capitalist society, the respective first scientist would have a greater chance of receiving funding, as they are studying something which has implications on a national market (Harari 273). Science and empire were more consistently linked in colonial times. For instance, the rapid exploration of North American lands was fueled by a desire to spread European influence and power (Harari 288). This greatly reduces the so-called innocence of science as a pure desire to discover and learn for the greater good of humanity.
I believe that Harari’s argument that science, empire, and capitalism are linked in the name of progress is a fair argument, but potentially not always for the better. Progress itself must be examined from multiple viewpoints and definitions. While science is essentially the progression of ideas and theories, it can be manipulated for one party’s gain or progress over another. For instance, the Spanish empire used science in the name of gain over the Mayans in South America, at the expense of a blossoming culture. Furthermore, it is not a certainty that the udder disease should be researched over the mental disorder for cows, it is simply which scientific progression is deemed more important at that moment. It may, from a moral standpoint, be more of an ethical responsibility to research whether or not cows suffer when separated from their children supposing that the disease only affects cows ability to produce milk, and is not detrimental in other ways to their health. It all revolves back to what perspective is being taken on the definition of progress.

One thought on “The impact of SEC (not the football conference)”

  1. Nice work on the post this week. The example that you use, the two different scientists that were studying cows, is a great example for the connection between science, empire, and capitalism. That it would be more likely that the scientist studying the disease would get the funds. Science doesn’t occur in a vacuum, and we should see it as such. The idea that it leads to progress is questionable, in many cases the connection leads to answers, but it doesn’t always lead to better. When asking what is the most ethical will always lead to more questions, thus scientists sometimes ignore it for the sake of the idea of progress and moving forward, as if there was some endgame for humanity. There is a subjectivity regarding progress, which you bring up quite nicely.

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