Thinking point: The Australian Attorney General, George Brandis has just declared that arguments for climate change are irrational and that those who assert it should take a lesson from Voltaire … http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/climate-change-proponents-using-mediaeval-tactics-george-brandis-20140418-zqwfc.html#ixzz2zDYtpzHx
Preface: This is a discussion paper, not a researched academic document. The reading list at the end is mostly a collection of contemporary links from the Internet and pretty accidental, not edited for quality. Where a topic is of broad general interest comes up with friends, I have adopted the practice of posting discussion starters like the present one on Academia.edu in the hope that others might also find them worth thinking about.
1. Islands of Reason and the deep blue sea between
When the sun rises each morning we may say the reason is that the earth on its elliptical orbit spins so that one point faces that star. Or we may say that the Sun God has mounted his chariot. Or we may say, after Ptolemy and the Christian elders until a few centuries ago, that the sun is moving around the earth. Take your pick. They have all seemed good reasons from reasonable men in their time. Our acceptance of what passes for reasoned argument has a great deal to do with the company we keep. Perhaps for most people, the word of accepted authority is the ultimate parameter on where those reasoned arguments may venture. Continue reading