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Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 30, 1987

Science and Ethics

Hilary Putnam
Pages 43-51

Scientific Liberty and Scientific Licence

There are old and convincing arguments for intellectual liberty in all of its forms — freedom to think, to speak, to publish — based on assumptions that we who have been brought up in Western democratic countries take for granted. Two major arguments are particularly powerful. The first I shall call the Utilitarian argument which, in its simplest form, says that without intellectual liberty any Party and any government will harden into an exploiting class, a tyranny. The Kantian argument is that, quite apart from its value to society, intellectual liberty — Kant calls it autonomy — is absolutely indispensable to the integrity of the person. In this paper I defend the Kantian approach. The philosophical-epistemological question "How do you know autonomy is a good thing?" remains unanswered. No further foundation can be given.

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