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What did the Advancement of Science have to do with Our

Liberty?

Brandon Caroprese

February 15, 2010

Taking a look back at the days when human life was described as
“brutish and short” really illustrates how drastically mankind has
progressed. No longer are we bounded by the metaphoric chains
of human’s mechanistic nature. The age of “war against all” no
longer accurately describes the way we live, most especially in
developed countries. The developing nations are still advancing as
well. But how did we come to overcome “the whips and scorns of
time” to arrive at the opportunity of living in the “pursuit of
happiness”?

This paradigm shift we have witnessed over the last 250 years
from the notion of humanity as fixed to that of autonomous
individuals is paralleled by scientific advancement. The ability to
experiment and question those who have come before us has
enabled mankind to build upon others’ findings. Without the work
of William Harvey, perhaps we would still believe in Aristotle’s
understanding of blood circulation. In that case, we would all
believe that there is a mysterious spirit within our blood that
carries it throughout the body. We would also believe that our
blood is miraculously absorbed into the heart rather than travelling
through individual ventricles. I am very thankful for Harvey’s
physiological findings as I underwent surgery to repair an Atrial
Septum Defect (ASD). This defect which has caused severe heart
trauma for adults is caused by a hole in one of the heart’s walls that
allows blood to seep in and out, just like Aristotle’s sponge.

Scientific experiment is the embodiment of freedom and autonomy.


Experimenting and the ability to doubt are antiauthoritarian in
nature. The freedom to research and to collaborate in a self-
correcting process of innovation creates the exact type of society
needed to harness the liberal capacity of capitalism and democracy.
Science allows members of society to debate and to test; it brings
out the best of our intentions by virtue of our conflicts and our
mimetic tendencies.

Past scientists helped to engineer the social make-up that


eventually led to the incorporation of liberty in daily life. Today’s
scientists continue to believe what was discovered before them, but
carefully choose not to falsely extol any findings. Rather, science
allows mankind to continually strive to do better than what already
has been achieved.

Human rights did not randomly appear. Property rights did not
come as a result of divine intervention. For the most part, it is the
scientists whom we ought to thank. Once they demonstrated the
ability to make successful advances, such as the discovery of
gravity and the creation of the light-bulb, the rest of society
realized the infinite ability to control one’s own fate. Their
discoveries were proof of man’s capabilities which needed to be
unleashed; denying such abilities is a crime against humanity. The
Unites States was built upon an accurate understanding of the need
to allow man to exercise such experimentation. The Constitution
is a testament to the experimental process and thereby guides
society towards progress. It is in the types of societies which lack
essential human rights that must continuously “bear the whips and
scorns” of human decadence.