10.14.2009

I Will Choose Free Will

I read David Brooks' latest column celebrating research in neuroscience and its applications in the social sciences.  Brooks notes, rather optimistically, the possible fruits of those labors:

It could also fill a hole in our understanding of ourselves. Economists, political scientists and policy makers treat humans as ultrarational creatures because they can’t define and systematize the emotions. This work is getting us closer to that.

I recognize that we humans have highly irrational aspects to our personas.  Yet I couldn't help but wonder, as Brooks applauded the march of neuroscience into the social sciences...toward systematization...toward use as a justification for policies by the government:

Even if social science begins to see people in their full rational/irrational glory, the state and its public policies must  nevertheless continue to treat individuals as if they were rational actors, in some sense, in order for a self-governing society to function, right?