More IHS seminar blogging: Steve Horwitz on James Taylor’s discussion of Mill’s stand on free speech as a discovery process. Free speech is essential to liberty and to the good life because no one has a monopoly on the truth. Nor, would I add, can anyone claim to know the truth in a proven, non-falsifiable way (yes, I’m an old Popperian).
I also like the twist that Steve added on Darwin and evolution:
I think this same argument can be extended to Darwinian evolution as well. Evolution via natural selection is a very similar sort of discovery process as markets and free speech. The implied vision of human natural and social life as being an interconnected set of evolutionary discovery processes is, for me, quite inspiring. We are all connected in our biological, social, economic, and intellectual evolution by similar sorts of discovery processes.
This idea goes back at least as far as Adam Smith, with whose work Darwin was quite familiar. I actually spent some time a couple of weeks ago looking for explicit proof in Darwin’s journals that the folk legend is true, that he formulated the idea of natural selection on the Beagle while reading Smith. If anyone has a reference for me on that point, I’d appreciate it.