Friday, September 24, 2004

Questions, Daniel Bell

  1. How does the notion of "intellectual property" affect Bell's Chapter 6 claim that we are moving away from a system based on private control of property? Is it really who's holding onto the property that's changing (as Bell asserts), or is it what "property" is being held? Or both?

  2. "Clearly, when there is a change in the nature of the system, new groups come to power." This strikes me as a fundamental claim in the book, and frankly, I don't believe it; the New Overlords look an awful lot like the Old Overlords if you're female, non-white, or poor. What is there about the reproduction of social class through generations that Bell doesn't account for?

  3. There have been significant attacks on the notion of "rationality" in human psychology and sociology in the past five to ten years or so, from Tversky and Kahneman's Nobel-prize-winning lambasting of homo economicus (short summary: we don't always make the objectively "rational" economic choice for a variety of reasons), to the emergent-behavior and tipping-point models of idea diffusion, to the notion of quick-and-dirty "heuristics" rather than ponderously meticulous examination of options as a basis for decision-making. What do these challenges mean for Bell's assertions about the destiny of the rational technocrat?

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