Science Authoritative by Opinion


Emile Durkheim in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (The Free Press, 1995), 210: ‘Opinion, eminently a social thing, is one source of authority. Indeed, the question arises whether authority is not the daughter of opinion. Some will object that science is often the antagonist of opinion, the errors of which it combats and corrects. But science can succeed in this task only if it has sufficient authority, and it can gain such authority only from opinion itself. All the scientific demonstrations in the world would have no influence if a people had no faith in science. Even today, if it should happen that science resisted a very powerful current of public opinion, it would run the risk of seeing its credibility eroded.’

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