It’s Only Natural: Analyzing the Role of Biased Knowledge in Science and Democracy

Tess Bloch-Horowitz

  • Isaac Isadore Madonna University


This paper examines the use of science in democratic society to guide moral and philosophical principles, and the resulting distribution of rights and resources. It explores the use of alleged natural differences to justify the denial of rights and resources on the basis of gender and race from early democracy to the twentieth century. To illustrate this trend, it draws on case studies including the historical examinations of anatomical and neurological differences between the races and sexes, and the laws and policies that both reflected and shaped these theories. It then evaluates activist efforts to counteract these biases and work towards equality. Finally, it explores the modern debate surrounding sex differences in the brain, and the ethical stakes it presents in light of these historical differences. On the basis of these examinations, it hypothesizes that in separating scientific theory acceptance from moral and political implications, and engaging in ethical debate around these implications, scientists, theorists, and politicians alike can promote equality while continuing to pursue scientific knowledge.