Getting Past False Dichotomies: Technocratic Humanists Exist!

Most people enjoy a good fight; some prefer bare-knuckle brawls while others want to see a verbal lashing that causes an audible, collective cringe. Those of us who follow development eagerly await the next Twitter barrage between development economists like Jeffrey Sachs and Bill Easterly.
And, because people tire easily of old battlefields, they are on a constant search to find a new one – even if it’s a false plane, more virtual than reality. The latest battlefield is between the “technocrats and humanists,” as Hugh Roberts describes it at the Guardian PovertyMatters blog. It’s Bill Gates vs. Amartya Sen; the technocratic robot accountants vs. the humanistic touchy-feelies.
That doesn’t feel right, though; it seems a false dichotomy, one that muddies, rather than clears, the waters. It’s a little like the “Trade Not Aid” debate in how it ignores the overlap between two things, when really the overlap is where the most interesting – and most important – work occurs.
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