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The axeman cometh

By Nigel Warburton   December 2009

What’s wrong with an independent scientific adviser telling the truth about the comparative dangerousness of drugs? Thanks to David Nutt, this question has been everywhere in the media. Truth can be inconvenient. But no scientist with integrity ever knowingly distorts it. At the point where scientific advisers match evidence-based views to political agendas, they cease to be scientists.

Philosophy can be a demanding discipline too. Kant, for example, took a hard line on truth-telling. If a crazed axeman comes to the door asking where your best friend is, Kant argued that you should tell him. For Kant, your duty to…

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