Lawrence Summers: We have an administration [i.e. the George W. Bush administration] that takes pride in the fact that its policies are based on faith and conviction rather than reason and evidence. In a very different corner, in large parts of the academic world, the parts of the academic world that would almost define themselves by the opposition to what the administration stands for, there’s a belief that truth is an arbitrary social construct, or a reflection of power relations rather than reality. And the great virtue of debate is respect for each other’s positions.
And I have very much the opposite sense. The great virtue of debate is to understand it better, and you come closer to a better answer.
Recorded on: June 2007.