Alasdair MacIntyre claims that new dark ages are impending

Alasdair MacIntyre

  • Western Political Thought in the Face of the Future by John Dunn
    Cambridge, 120 pp, £8.50

A few years ago there was a vogue in the social sciences for a certain type of real-life experiment. Experimental subjects were, for example, coached to exhibit the symptoms of psychiatric disorders and then presented themselves for admission to mental hospitals: could the psychiatrists tell which were the fake patients and which were the real ones? Some school-teachers were falsely informed that certain of their new pupils had high IQ scores: could the teachers tell which were the children with genuinely high scores from those about whom the information was false, what was the effect on their treatment of the children, and more important, the effect on the children? A skilled actor pretended to be a visiting professor and delivered a lecture on a subject of which he knew nothing and his academic audience was invited to evaluate it, to see if they could tell nonsense from sense in a subject other than their own.

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