Science and Liberty: Patient Confidence in the Ultimate Justice of the People

by John L. Cordani Jr. (Cornell University)

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Mr. Cordani's book is a must-read for all who value the mystique associated with American democratic ideals. He takes the reader on a stroll through the ages, exploring the history, politics, science, and philosophy that enabled our nation to develop into what it is today.
Mr. Cordani makes a cogent case in support of his thesis that our Founding Fathers had high hopes that the collective common sense of ordinary citizens would sustain American values. He asserts that so-called experts,
bureaucrats, and political hacks serve to cloud the common sense of "we the people".
As our country moves from a "Trust in God" mentality to a more secular one that underscores "Trust in Science", Mr. Cordani cautions the reader on how scientific experts may lead ordinary citizens, while perhaps well-intentioned down a wrong path that contravenes their common sense.
He concludes that scientific experts have caused the criminal justice pendulum to swing away from natural law mandates supporting retribution for the crime, instead focusing on rehabilitation of the crime's perpetrator.
If you believe in the concept of free will, the case in favor of retribution for the crime under the natural law is pretty straightforward.
Even if you believe that free will is a myth, as did Justice Holmes and does Sam Harris, Mr. Cordani deftly argues that the arc of justice even for them is in urgent need of a re-set.
This book is a must-read for all who value our American democracy, experts and non-experts alike.

Dale L. Carlson
Distinguished Practitioner-in-Residence, IP Law
Director of the Intellectual Property Law Concentration
Quinnipiac University School of Law

One of the most debated topics in law and politics is the role that science should play in setting policy. What does it mean to demand that politicians and the People themselves “follow the science” if science deals with questions of fact, not matters of moral or political values? This long-standing controversy has roots ranging from Plato’s philosopher-kings to Enlightenment skepticism to modern progressivism and the rise of the administrative state. ‘Science and Liberty’ explores the idea that a constitutional republic provides a fitting role for science while preserving the People’s liberty and right to self-government. It examines this topic from five perspectives: American, Historical, Philosophical, Scientific, and Moral.

Providing direct access to primary historical sources, ‘Science and Liberty’ contends that America’s founders designed a constitution that was predicated on the Enlightenment theory that liberty precedes government and that presupposed the engagement of the People and their representatives at all levels of free debate. Early twentieth-century progressivism was openly hostile to these founding principles in its desire for efficient rule by scientific administrators.

However, it is impossible to philosophically ground political and moral values in the findings of science, despite what modern theorists claim. Ultimately, the injunction to “follow the science” demands to substitute the values of “experts” for the values of the People themselves. By illustrating numerous examples from the hard and social sciences, ranging from physics to Biblical criticism to climate science, this book also explains that the People have a role to play in reasonably engaging with and critiquing modern science.

‘Science and Liberty’ will appeal to those interested in a variety of subjects, including law, politics, philosophy, and intellectual history, as well as scientific criticism, particularly from an American perspective. It is written to be accessible for all ages while also engaging with complex issues and sources relevant for those with advanced degrees.

1. Introduction

2. Founding Principles

3. The Rule of Scientists

4. The Excellent Servant and the Terrible Master

5. The False Idols

6. Ideology Fills the Vacuum

7. Conclusion: Science and Liberty



John L. Cordani Jr. obtained degrees in Chemistry and Philosophy from Cornell University. Before attending Cornell Law School, he worked as a chemist and was named an inventor on two issued United States patents. His academic work has been published in the ‘Cornell Law Review’, the ‘American Intellectual Property Law Association Quarterly’, the ‘Connecticut Law Tribune’, and ‘IP Watchdog’. John is a practising trial lawyer specializing in patent litigation. In addition, he serves as an adjunct professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law, where he teaches a course on patent litigation.

follow the science, Constitution, liberty, Sam Harris, Steven Pinker, eugenics, Milgram, Federalist Papers, Administrative State, Woodrow Wilson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Enlightenment, Romanticism, French Revolution, philosopher-kings, democracy, physics, biblical criticism, climate, vaccine

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Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Science and Liberty: Patient Confidence in the Ultimate Justice of the People





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm

Publication date
January 2022