George Walford: Distinction

James Lovelock helps us to grasp the distinction between the two ideologies of Precision and Principle. He points out that the accuracy of predictions derived from them provides the best test of scientific hypotheses (Precision), while facts in law (Principle) are tested in debate between adversaries and established by judgment. He goes on to note that Principle exercises greater influence than precision: addition of an extra fact to the corpus of scientific knowledge hardly affects the Universe, but a new legal fact alters society from that moment forward. (Lovelock J. 1989 The Ages of Gaia; a biography of our living earth Oxford: UP 167)

from Ideological Commentary 54, Winter 1991.