Chapter 6: Quest for Moral Authority

The imperative of social engineering sought to recast human relations as a technical issue, the solution to which lay in the domain of science. John Dewey and other progressive commentators justified this approach on the ground that new technology and rapid change had created a world where people’s affairs were dominated by ‘remote and invisible organizations’ that were too complex to be apprehended by laymen.426 What followed from Dewey’s prognosis of mechanical forms of behaviour and interaction was the necessity for the project of human engineering. ‘The age of human engineering is with us’, declared one of Dewey’s supporters, who stated that ‘where it will take us no one may safely predict, but its ...

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