"Too often quoting authority leads to questioning credentials (as we have seen) and obscuring the real issues. It's a waste of mental energy. I'd rather deal with arguments themselves."
My first instinctive response was to agree wholeheartedly. I associate authority with church dogma, bureaucratic red tape, and conservative principles. Incidentally, I don’t understand how you can claim to be a conservative if you don’t accept the cultural authority of the past?
But then I looked at my own work and realized that I could get nowhere without relying on authorities. It would be totally impractical if a scientist had to start every data collection and argument from scratch and could not accept the authority of historical data, mathematical proofs and foundational principles of predecessors.
Even Newton said he was standing on the shoulders of giants. Doesn’t our entire culture stand on the shoulders of giants? A person who does not accept any authority is simply an anarchist. I sometime think anarchy is worth a try, but then I would not call myself a conservative.