I'm Brazilian and I'm not aware of any political system where politicians have to justify the bill they're proposing, so, this might be some trivial stuff out there.

Let's suppose you're required to back up your proposition with studies and results expected.

1) How would that change the incentives regarding the dynamics on voting inside Congress?
2) Can this affect how public policies are assessed?

Example: Congressman John Doe wants to change the regulation regarding drinking and driving. People treated by public hospitals with injuries due to driving drunk will have to pay for the their treatment. He must present studies to support his ideas and long term results expected with that change.

How can one investigate (literature) further on this being a good incentive on bills overall quality? No justification is better than forcing people to present their thoughts on the outcomes of their proposition?

  • Is your question about "what would happen" or "How to investigate further"? Those are both already pretty broad questions, and putting the two into one post makes it even broader
    – katatahito
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 4:20
  • I have improved the question a little and narrowed to Brazil, otherwise it is way too broad (it might worth asking about US though since there many users familiar with US politics). I am not really happy with the question itself as it invites to speculation, but I cannot focus right now to get it right. Maybe someone else can find a better phrasing, as this is an interesting idea and it deserves an answer.
    – Alexei
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 4:56
  • I've added more info about the question. Hope it is clearer now. Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 12:59
  • I've edited the title of the question. Please note that we generally don't ask questions on this website about what someone "should" do, because that's asking for personal opinions. We only allow questions which can be asked objectively.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 13:16
  • I think one component which is missing from this question is who decides whether or not the reasoning and evidence attached to a proposal is "good enough" and has the right to reject a proposal when they consider the evidence to be lacking.
    – Philipp
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 13:24

2 Answers 2


Immediate and bitter partisan debate about the validity of the science. Who gets to judge the validity of those studies?

  • You will find people who argue that the world is only a few thousand years old.
  • People argue against human impact on climate change.
  • For that matter, look how long there were people denying the link between tobacco and cancer.

Depending on what they say and how, some of these people are scientists. After all, it is good science to challenge "established wisdom" with new data.

  • +1 bc recognizing that modern science is not fully objective is important. I would say that those in power -and their supporters - consider what evidence they currently use to justify their actions to be sufficient enough.
    – katatahito
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 6:40
  • 2
    @katatahito, science is not fully objective, but not entirely subjective, either. In many countries criminal justice uses a standard of "beyond reasonable doubt." So does a pesticide have to be shown beyound reasonable doubt to be harmful to ban it, or does it have to be shown to be harmless beyond reasonable doubt to permit it? Or some standard in between? And do you simply go by counting studies ("98% of scientists in the field say so") or do you look at who funded the studies, etc.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 7:12
  • @o.m. - Concerning the link between tobacco and cancer, what link would that be? And why should it be accepted?
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 11:16
  • @RickSmith, if that is a serious question, the Wikipedia entry would be a good start. If not, it makes my point re the politicization of science.
    – o.m.
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 13:51
  • @o.m. - It's politics, but from my perspective it's more politics than science. It began with trying to prove post hoc ergo propter hoc by asking the question: How does smoking cause cancer?. The result after decades of research is: It causes cancer because we told you so. The broader, open question is: Why does cancer occur in those who smoke?. That requires more surveys and research, with possibly, a different conclusion. But, I don't deny any relation, I dispute the explanation. However, you may take this as there are still people denying the link ....
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 16:33

There would be no difference at all.

Firstly, you can find or conjure up a study that proves nearly anything, especially in the “social sciences” where observations are difficult to make. When an issue is politically charged, there are academics working at think tanks and who often do this anyway without the sort of requirement you are suggesting.

Secondly, the vast majority of political issues involve moral questions or trade-offs between opposing viewpoints that cannot be objectively settled by scientific discovery.

As an example, here is a short list of political questions that science cannot answer:

  • Should abortion be legal?
  • Should we go to war with Iran?
  • Should rich people pay more in taxes than poor people?
  • Is unrestricted freedom of speech worth the harm it seems to cause some people in our society?

Science might be able to inform us about aspects of these things, but it cannot answer those questions for us because they are not empirical questions. We might be able to use the answers to empirical questions about fetuses to reach some sort of value judgement on abortion, but we still have to make some kind of value judgement on it and that’s the sort of thing you cannot usually prove the correctness of in advance with a study.

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