For this 2D post, I’ve chosen to present two different points of view about pragmatism.
In Prospect, Alex Worsnip sets out his position that “‘pragmatism’ means sacrificing moral aspirations for something else” – and that the “something else” might not be all that desirable. In politics, he argues, pragmatism is nothing more than a technique for presenting an argument which defies dissent. At least with ideology, there is something to argue against.
In The Global Mail, Eric Ellis takes the argument about pragmatism away from the purely philosophical and into the physical present, looking at the Dutch approach to climate change. When much of your country lies below sea level, there’s little point debating the ideology of climate change – the only pragmatic course is to act. This has lead to the extraordinary position of virtual unanimity between politicians of all colours and the population at large over spending hundreds of billions of dollars on tackling the problem. Perhaps if people could be convinced to be a little more pragmatic over other politic issues the world over, then we’d be able to achieve far more.
I really like both of these articles, and the combination of the two has made me think a bit differently about pragmatism. Previously, I’d thought of it as a benign way to reach an end result. Now, I see far more clearly both the power and the danger of defaulting to pragmatism.
I hope you enjoy giving them a read!
2D posts appear on alternate Wednesdays. For 2D, I pick two interesting articles that look at an issue from two different – though not necessarily opposing – perspectives. I hope you enjoy them!