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2D: Pragmatism

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 5 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 5 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

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!

This 2,009th post was filed under: 2D, , , .

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd December 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd November 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th October 2018)

Photo-a-day 203: Ex-Rock (published 21st July 2012)

British donations top £32m mark (published 31st December 2004)

Choose your own NHS adventure (published 1st February 2007)

Royal family caught up in Nazi row (published 13th January 2005)


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