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  1. The recent nuclear deal with Iran is the most recent and clear example of the philosophy of pragmatism. What US negotiators did, was separate out the idea of Iran's nuclear ambitions from all other aspects of the character of Iran's leaders since this country became a theological dictatorship. For pragmatists, the facts of Iran's lies, duplicity, and violent statements of ultimate intent are not important considerations in the light of a possible wedge in Iran's nuclear ambitions. If you ignore principles, ignore recent history, you can arrive at the view that, regardless of all other knowledge, it makes sense to enter a nuclear agreement with Iran. You are pragmatically raising the fear of nuclear consequences above other knowledge - your knowledge that Iran doesn't honor treaties and that Iran specifies their goal of punishing Israel and the US has no reality in the context of the nuclear fear to politics and politicians grounded in pragmatism. What will Iran do with the windfall of resources released after the financial embargo? They are the major source of funding for radical Pseudo-Islamic terrorism - what do you think they will do? More importantly, what is to become of a nation (the US) when the citizens generally don't see the clear truth of cause and effect in the pragmatic decisions of their leaders? The most dangerous aspect of this current event is not Iran, it is the pragmatist philosophy at the basis of a treaty with an entity you know will not honor the agreement. And the citizens go about their lives.
  2. As I have openly noted in previous posts, I am an admirer of Ayn Rand but not an Objectivist. I tend to lean more toward Pragmatism. The most common objection to Pragmatism is that it is unprincipled. This is not an unfair criticism since pragmatism (little 'p') is a widely used (and abused) term in popular discourse often meaning the adoption of a position based on the immediate expediency. But Pragmatism (big 'P') is a more formal concept and not at all contradictory to principle. However, there is a second criticism of Pragmatism that, I think, is more accurate: Pragmatism cannot but used to discover values. Pragmatism, simply stated, is the belief/claim that a statement or theory is true if and only if it is useful. A statement or theory is useful if it helps you realize your values. So, of course, the Pragmatic test rests on previously established values. Trying to use Pragmatism to discover values leads to a circularity. I appreciate that Rand attempted to ground values in objective reality but I am not at all convinced that she succeeded. (And I fully expect to be stoned for that statement.) A popular alternative is to say that values are varied and given, not universal truths. Thus, for example, one person may value equality while another values freedom. And there certainly at least seems to be a good deal of truth in that as a matter of observation. Of course, an Objectivist would answer that those who value equality over freedom are wrong. What I am wondering is whether there is something here that could be tested empirically. Is any concept of value falsifiable? I can imagine several possibilities but before I do I'd like to point to our own value profile instrument: http://www.conquistador.org/qvalue It's not at all scientifically constructed but one might image doing something more rigorous and testing various values hypotheses. While you can't test varied and given vs. wrong, you might test value before and after an Objectivist education. If values can be changed by exposure to Objectivist ideas that would imply that they are not intrinsic but discovered. What do you think?
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