Principle & Pragmatism

I know I have laden much of what I have written so far with the philosophical. I do not intend for the entirety of this blog to continue in that way.

Nevertheless, to merely argue for or against something on pragmatic grounds without principled underpinnings is, to me, sorely lacking.

There are two approaches that can be taken in many arguments:is-it-right

  • What works? This is the pragmatic argument. Often times, this will be called the utilitarian argument, whereby something is judged by its usefulness or effectiveness.
  • What is right? This is the principled or ethical argument.

But what happens if the answer to one is misaligned with the answer to the other?

I may say that the government shouldn’t take people’s stuff (aka, tax) on the grounds of principle, but you may argue that it is necessary in order for the government to provide even the most basic functions. I might have won the argument on principle, but it will be a tough sell to many, who would think I am ridiculous because of how impractical it would be to have no tax revenue going to the government.

At its extreme, people who are ultimately utilitarian in their views see anything that produces their desired results as justified in its own right. In simpler terms, the ends justify the means. Principle is built on usefulness, regardless of how subjective that end is.

Quite frankly, there is no end to the terrible implications this might garner. Even the libertarian who says they are for the cause of liberty on the grounds that everyone would be better off, but that the basic principles I have laid out are far too impractical, has embraced relativism. If utility (usefulness) lays the ground for principle, then Hitler was justified in his treatment of the Jews and other unwanted groups within Germany.

No, principle cannot follow usefulness. Without principle, all you get is relativism. Principle is what anchors any argument and position.

Okay, before you abandon me to what you think might be continued philosophical wanderings, let me tell you: this blog will largely be rooted in showing how the ideas of liberty provide for greater blessings and benefits than a sacrifice of their fundamental principles.

Do we really need government to tax income? Or even products we buy? (Surely, now you must think I am mad! Stick around to see!)

Do we really need a Federal Reserve to try and steer the economy in the way they want it to go? Should the government really be in control of money and/or fiat currency at all?

Do we even need the government to build our roads? (“And now he’s totally lost it.” Just wait. Admit it: you’re intrigued.)

Much of this blog will be dedicated to these and related topics. What are the practical–the pragmatic–implications of liberty? Can the fruit of principle truly bring blessing? To what extent?

Though it probably goes without saying, this blog is not making me any money. Perhaps one day, I might be able to find supporters for it, but if I truly wanted it to be a source of income, I’d be better off writing the stuff of the gossip magazines, and discussing how Brad and Angelina are breaking up. A little speculation of what our glamour stars are up to may get me a larger fan base.

I write because I truly believe I must be accountable to teach what is truth. Recall what I wrote in my first post: it is my passion to continue learning that I may better teach, and to continue teaching that I may continue to learn. I, too, am learning and attempting to channel that learning into a source for others. I would challenge you to stick with me as we move on beyond the foundations.

I will stay true to principle. There is no other anchor, and it all must be rooted there. But beyond that, I will seek to bring light to politics, economics, finances and history in clear and pragmatic ways. Thank you for joining me, and I would challenge you once more to stay.


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