Principles vs Pragmatism

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Nick_A
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:52 am

Logik
I think we are getting bogged down in interpretation.

Yes, I live by principles. The principle of pragmatism.

There is a distinction to be drawn though.
I live by principles but I do not enslaved myself to them. You could say that “fuck principles” is my principle.

The difference is that one set of principles produce dogmatic rituals, and another set of principles (goals? Objectives?) produces “whatever it takes” adaptive mindset.

Consequentialism vs deontology.

My principle is “whatever works!”, and dying seems to go against my definition of “works”.

As far as role models go - I am much more fond of Kolmogorov. https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=3376

Science needs no martyrs.
Your ideal seems to be your pragmatic interests or what serves yourself. The value of doing for others for the sake of others would be a meaningless principle for you. Whatever works must include what works for you as a priority. If your ideal is your self, then the principles you value must have the ideal of serving your self as you understand your self. Is this true?

Nick_A
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:05 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:02 am
Pragmatism is superior to idealism / ideology because as its name suggests it actually works which is why I am one
The fundamental trouble with idealism / ideology is that it cannot contradict reality for reality is literally what is

Socrates knew he was going to die but it did not bother him so far from being an idiot he was in charge of his destiny
No one lives forever and so to be in control of the manner of your passing given it is inevitable is the best you can do
Would you agree that if a person has the ideal of being a concert pianist the necessity of practice as opposed to avoiding it would be a necessary principle?

If a society has an ideal, would you agree that its citizens should support the pinciples which sustain it? Would you also agree that if one person doesn't support them, there will be no difference? What should a person do? Should they support the essential principle or ignore them in favor of temporary pragmatic concerns?

surreptitious57
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by surreptitious57 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:50 am

Nick wrote:
If a society has an ideal would you agree that its citizens should support the principles which sustain it ? Would you also agree that if one person
doesnt support them there will be no difference ? What should a person do ? Should they support the essential principle or ignore them in favour
of temporary pragmatic concerns ?
Citizens should not be compelled to support the principles that sustain society long as they are not actually harming anyone
Everyone must be free to decide for them selves according to their conscience whether they favour principle or pragmatism
There is no reason why they always have to be opposites and it should be possible at least in part for them to be compatible

Judaka
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Judaka » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:55 am

Nick_A

Perhaps I wasn't explicit enough in what I'm saying, your OP is not providing an example of principles vs pragmatism, it's providing alternative interpretations to perspectives from a pragmatic framework. It is not idealistic to vote, it's pragmatic to upon realising that if you and others who share your beliefs didn't vote then that which you don't wish to happen will happen, you realise you should vote. There's nothing idealistic about this idea, it's pragmatic. The idea that your time is better spent doing something other than voting may also be pragmatic because you don't care about the outcome. because your vote won't matter or the outcome you wish for will occur without your help, therefore helping would be redundant and a waste of your time.

You cannot take the concept of principles and stack them up against pragmatism since pragmatism relies on principles to function. What your OP shows is the problem of conflicting valid arguments where the only difference is interpretation. A better question to your problem isn't principles vs pragmatism but from a pragmatic perspective what's the best choice, from the perspective of my ideals what's the best choice?

There are some ways to reconcile interpretations but it's possible that they cannot be reconciled.
1. Question the validity of the interpretation
2. Question whether the truth of the premises in your interpretation
3. Interpret the various interpretations using a new framework like a value or desired result

Alternative interpretations give rises to contradictions even when the interpretations themselves are both true.

I don't really think contradictions in matters that are completely subjective are noteworthy. If I say a show is both amazing and terrible, it's not a contradiction, I'm saying that there are amazing and terrible aspects, I'm saying part of me thinks its amazing and part terrible. I'm saying that the it met some of my standards and failed others or whatever else. I can love and hate my father, I can want to protect strangers while also wanting to protect myself and when helping strangers means endangering myself and what am I supposed to do then?

Technically, they're contradictions, however, we don't need to reconcile anything, we don't need to untie the knot. The only question is what you will prioritise when it comes to making decisions, judgements and developing understanding. The true answer is the valid answer with valid premises, there's no way to call one answer better than the other without creating a subjective framework and creating an answer which is "true only for you".

Nick_A
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Nick_A » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:03 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:50 am
Nick wrote:
If a society has an ideal would you agree that its citizens should support the principles which sustain it ? Would you also agree that if one person
doesnt support them there will be no difference ? What should a person do ? Should they support the essential principle or ignore them in favour
of temporary pragmatic concerns ?
Citizens should not be compelled to support the principles that sustain society long as they are not actually harming anyone
Everyone must be free to decide for them selves according to their conscience whether they favour principle or pragmatism
There is no reason why they always have to be opposites and it should be possible at least in part for them to be compatible
If a person agrees with a principle as a necessary societal good, is it compatible with the idea of ignoring it in favor of a personal pragmatic good which ignores the societal good they agreed with? Are they equally good?

surreptitious57
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by surreptitious57 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:09 am

Judaka wrote:
You cannot take the concept of principles and stack them up against pragmatism since pragmatism relies on principles to function
Were this true then there would never be any conflict between them. But there is and the reason for it is that principles have no
bearing at all on pragmatism which is only concerned with what works. Whether it is also morally acceptable is of zero relevance

surreptitious57
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by surreptitious57 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:22 am

Nick wrote:
If a person agrees with a principle as a necessary societal good is it compatible with the idea of ignoring it in
favor of a personal pragmatic good which ignores the societal good they agreed with ? Are they equally good ?
No it is not compatible but as long as no harm is being done then it should be permitted and actually
it would have to be because human beings do this all of the time [ favour pragmatism over principle ]

Logik
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:57 am

Nick_A wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:52 am
Your ideal seems to be your pragmatic interests or what serves yourself.
You are still playing the (mis)interpretation game. I don't exist in a vacuum. I am part of a family, community, city, country, society.
What I do has an effect at each of those levels.
Nick_A wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:52 am
The value of doing for others for the sake of others would be a meaningless principle for you.
It would be meaningless because it would be entirely hypothetical.

You are still trying to put things into little boxes and reason about my interactions with others in a vacuum.

I can never do something ONLY for others' sake because helping others gives me pleasure and makes me happy.
Serotonin and dopamine. Evolution took care of this.

In general, in all systems of complex interactions you can never do just one thing. There are 1st, 2nd and Nth order effects, side-effects and counter-effects. You aren't taking those into account.

Nick_A wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:52 am
Whatever works must include what works for you as a priority
No. As a priority it must work for me, and for my family, and for my community, and for my city, and for my country, and for my society.

But if such a synergy is impossible it must work for me, while it causes no harm at the other layers.
Nick_A wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 4:52 am
If your ideal is your self, then the principles you value must have the ideal of serving your self as you understand your self. Is this true?
It's not quite true.. The principle is "Primum non nocere", but what I find harmful may not be the same as what others may find harmful.

Where I don't understand another person I rely on my understanding of self and reciprocity as baseline for predicting what "harm" is, where I do understand another person I don't need to guess. If people don't like something you are doing - they usually tell you...


But at the end of the day, does my intention/reason for doing something really matter (and to whom?) if the outcome is exactly the same?
Last edited by Logik on Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

Judaka
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Judaka » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:12 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:09 am
Judaka wrote:
You cannot take the concept of principles and stack them up against pragmatism since pragmatism relies on principles to function
Were this true then there would never be any conflict between them. But there is and the reason for it is that principles have no
bearing at all on pragmatism which is only concerned with what works. Whether it is also morally acceptable is of zero relevance
I think we are talking cross definitions here. Here's the definition I offered for principles:
"a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning."

I am not thinking that principles in this context have anything to do with morality. The point is that pragmaticism isn't merely concerned with "what works" but rather it's an approach to theories, beliefs, principles, ideals and so on from the perspective of what is gained. What's the point of thinking about what is gained without knowing what it means to gain in the first place? How can you evaluate an idea by what it gives you if you don't know what could be given and how "good" the possibilities are relative to each other? You need principles/values/truths to assist you in doing these things.

Now if Nick_A is using principles to mean moral principles then that needs to be clarified but I didn't think this was the case.. Naturally, morality and pragmatism often stand in opposition to each other. The moral obligation to vote versus the pragmatic realisation that your vote is probably inconsequential is another possible interpretation of this thread. If you asserted it really was a moral obligation that compels you and not a practical approach of "if people like me and I don't vote then this will cause an outcome I don't like therefore I should vote" then much of what I've said is invalid.

It is still misleading to compare principles against pragmatism since you're merely comparing different principles against principles (including the ones used in pragmatism) but it's just a problem of imprecise language.

Logik
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:42 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:09 am
Were this true then there would never be any conflict between them. But there is and the reason for it is that principles have no
bearing at all on pragmatism which is only concerned with what works. Whether it is also morally acceptable is of zero relevance
This boils down to delineating your criteria for success and failure. What you define as a "working" and "not-working". Your values.

You get to choose whether moral failures go in the "working" or "not-working" column.

Logik
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:51 am

Judaka wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 7:12 am
"a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning."

I am not thinking that principles in this context have anything to do with morality.
The distinction between systems of behaviour and systems of morality is artificial.

From an analytic perspective all systems are made up of rules which define what "correct" and "incorrect" behaviour/thought/reasoning/interaction means. Error means rule-violation.

Go ahead and provide a convincing argument for why we should build systems to prevent/minimise errors and see if you will come up with anything other than a moral argument.

surreptitious57
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by surreptitious57 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:00 am

Logic wrote:
You get to choose whether moral failures go in the working or not working column
Moral failure is in the not working column because with hindsight it would not have actually happened
This is however an eternal work in progress because it is based entirely upon subjective interpretation

Also regret can occur for things beyond ones control which is not really moral failure as there was no alternative

Logik
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:05 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 3:47 am
The failure may have been in wanting to die and after failing you then decide
that you actually want to live instead and so therefore choose life over death
Then maybe Socrates should've failed at suicide before committing to a one-way decision...

Logik
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by Logik » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:06 am

surreptitious57 wrote:
Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:00 am
Moral failure is in the not working column because with hindsight it would not have actually happened
This is however an eternal work in progress because it is based entirely upon subjective interpretation

Also regret can occur for things beyond ones control which is not really moral failure as there was no alternative
Welcome to the human condition. It is eternal work in progress. Until it isn't.

You will notice that some of the interpretations (common laws against murder, theft etc.) have been with us for a very long time and nobody seems to mis-interpret their meaning. And yet - we still have judges and magistrates to plug the (mis)interpretation loophole with.

surreptitious57
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Re: Principles vs Pragmatism

Post by surreptitious57 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 8:22 am

Logic wrote:
You will notice that some of the interpretations ( common laws against murder and theft etc ) have been with us for a very long time and
nobody seems to mis interpret their meaning . And yet - we still have judges and magistrates to plug the ( mis ) interpretation loophole with
Judges and magistrates are only human and so by the laws of averages will get it wrong from time to time
Juries get it wrong for the same reason so never expect an infallible success rate as that is just impossible

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