Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

H1G3 Stoic Pragmatism in the Political World

First of all, sorry this is being posted so late/early! It's been a crazy week.

My group ended up discussing how Stoic Pragmatism could actually be applied to the real world, because that is what philosophy needs to remain relevant in today's world.

John Lachs wrote that "The United States would be a better nation if, in addition to a Council of Economic Advisors, it also had a Council of Ethics staffed by philosophers"(16).

My group agreed. If America had a Council of Ethics with thinking [wo]men on it, then perhaps our Congress would make more educated decision. At the moment, it seems as though politicians are only trying to do whatever they think will get them reelected without actually putting serious thought and research into their actions. In short, they don't have time to think.

Indeed, they don't have time to watch other's even share opinions! As Michele and I pointed out, if you ever watch Congress during  a "debate" there are rarely many people in the room--and even less that are paying attention to the speaker.

But in regards to how the principals of Stoic Pragmatism could be applied to real life, it's all about good politics! Trying to actively change the world while knowing when you need to stop or cross a boundary, and knowing what sacrifices/compromises must be made to get it done (and if it's worth it! Again... see the above Council of Ethics...), are all examples of stoic pragmatism.

In short, applying the Stoic Pragmatistic philosophy in politics is good for public policy--it's a sort of political compromise.

FQ: According to John Lachs, Philosophers are among the ________ people in the world. (cleverest)
DQ For Lachs Can stoic pragmatism be applied


  1. I like the Council of Ethics Idea. It could be very dangerous though. I think if it was done fairly, (one representative from each religion and moral belief group or something like that) nothing would get done. I feel like the people who would be most suited to be on a council of that nature would be the people that wouldn't run for the position. In the end, I think it may just turn into a justification for our government making the same sort of decisions it makes anyways.

    DQ: And who is anybody to decide what is ethical anyways?

  2. That was my concern, too, when I read about the Council of Ethics. There would be great potential for the Council, thoughtful as it may be, to become exactly like our current government: bickering over every decision. After all, philosophers are humans just like the rest of us, and people have different opinions.

    I think that's what the secular world has trouble deciding what is ethical. For me, Jesus Christ, who is constant, determines what is ethical. Those who do not believe in God do not have a foundation for what is ethical, so they turn, if not to themselves, to people like philosophers, whose beliefs and world views change over the years, diluting the potency of what they believe to be ethical.

  3. Seeking advice and council is always (well, almost always) a good idea. When we discussed this topic in class, it made me think back to when Dr. Oliver and some of his students (or was it a club?) met with MTSU's president to ask him to implement greener policies. His response was interesting. Though the ethics were important, he had more factors to consider when making his decision. We make decisions based upon what is important to us, and our government is no different.

    Keaton, I agree somewhat. If God doesn't set the standards, we have to. There's no one else to turn to. That's a bleak way of putting it; a humanist would find the idea liberating.
    However, I do think it's important to seek counsel, especially from people of different backgrounds and perspectives. And particularly when in leadership. You're right, Jesus lived out morality, but to say someone can have an exclusive, infallible understanding of what is true and right is incredibly dangerous.

    FQ: Which philosopher does John Lachs say influenced much of early pragmatism's understanding of history and the present? A: Hegel.
    DQ: How often do you make a decision with a pragmatic approach?

    1. I was expressly limiting the "exclusive, infallible understanding of what is true and right" to Jesus Christ alone.

      I also agree that it is important to seek counsel from others, because God gifts people with wisdom, but I don't think someone's advice should be taken as absolute truth. My point is that when there is no constant baseline to which to refer, that is when ethics gets a bit fuzzy.

  4. Well put, Nathan. Jesus may be a constant, but how you interpret him is obviously not. And I say obviously because just while biking around Murfreesboro I saw at least a dozen churches!

  5. Matthew...WELCOME TO THE BIBLE BELT!!! Ha ha, I really like the discussion going on; it seems as if the problem with the council of ethics is that there is no consent in America for what exactly is ethical. How do we define what is or isn't moral? I also believe that America is not ready to hear what most philosophers believe in regards to social and domestic policies; mainly because religion doesn't play a role in a philosophers decision making. On issues where people are most divided and are bitterly fighting to eradicate the other (religious convictions on issues such as homosexuality, abortion, etc.), people can't be rationally argued into seeing reason by a board of philosophers, they turn to their religion for their platform.

    Since there's already so much gray area in the field of ethics, a council would spend most of its time soly trying to hammer out what exactly ethics is for the American people. And for that matter, could we have a "code of ethics" ordained by a council that would apply to every American? Or would it be just a board of philosophers telling the President if his actions and laws were moral or not. In a weird way, it sounds like an unofficial version of the Supreme Court. One deals with unconstitutionality of laws, the other would deal with unethicality of laws.

    Overall, the idea sounds pleasing and logically makes sense; however, it's not pragmatic. It would be next to impossible to successfully propagate and utilize this board, and the intended purpose the board was engendered to carry out will be left undone: it's too big of a task.

    DQ:If it's so hard to pen down what ethics is for such a diverse nation as America, how do we create laws that are ethical for everyone without a board of philosophers to guide the legislating process and check for immorality?

    FQ: Which philosopher is openly for euthanasia?

    Thought this was interesting: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer