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9
12
Idealism Pragmatism
Debate Score:21
Arguments:10
Total Votes:22
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 Idealism (4)
 
 Pragmatism (6)

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When in conflict, should idealism be valued over pragmatism?

Which is better?

Idealism

Side Score: 9
VS.

Pragmatism

Side Score: 12
4 points

Although many would argue that pragmatism gets you farther than idealism, idealism does have its pros.

- Succeeding ideologically is more "glorious." For example, a candidate who refrains from mudslinging is praised.

- Being pragmatic tells others that you yourself don't value your ideal very highly.

- Nothing beats an undivided mind. Being pragmatic brings in self-conflict, as you struggle between cutting corners and staying true to your convictions.

- Ideals provide a unmoving holdfast to safeguard you against compromises. For example, if you become pragmatic enough, you can justify almost anything, such as euthanasia and infanticide. Idealism prevents you from that.

In essence, pragmatism can pay off in the short run, yet have severe consequences in the long run.

Side: Idealism
BMud(73) Disputed
2 points

Idealist:

Someone guided more by ideals than by practical considerations

Pragmatist:

A person who takes a practical approach to problems and is concerned primarily with the success or failure of her actions

The exact question asked is - "When in conflict, should idealism be valued over pragmatism?". A thoughtful consideration must begin with another question: "What is the nature of the conflict?".

If the consequences of the conflict are relatively unimportant (should I snack on some raw fruits and vegetables or should I satisfy my mild hunger by eating a hot dog?), then it probably matters very little if I solve the conflict with the idealism of "what's good for me" or the pragmatism of "what's readily available".

If the conflict involves a matter of life or death (should I support a presidential candidate who believes that a show of military might is the right response to most international disputes, or should I cast my vote for a candidate who believes that diplomacy is the better approach?), then the choice between idealism and pragmatism is certainly more important.

Of course, there are a range of conflicts that fall somewhere in between the trivial and the dire.

I would argue that, as the consequences of the choice between idealism and pragmatism become more crucial, the more important it is to be able to temper idealism with pragmatism. I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. I believe that the best problem solvers are those who are both noble-minded (idealists) AND realists (pragmatists). If there are important issues that need to be resolved, we are more likely to implement successful solutions if we start with the idealistic approach of "what is the right thing to do" and then realistically consider "how to get it done".

It seems to me: that the "Pure Idealist" (if there is such a creature) would rarely accomplish much - Utopia only exists in our minds, and the "Pure Pragmatist" represents a potential drastic threat - the ends do NOT always justify the means.

Side: a better approach

There is nothing written in stone that tells us idealism cannot be mixed with pragmatism. As a matter of fact I deal in this way all the time and much to my success, I believe. I do not see this as an either/or situation.

As always, one must keep their eye on the prize. In whatever conflict there might be there is a goal or two! One cannot simply use the steamroller approach and run others over just because it may be practical to do so. That would be a conflict in and of itself to my way of thinking. Practicality has its uses and its rewards but so does idealism and the greater good, I believe is in the mixture of the two. The two must also ebb and flow within the mixture especially when the conflict involves others. If the goal is enormous, again, all the more reason to look at the consequences of the pragmatic approach and the idealistic.

Pragmatism can be valued if undertaken carefully and with great thought and that's when idealism can soften and sometime diffuse a further situation. Idealism is not as valued as it should be or as you might think. In life I have witnessed the pragmatic to be somewhat more valued and therefore more often used but not without consequence. Take any situation you can think of and work it through with a friend or a teacher or anyone who might be interested in doing such an exercise and give the pragmatic a dash of the idealistic. Watch how it changes or solidifies the outcome.

Side: Both are equally valuable in tandem
1 point

Defining 'idealism' as "The act or practice of envisioning things in an ideal form" given by the American Heritage Dictionary and 'pragmatism' as "A method of understanding facts and events in terms of cause and effect, and of inferring practical lessons or conclusions from this process," from the Oxford English Dictionary, the two don't necessarily come into conflict.

However, this debate is focusing on when they do. Let's choose a hypothetical example to apply idealism and pragmatism to: Life.

Joe went to school for 12 years, and a four-year college before heading off to the work-force to a job he didn't necessarily enjoy, and stayed until he either retired at 69.

Why did Joe work for so long? If he was an idealist, he had a reason for his long years of work, be it the idea of peaceful old age, or cruises to Alaska. But what is Joe's twin brother didn't have this goal to reach towards, to motivate him? What kept him working at such a job? Why didn't he burn out long before his retirement? Well, if there are only practical results, the only thing he could look forward to was old age, or a heap of money. If it was either, how could he enjoy that? Is Joe or Bob, the brother, going to be happier come retirement? Who reached his goal - real or nonexistent?

Thus, as I see it, we come down to the idealist, who, even though it may be unrealistic, has a hope for something to come, or the pragmatist, who works toward nothing in general.

Side: Idealism
4 points

As Thrasymachus in Plato's Republic and Machiavelli in The Prince argued, an unjust person gets farther in life than a just one.

"Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word. " - Machiavelli

"Injustice, if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice" - Thrasymachus

Side: Pragmatism
BMud(73) Disputed
2 points

I would argue that, as the consequences of the choice between idealism and pragmatism become more crucial, the more important it is to be able to temper idealism with pragmatism. I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. I believe that the best problem solvers are those who are both noble-minded (idealists) AND realists (pragmatists). If there are important issues that need to be resolved, we are more likely to implement successful solutions if we start with the idealistic approach of "what is the right thing to do" and then realistically consider "how to get it done".

It seems to me: that the "Pure Idealist" (if there is such a creature) would rarely accomplish much - Utopia only exists in our minds, and the "Pure Pragmatist" represents a potential drastic threat - the ends do NOT always justify the means.

Side: Idealism

There is a line in "Doctor Zhivago" that I have always been impressed by because in life I have seen its truth. I'll ad lib it since it's been a while but you'll catch my drift.

Enter the idealistic person who is ready, willing and able to begin and take part in the Russian Revolution. He is adamantly aware of the unbalanced nature of the current government vis-a-vis the very rich and very poor of his nation. He spouts idealism everywhere he goes and eventually is the leader of that revolution. An older man who has respect for him and who is also in love with the boy's paramour tells him something like this...The world would have you think they look up to and respect the ideals you hold when in truth they loathe you...it is what they wish they could be but they can never be like you nor can they join your cause. This is a bit botched but I think you get my meaning. Even handling things with the purest of intentions may make pragmatism your only way to succeed in getting the problem at hand to be the way you wish it. There is nothing on God's green earth that couldn't or shouldn't be handled considering all implications and consequences.

Side: Both are equally valuable in tandem

Don't lose the war by sticking to your idealism.

Side: Pragmatism
1 point

If this undertaken carefully and with great thought and that's when idealism can soften and sometime diffuse a further situation. Idealism is not as valued as it should be or as you might think. In life I have witnessed the pragmatic to be somewhat more valued and therefore more often used but not without consequence. Take any situation you can think of and work it through with a friend or a teacher or anyone who might be interested in doing such an exercise and give the pragmatic a dash of the idealistic.

Supporting Evidence: testking HP2-Q01 (www.real-testking.com)
Side: Pragmatism
1 point

Nevertheless, our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word.

Supporting Evidence: 70-649 exam (www.actual-exams.com)
Side: Pragmatism