To What Extent Do Conservatives Favour Pragmatism Instead of Principle?

Topics: Conservatism, Free market, Conservative Party Pages: 4 (1084 words) Published: November 20, 2012
‘Conservatives support Pragmatism over principle’ Discuss.

Pragmatism essentially believes in a more practical behavior or form of policy, as opposed to an ideological principle. Conservatives traditionally favour pragmatism because it emphasizes the impact of applied ideas that have been tested over time- highlighting the importance of tradition (one major traditional conservative value. One-nation conservatives agree with the foundations of pragmatic ideas. Whereas the New Right was heavily ideological- arguably, the application of Neo-liberal ideas with an emphasis on free-market economics (i.e.: heavy privatization in the Thatcher period) shows a radical change into applying newer principles.

Traditional conservatives place a higher emphasis on pragmatic ideas- as these ideas have been tested over time (a conservative would argue that they work; they are product of years of continuity) thus humans are incapable and essentially limited in radically making theories themselves. Their ideas may be based upon the idea of tradition; which aligns itself with the Darwinian belief that only the fittest policies have survived over the years- and have created what Chesterton called the ‘democracy of the dead’ which is much more reputable than todays ‘arrogant oligarchy’. Pragmatic ideas are preferred because they have continuously growing over centuries whereas principle would ensure instability- for example: the sudden abolition of the monarchy would heavily affect the public; because it’s nationally loved- therefore extreme principles of ideologies like communism would definitely cause imbalance. This agrees with the Burkean view that a human principle can’t be superior to the pragmatic principle that has developed on its own- as the political world is ‘boundless and bottomless’ (as Oakshott said), essentially too complicated for the human mind to articulate principles efficiently.

Furthermore, traditional conservatives disregarded the application of...
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