Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Bit of Clarification

After writing my last post("The Problem of Established Perspectives"), I realized it could be seen as contradicting many things I wrote before. So, rather than allow that perception to stand, I thought I would try to clear up the apparent contradictions between my last post and my earlier writing.

I think the largest issue is with my prior arguments in favor of tradition and of slow, gradual change. After writing that, it may seem that, in arguing that we should be ready to completely break with current practice, I am arguing against my earlier positions. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The easiest way to clear up this confusion is to consider separately goals and means. Goals are, obviously, the end one eventually hopes to reach, while means are the series of steps one hopes to take to get there. Thus, in my mind, I am arguing that, while most people seem rather rigid in setting goals which are shaped by present conditions, we need to consider goals which are radically different from the present. On the other hand, unlike many who espouse radical goals, I believe the path to those goals, the means, should be a series of slow, gradual changes, allowing us to evaluate the results more sensibly, and see what side effects arise.

Of course, that is not the whole picture, things are never that simple. While I do advocate considering the possibility of radical breaks with the current approach, I also recognize that any change also has costs, and, in some cases, the cost of change is not worth the small gain. Thus, while I consider radical changes, I also must add some weight to maintaining the status quo, since in so doing we introduce the least uncertainty and incur the lowest costs. Of course, in some cases, the status quo is so detrimental, or the change sufficiently beneficial, that such weighting will be meaningless (and most of the cases I mentioned in my essay strike me as such cases), but we need to consider each individually.

However, even in cases where the current situation is damaging, or where there is considerable benefit to a change, I would continue to argue that we not abandon our present system wholesale, or charge into a drastic change, as, even with a bad current situation, there exists every possibility that making drastic and sudden changes we may actually make things worse, while, by making slow, small changes, there is every possibility of making small adjustments, removing any unforeseen complications that might arise.

I hope this has helped to make my ideas a bit more clear. I always worry when I fail to explain such things that I am giving the wrong impression.

No comments:

Post a Comment