Philosophy is like math to me: there’s always a correct and consistent answer to every problem. If 2+2 equals 4, then 4+4 equals 8. Different variables and different problems do not change my methods for achieving the correct answer.
If 2+2 equals 4 today, then it equals 4 all the time. What’s right or wrong in math—or in my mind, philosophy—doesn’t change by circumstances.
For that reason, pragmatism is like bad math to me. It’s full of inconsistencies and subjective reasoning that produce incorrect answers. In pragmatism, 2+2 doesn’t always equal 4.
I say that because the coronavirus pandemic is testing my loyalty to principle or consistent thinking like nothing before.
Many libertarians and conservatives have temporarily abandoned their capitalists positions to support our governments’ authoritarian policies over coronavirus pandemic.
But I have a difficult time temporarily dismissing my principles for any cause—not because libertarianism and capitalism are precious to me. They’re not precious to me, but consistent thinking is. If I can’t keep a consistent philosophy, then what’s the value of that philosophy?
I don’t think it’s ever right for anyone—including the government—to actively harm others to save others. I don’t think it’s ever okay to beat innocent people up to save others. I desperately want people to be protected from the coronavirus, but I don’t want others to get destroyed to make that possible. That’s my dilemma over our governments’ reactions to the pandemic.
Our governments have good intentions, but they’ve attacked and destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people to protect others. I understand the intention. But I am deeply uncomfortable with the method. I don’t think the ends justify the means. I think there are less destructive solutions to the pandemic—there has to be, right?
But this isn’t an article about policy, it’s an article about principle. If private property is a biblical concept—if it’s sinful and oppressive for individuals and governments to strip property rights from citizens—why do we consider it okay for the government to violate private property rights during this pandemic?
I understand the government has resorted to forcing people out of work because it’s an emergency crisis. But do circumstances make sinful and oppressive acts righteous? Do emergencies make ungodly things godly?
If it’s okay for the government to establish a temporarily communist state because they think it’s the most helpful option in a pandemic, then why isn’t communism a good permanent solution? If capitalism should be abandoned in a crisis, then why should we maintain it at all?
Pragmatic politics seems just as unhelpful as pragmatic theology to me. Circumstances do not shape what’s true or good. Inconsistent thinking, even during a crisis, doesn’t seem right to me. What’s the point of inconsistent philosophy?
I’m just trying to understand these things. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not. But I think it’s safe to say to that even in the middle of this pandemic, 2+2 is still 4.