Noah Millman has an epic-length response to my G-File today and I’m delighted for it. I was hoping for more feedback as this Pragmatism stuff is something of a hobby-horse of mine these days. That said, I’ve got to work on something else right now and this is way too long to respond to now.
But I will quibble now with his first quibble. He says that “pragmatism” doesn’t have a positive connotation. He makes this case by coming up with words which mean the opposite of pragmatism — principled, for example — which we like and words which he says are synonyms with pragmatic that we don’t like — “mercenary,” for example. That’s all find and dandy. But this guilt-by-association really doesn’t disprove my assertion that pragmatism is a well-liked word in political discourse. Sure, there are some of us who don’t like “pragmatic” any more than we like it when politicians are celebrated for “growing” in office, since both terms are often code for liberal agendas. But this is a rarefied interepretation carrying a lot of ideological freight. In common usage, even among conservatives, the word is well-liked and well-meant.
Update: Okay, I’ve now just read the whole post. I must say that rumors of Millman’s brilliance have received further confirmation. This isn’t to say I agree with him on all points, but this is a very impressive bit of insta-philosophizing. Substantive response still to come.