Singaporean Pragmatism

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Singaporean Pragmatism is not American Pragmatism. Bryan Caplan explains:

Singaporeans often speak of their policies’ “pragmatism.” But their version of pragmatism is very different from ours. In the U.S., pragmatism primarily means going along with public opinion and openness to political compromise. In Singapore, in contrast, pragmatism primarily means judging policies based on their actual consequences, not their popularity. “Pragmatism” is virtually a synonym for “utilitarianism.”

Example: In the American sense of the term, congestion prices for roads would not be “pragmatic” because lots of people would object. In the Singaporean sense of the term, congestion pricing for roads is “pragmatic” because it sharply reduces rush hour traffic jams. Get it?

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