I would describe myself as a compassionate empiricist

When it comes to politics, I believe that the values of compassion and empiricism are more important than dogmatically identifying with the left or right over any issue.

Compassion is a sympathetic awareness of the suffering of all human beings and other sentient living organisms. When thoroughly cultivated, it tends to result in a desire to help those who cannot easily help themselves including many of the downtrodden, the destitute, the dispossessed and the disabled. It involves having a special concern for the underdog but without forgetting to recognise the very real needs and struggles of everyone else.

In other words, true compassion should never be one-sided and so there would ideally be no “enemies” since it is based on the idea that everybody is deserving and suffers to some degree. It means caring about all sides of a conflict rather than picking one side and demonising the other. It means being inclined to view people primarily as human beings who essentially deserve to thrive rather than judging them solely by their views, past actions or power relationships.

Empiricism is the pragmatic viewpoint that in order to know whether an idea or solution is correct it first needs to be tested scientifically, carefully and thoroughly without prejudging what the outcome “should” be. It involves having a rational and very open-minded attitude where we are always happy to be proven wrong about anything rather than trying to reinterpret the results to suit a desired conclusion.

Rather than simply agreeing or disagreeing with a policy based solely on principle, a typical response from an empiricist would be: “How can we test that to see if it would really work and to find out what its various effects would be in practice?” An empirical attitude might be demonstrated through a scientific curiosity to examine a wide variety of very different case studies or a desire to figure out what an effective pilot scheme might look like.

To be continued at some point…

This post is from the really interesting book blog.


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