Mike Bloomberg will support the Democratic nominee through to election day, even if he is not the nominee. Should the nominee accept his help? This question applies to any of the candidates, but is of particular significance to the “anti-billionaire” candidates, Sanders and Warren. Would accepting Bloomberg’s help be ethical?
The answer depends on understanding “Capital P” Pragmatism. It is not the pragmatism of “pragmatically” using a screw driver to screw in a screw. In Pragmatism, in difficult ethical choice situations, the two famous formulas, “The ends justify the means,” or the abjectly amoral, “If it works it’s good,” apply. In dire situations like ours with Trump, the question is addressed in an original Star Trek episode, “Does survival cancel programming?” The answer depends on our understanding of “P” Pragmatism. If we survive, can we forgive ourselves for the heinous thing we had to do to survive? In “P” Pragmatism, we have no problem, we cancel programming, because either amoral formula escapes ethical scrutiny.
If, for example, Elizabeth Warren, believes that she will lose without Bloomberg’s help, should she take it and be able to look at herself in the mirror. The key question: Whether or not she cares, can we look at ourselves in the mirror after voting for her?
If she, or we, don’t care, we have excused ourselves for doing an awful thing by taking the Pragmatic off ramp into the universe of amorality. It is “the caring” about the ethics of our choices that distinguishes the ethical world of morality, from the ethical void of Pragmatism. Observing the actions of others will NOT inform us of this difference, because we cannot be in the minds of others to know whether or not they care.
But we CAN know within ourselves. If we don’t care, we will excuse ourselves and go on to excuse ourselves in likewise fashion for the next “survival” action that would trouble us if we cared. That’s Pragmatism!
If we care, we will say to ourselves, “Oh my God! What I had to do! I will never forget what I had to do! And I will live my life going forward, to NEVER be responsible for getting myself into any situation where I felt I could not forgive myself for what I had to do. That’s ETHICS!
The concept of “P” Pragmatism and its implications draws heavily on my readings of Any Rand on the subject.