Kant is the best example, and is used often. Of that arrogance defined by universalization of a query; and if we are willing to apply it in all circumstances, regardless of individual differences that may matter in the context of exceptions recognized, we are to adhere to that which may harm our own interests. Why is transcendence important? Why do philosophers insist that any “valid” moral basis possess a metaphysical foundation, transpired in order to justify a cornerstone unsullied by the meanness of common life? Is the fact of relative significance unacceptable merely because it is subject to change? Do we not, in daily life, have to adapt in every circumstance, all the time throughout every encounter with experiences, and is this not the very essence of survival?
We bought the posit of Plato and Aristotle – those two old Greek men who provided the foundation of Western Thought – that either (A) a transcendent Form of universalized principle must exist, or (B) that a methodological argumentation must be able to be advanced, in order to “justify” the ethical groundwork telegraphed. That is how laws, statutes, and societal foundations have evolved – from the implicit assumption that, somehow, principles above and beyond the pragmatic are necessary. But are they? In a world that embraces pure materialism and the genetic predisposition of all that exists, without the inconvenience of a creator or grand inquisitor, is not the approach of pragmatism – of that which merely “works” – enough?
That is how the Federal agencies and the U.S. Postal Service operates these days; they care less about any “principles” of fairness in the workplace, or employment “codes” that allegedly overshadow the work ethic applied to employees, and instead, approach it with a view towards the bottom line: Profitability. For so many years, the Federal Government was incessantly being compared to the private sector – in terms of output, efficiency and investment-for-returns. Such comparisons failed to recognize the obvious: the two general entities served different purposes and needs of society, and forcing them to coalesce and reflect each other merely denigrated the essence of each.
It is not so much the attributable similarities between Plato and Aristotle which form the foundation of such thinking; rather, it is the contrasting approaches between Heraclitus and Parmenides that conform our moments of contemplative underpinnings: between change and permanence, betwixt relativity and transcendence.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are considering filing for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, the question often arises as to a conflicting sense between one’s “Moral Code” and the pragmatic need to file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM. Often, such a conflict is merely a result of muddled thinking – that, somehow, it is not “right” or “fair” to file for benefits when one is so young, or where one can still be productive, but not at the same level as before. But that is precisely how the benefit of Federal Disability Retirement is set up – to allow for a retirement from one’s particular kind or type of work, yet presenting an opportunity to remain productive in the private sector, and potentially make up to 80% of what one’s former Federal or Postal position currently pays.
Morality is all well and good for the elitists of our culture, but in the common world of pragmatism, we must embrace that which we are given, like breadcrumbs dusted off at the dinner table of the behemoth called, the United States Office of Personnel Management.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire