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Old 03-19-2005, 03:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What is the value of compromise?

it seems like compromise is a topic much visited here on TFP and in the ongoing larger public debate. i'm just not sure i understand why compromise is held up as a positive thing in and of itself. it's the edifying of compromise beyond a means to an actual end that baffles me.

if i believe something to be the right (or most effective) thing to do and have the means to do it... is it not morally bankrupt to try to establish common ground for its own sake?

i say the only instance in which compromise can be a moral exercise is when it's necessary. only when a compromise achieves the maximum number of your own goals and as few opposing ones is it a morally responsible thing to do. i'm quite certain that our legislators (by and large) adhere to this philosophy and only use a smokescreen of genuine willingness to compromise in order to mollify the simpler sections of the electorate. and yes, i do realize that there are political considerations made in compromises to effect a political advantage. i'm addressing the sentiment among the electorate that compromises "should" be made as opposed to "often must" be made.

there are people who think compromising is an end in itself. how can this be a moral position? if you hold this position, please explain to me your reasoning behind this.
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Old 03-19-2005, 03:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Common ground for it's own sake is sad. Common ground so as to avoid killing someone has it's place. It's the inbetween things that are case by case right or wrongs. For example: Two groups of people claim ownership to one land, that happens to have tremendous religious emaning to people all over the world. Both groups want the land and they are willing to do what it takes to obtain and hold it. Enter compromise...I happen to think it is possible for Israel and Palestine to peacefully coexsist, possibly even on the same land. The only way to solve that peoblem, short of genocide, is compromise. Both sides have to make concessions for the common good. And that's the bottom line. When compromise best serves the common good, then it is a useful tool. When compromise does not best serve the common good, it is unnecessary. The problem really comes in when one group wants to compromise, and the other group(s) do not. In this case there either needs to be outside involvment (I'm not a big fan of this one, as it can actually draw in more people who are unwilling to compromise), or they need to walk away.

Compromise, like any other tool, has it's uses. It is not a universal fix for every problem, though.
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Old 03-19-2005, 04:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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yeah, but in the first instance you described both parties are really only doing what is in their best interest. they aren't compromising for the sake of it, it's just that the means of compromising provides their best end (avoiding the slaughter of their own people). i think you and i, will, are in general agreement. compromise being a tool to craft the end-product and not the product itself.
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If you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly, you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance for survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.

~ Winston Churchill
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Old 03-19-2005, 04:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Compromise's value lies in its ability to provide mutually unsatisfying yet acceptable solutions to otherwise untenable conflicts.
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Old 03-19-2005, 04:54 PM   #5 (permalink)
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To paraphrase a quote from "Fight Club", and myself: "Compromise for the sake of compromise is masterbation." It serves no purpous but onto itself, and that is no purpous that helps anyone in reality. So why is compromise considered good unto itself? People see it solve problems, and decide that it is inherantly good. The problem, of course, is that with any tool: some problems they can fix, other problems they can make worse.
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Old 03-19-2005, 05:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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You might want to read up a little on Game Theory. It is an interesting way to look at compromise. Of course it is not foolproof, and the more variables and players, the more possible outcome situations. This is a tool used in diplomacy to estimate risks and establish positions for negotiation, which is part of the reason why Iraq and North Korea are being treated so differently.

I would be interested to see an example of common ground for its own sake. I can't think of any instance where an individual or our legislators have compromised a winning position and given something away when they didn't have to. In my mind, holding an intractable goal is not bad (eg; Middle East Peace, balancing your personal budget), but inflexibility in achieving that goal is unproductive.
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Old 03-19-2005, 05:26 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Wow, that's interesting stuff. I found some info on Game Theory here.
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Old 03-19-2005, 05:34 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It is interesting. Von Neumann was the pioneer of win-lose theory (simple games), but Nash developed more complex game theory. Google "Nash Equilibrium".
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Old 03-19-2005, 06:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Just for those who don't know.
Nash is "the Beautiful Mind guy ".
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Old 03-19-2005, 06:43 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson once said, "Diplomacy is the art of letting the other guy have it your way"

I love that quote for some reason.
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Old 03-19-2005, 08:08 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Compromise allows both sides to have a say in what is best for the whole. It also allows civilization to advance. We live everyday compromising with each other, and to say we don't is foolish.

I compromise every time I go to work. I feel I deserve more money than I make. However, the company I work for says they overpay me. We compromise by looking at the job skills and the market value of others in my position and we determine a fair wage for both sides to live with.

I compromise every time I pay taxes. I do not want my money to go to the war in Iraq or to pay for tax cuts while we go into a deficit. However, my tax money also goes to programs that I want to see our government have, therefore I pay my taxes and do not complain. (And by the way, when I (married but seperated) make $524 every 2 weeks and $147 is pulled out in taxes leaving me $377 or $188.5 a week to live on .... but there are those on this board that would say that is more than enough... of course I highly doubt they could live on that....... When someone (single or married but seperated) makes $1000 a week and they have $300 taken out and they say they pay too much..... I feel no sympathy, however I do not cry over it, I realize that both of our taxes are needed to better society.)

Once this country truly cannot compromise (and again compromise is the very nature of this country.... read how Addams and Jefferson compromised with one another to write the Constitution) then all hope for a better country will cease to exist.

China, Hitler, Saddam, Stalin..... they allowed no compromise and that is what those of you who believe compromise is for the weak would have as leadership. JFK, FDR, Ike, Teddy Roosevelt, Reagan, Clinton they allowed compromise and the country grew, not 1 was a weak leader (politics aside) all put forth what they felt would better society.
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Old 03-19-2005, 09:38 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james t kirk
Former Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson once said, "Diplomacy is the art of letting the other guy have it your way"

I love that quote for some reason.

That's good!
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Old 03-21-2005, 11:19 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman
I would be interested to see an example of common ground for its own sake. I can't think of any instance where an individual or our legislators have compromised a winning position and given something away when they didn't have to. In my mind, holding an intractable goal is not bad (eg; Middle East Peace, balancing your personal budget), but inflexibility in achieving that goal is unproductive.
I agree with Ratman on both counts. Compromise isn't surrender, it's mutual acceptance of partial victories and submissions to achieve a solution that's better than where you started. It's what Congress does every day. The art of the compromise is to discover when to stop fighting, because the fight alone can devour resources that would be better spent elsewhere.
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