Government Evolution and the Democratic Ideal: Applying Pragmatism as a Method for Success




Herrera, Ryan A.

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The purpose of this thesis is to lend a philosophical perspective into the evolution of governments towards a democratic ideal. Freedom and equality are the basis of a global progression towards democratic freedoms in political and civic life. History has witnessed an on-going development of political consciousness which demands government accountability by protecting the natural rights of life, liberty, and property. Coupled together, these foundational principles establish the democratic ideal. This ideal is advanced when governments allow for effective citizen participation, adherence to the rule of law, and the enhancement of citizen wisdom. Moreover, the standard for determining the effectiveness of governing regimes is measured through social, economic, and political success. All three criteria must be met in order for governments to claim functional success; furthermore, success can only be achieved if governments adapt to their current environments. The means by which governments adapt to their political and social environments is through the use of the pragmatic method. Pragmatism utilizes an exhaustive, practical means of evaluating all viable policy options and their potential consequences. Such an evaluation is able to determine which courses of action are best for protecting society and striving for the democratic ideal. Pragmatism in conjunction with the democratic ideal creates the democratic filter which investigates various plausible ideas in order to develop the most prudent policy options. Two case studies- Russia and the Arab Spring- will examine the barrier political ideologies pose to the democratization of modern-day societies. By limiting rationality and hindering democratic progress, political ideologies persist as a dangerous force to the democratic ideal. Applying the pragmatic method to the democratic filter can overcome this ideological barrier by advocating for a more rational approach to government decision-making. Thus, pragmatism should be used to enable governments to continue evolving towards the democratic ideal.



success, pragmatism, natural rights, democratic principles, ideology, Russia, Arab Spring, democracy, Honors College


Herrera, R. A. (2012). Government evolution and the democratic ideal: Applying pragmatism as a method for success (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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