On Settling

On Settling

by Robert Goodin
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press


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On Settling

In a culture that worships ceaseless striving, "settling" seems like giving up. But is it? On Settling defends the positive value of settling, explaining why this disdained practice is not only more realistic but more useful than an excessive ideal of striving. In fact, the book makes the case that we'd all be lost without settling—and that even to strive, one must first settle.

We may admire strivers and love the ideal of striving, but who of us could get through a day without settling? Real people, confronted with a complex problem, simply make do, settling for some resolution that, while almost certainly not the best that one could find by devoting limitless time and attention to the problem, is nonetheless good enough. Robert Goodin explores the dynamics of this process. These involve taking as fixed, for now, things that we reserve the right to reopen later (nothing is fixed for good, although events might always overtake us). We settle on some things in order to concentrate better on others. At the same time we realize we may need to come back later and reconsider those decisions. From settling on and settling for, to settling down and settling in, On Settling explains why settling is useful for planning, creating trust, and strengthening the social fabric—and why settling is different from compromise and resignation.

So, the next time you're faced with a thorny problem, just settle. It's no failure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691148458
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 09/16/2012
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 124
Sales rank: 1,174,318
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Robert E. Goodin is professor of government at the University of Essex and distinguished professor of philosophy and social and political theory at Australian National University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

One • Modes of Settling 5
Where This Is Heading 5
Settling Down 7
Settling In 17
Settling Up 20
Settling For 25
Settling One's Affairs 27
Settling On: The Master Notion 27

Two • The Value of Settling 30
Settling as an Aid to Planning and Agency 31
Settling, Commitment, Trust, and Confidence 37
Settling the Social Fabric 44

Three • What Settling Is Not 51
Settling Is Not Just Compromising 52
Settling Is Not Just Conservatism 57
Settling Is Not Just Resignation 60

Four • Settling in Aid of Striving 63
Settling in Order to Strive 64
What Strivings Require Settling, and Why 66
When to Switch between One and the Other, and Why 68

Conclusions 74

Notes 75
References 93
Index 107

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