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Performance and ProgressEssays on Capitalism, Business, and Society$
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Subramanian Rangan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744283

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744283.001.0001

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On Progress

On Progress

Chapter:
(p.115) Chapter 7 On Progress
Source:
Performance and Progress
Author(s):

Philip Kitcher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198744283.003.0009

This chapter offers a general approach to the concept of progress, illustrating it by two examples. The first focuses on the least controversial instance of progress, in the domain of the natural sciences. The second considers the notion of ethical progress, a notion viewed as fundamental to the understanding of social progress. At the heart of my approach is a distinction between the ambitious idea of teleological progress, and a more modest concept of pragmatic progress. The last two sections turn to the concept of social progress, identifying the spread of capacities for an autonomously chosen valuable life as the key. Standard economic measures of progress are often poor guides to social progress in my sense, and there are serious questions about whether contemporary socio-economic institutions are antipathetic to social progress.

Keywords:   progress, scientific progress, ethical progress, social progress, capitalism, pragmatism

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