On Settling

RSA Event


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  • Health & wellbeing
  • Philosophy

Distinguished social theorist Robert Goodin calls for a new recognition of the positive value of “settling”, and explains why it really is different from compromise, resignation and failure.


RSA Thursday

In a culture that worships ceaseless striving, "settling" seems like an admission of failure. But is it?

Distinguished social and political theorist Robert Goodin argues, instead, that settling can have positive value, and is in fact not only more realistic but more useful than an excessive ideal of aspiration and “grass-is-always-greener” obsessiveness.

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”.

At the RSA, Robert Goodin explores why settling is useful for planning, creating trust, and strengthening the social fabric - and why settling really is different from compromise, resignation and failure.

Speaker: 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.

Chair: Dr Suzy Walton, RSA Deputy Chair

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