“Well, that might sound good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.”

Sometimes, when you try to make an argument in a discussion, someone might say something like “Well, that might sound good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.”

Let us consider that for a moment. What do they mean when they say something like that? If it actually sounds good in theory, why are they so fast to say it won’t work in reality?

In “Philosophy: Who Needs It” (chapter 2, Philosophical Detection), Ayn Rand, explores on this:

“This may be good in theory, but it doesn’t work in practice.” What is a theory? It is a set of abstract principles purporting to be either a correct description of reality or a set of guidelines for man’s actions. Correspondence to reality is the standard of value by which one estimates a theory. If a theory is inapplicable to reality, by what standard can it be estimated as “good”? If one were to accept that notion, it would mean: a. that the activity of man’s mind is unrelated to reality; b. that the purpose of thinking is neither to acquire knowledge nor to guide man’s actions. (The purpose of that catch phrase is to invalidate man’s conceptual faculty.)

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