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Progress

Be it resolved humankind’s best days lie ahead...

 

November 6, 2015

Progress. It is one of the animating concepts of the modern era. From the Enlightenment onwards, the West has had an enduring belief that through the evolution of institutions, innovations and ideas, the human condition is improving. This process is supposedly accelerating as new technologies, individual freedoms and the spread of global norms empowers individuals and societies around the world. But is progress inevitable? Its critics argue that human civilization has become different, not better, over the last two and a half centuries. What is seen as breakthrough or innovation in one period becomes a setback or limitation in another. In short, progress is an ideology not a fact; a way of thinking about the world as opposed to a description of reality.

To engage with this big, timeless debate of our era, the Munk Debate will move the motion: be it resolved humankind’s best days lie ahead.

Debate Results

Pre-Debate Results

71% Pro 29% Con

Post-Debate Results

73% Pro 27% Con

Pro wins with 2% vote gain.

Debaters

Pro

Steven Pinker

“It’s just a brute fact that we don't throw virgins into volcanoes any more. We don't execute people for shoplifting a cabbage. And we used to.”

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Pro

Matt Ridley

“The world has never been a better place to live in, and it will keep on getting better.”

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Con

Alain de Botton

“Nothing human can ever be free of blemishes. There cannot be an end to boom and bust, mayhem and death.”

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Con

Malcolm Gladwell

“The idea that because things have gotten better in the past they will continue to do so in the future is a fallacy I would have thought confined to the lower reaches of Wall Street.”

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