Pragmatism over Principles II

02/17/09

Pragmatism over Principles II

(Continuing Pragmatism over Principles)

“The freedom from arbitrary rules, for which Cameron had fought, the freedom that imposed a great new responsibility on the creative builder, became mere elimination of all effort, even the effort of mastering historical styles. It became a rigid set of new rules—the discipline of conscious incompetence, creative poverty made into a system, mediocrity boastfully confessed.”

- Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Saying that it’s OK not to care about quality and that there is no need to study the collected wisdom of experienced developers is an affront to my professional ethics. It is equating mediocre programmers with those who care about craftsmanship. It denigrates our profession and ourselves.

This is the same idea that Rand rails against - that the common man, following his simple platitudes, can achieve the same results as the person who has strived, studied, tested, challenged, and continuously improved for years can achieve. There is no concept of excellence. Choosing between two possibilities is simply a matter of opinion - there is no objective validation that says, “this method is better.”

To be fair, this does bring up questions of measurements, metrics, and results. A good developer must deliver working software that meets the customer’s needs. Doing so without principles, though, is unethical, unprofessional, and foolish.


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