Sowell’s Dichotomy, Constrained and Unconstrained Visions and the Divisions we See Today

Discuss whether you think Sowell’s dichotomy between the constrained and unconstrained visions adequately explains the divisions we see today. Do the two visions line up with the policy stances of the left and the right? Also, does either vision better align with a biblical view of government, in your opinion? 

Sowell’s dichotomy between the constrained and the unconstrained visions adequately explains the division we see in today’s society. In comparison, the unconstrained vision represents the liberals while the constrained vision constitutes the conservative. Sowell explains that those with a constrained vision see the specific spiritual, moral, or physical realities as unchangeable. Therefore, the constrained one can only improve the world by first understanding the fundamental laws undergirding society. As a result, prudence is the richest quality in the constrained vision. One must carefully weigh the trade-offs to ensure that their actions are informed by morality and the desire to do what is right (Sowell, 2007).

Hence, those with a constrained vision acknowledge that moral limitations are accepted inherent facts of life, but one must strive to do their best within their constraints. On the other hand, individuals with an unconstrained vision see everything as perfectible. The concept of “solution” is crucial to their vision. They believe that one can only claim to have achieved a solution if they longer deem it necessary to make a trade-off. According to those with unconstrained vision, the objective of achieving a solution is what justifies the initial means that otherwise might be considered unacceptable (Sowell, 2007). Sowell’s dichotomy can explain the political stances on the left and the right political wings.

Read also Politics-Administration Dichotomy Explained

Throughout history, both the unconstrained and the constrained characterize a society. For instance, in today’s society, the constrained represents the left-wing while the unconstrained represents the right-wing. This is visible in the values and principles that inform the policies of both divides. For instance, the left-wing (constrained) emphasizes freedom, reform, equality, progress, and rights (Salmela & von Scheve, 2018). The policies that the left-wing stress exhibit the moral limitations that constrain their decision-making. They advocate and champion policies that they believe will achieve what is right using the right means and, as such, must weigh the trade-offs to ensure their actions are informed by morality. On the other hand, the right-wing (unconstrained) emphasize policies that emphasize order, authority, duty, tradition, hierarchy, and nationalism (Salmela & von Scheve, 2018).

All these are geared towards facilitating change by putting the right people in charge and creating institutions to achieve the desired solution. The right-wing also believe that pre-existing conditions are the primary cause of current inefficiencies. Therefore, the solution is to address current inefficiencies without allowing pre-existing conditions to limit the problem-solving process. Eventually, the solution will justify the sacrifices. Notably, this has been the policy-making approach of the right-wing. Trumps administration immigration policies are a perfect example of the policy making of individuals with unconstrained vision. To sum up, the constrained and unconstrained visions line up with the policy stances of the left and the right.

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