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The problem today, as Lew's recent statement highlighted, stems from deeply entrenched differences between the opposing sides' belief systems, with ideological questions about fairness and responsibility trumping pragmatic discussion of the best way forward for everyone. As the historian Robert Kagan argued in 2002, Americans and Europeans do not only have different worldviews; they occupy entirely different worlds.Just as Platonists and Aristotelians struggled against one another for millennia, Kantians and utilitarians have been at one another's throats for centuries.Such deep theoretical conflicts have real-world consequences, as they impede constructive debate and cooperative action in crisis situations. Likewise, international forums such as the G-20 exist precisely to persuade a large number of vastly different countries to set aside philosophical questions for the sake of their shared economic, political, or security interests.In a sense, central banks have begun to resemble medieval philosophical faculties, with discussions addressing the issues underlying policy decisions, rather than just the policies themselves.Central banks' new role as supreme arbiters of policy truth is fraught with hazard.Moreover, the policy approaches that central banks produce may be too complex and interlinked to function efficiently.
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