Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that began in the United States around 1870. Pragmatism rejects the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists consider thought an instrument or tool for prediction, problem solving and action. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes.
A few of the various but interrelated positions often characteristic of philosophers working from a pragmatist approach include:
- Epistemology (justification): a coherentist theory of justification that rejects the claim that all knowledge and justified belief rest ultimately on a foundation of noninferential knowledge or justified belief. Coherentists hold that justification is solely a function of some relationship between beliefs, none of which are privileged beliefs in the way maintained by foundationalist theories of justification.
- Epistemology (truth): a deflationary or pragmatist theory of truth; the former is the epistemological claim that assertions that predicate truth of a statement do not attribute a property called truth to such a statement while the latter is the epistemological claim that assertions that predicate truth of a statement attribute the property of useful-to-believe to such a statement.
- Metaphysics: a pluralist view that there is more than one sound way to conceptualize the world and its content.
- Philosophy of science: an instrumentalist and scientific anti-realist view that a scientific concept or theory should be evaluated by how effectively it explains and predicts phenomena, as opposed to how accurately it describes objective reality.
- Philosophy of language: an anti-representationalist view that rejects analyzing the semantic meaning of propositions, mental states, and statements in terms of a correspondence or representational relationship and instead analyzes semantic meaning in terms of notions like dispositions to action, inferential relationships, and/or functional roles (e.g. behaviorism and inferentialism). Not to be confused with pragmatics, a sub-field of linguistics with no relation to philosophical pragmatism.
- Additionally, forms of empiricism, fallibilism, verificationism, and a Quinean naturalist metaphilosophy are all commonly elements of pragmatist philosophies. Many pragmatists are epistemological relativists and see this to be an important facet of their pragmatism (e.g. Richard Rorty), but this is controversial and other pragmatists argue such relativism to be seriously misguided (e.g. Hilary Putnam, Susan Haack).
Charles Sanders Peirce (and his pragmatic maxim) deserves much of the credit for pragmatism, along with later twentieth century contributors, William James and John Dewey. Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention after W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars used a revised pragmatism to criticize logical positivism in the 1960s. Inspired by the work of Quine and Sellars, a brand of pragmatism known sometimes as neopragmatism gained influence through Richard Rorty, the most influential of the late twentieth century pragmatists along with Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom. Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and a "neo-classical" pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey.
The word pragmatism derives from Greek πρᾶγμα (pragma), "a thing, a fact", which comes from πράσσω (prassō), "to pass over, to practise, to achieve". The word "Pragmatism" as a piece of technical terminology in philosophy refers to a specific set of associated philosophical views originating in the late twentieth-century. However, the phrase is often confused with "pragmatism" in the context of politics (which refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on practical considerations, rather than ideological notions) and with a non- technical use of "pragmatism" in ordinary contexts referring to dealing with matters in one's life realistically and in a way that is based on practical rather than abstract considerations.
- Origins 1
- Summary 2
Central pragmatist facets 3
- Anti-reification of concepts and theories 3.1
- Naturalism and anti-Cartesianism 3.2
- Reconciliation of anti-skepticism and fallibilism 3.3
- Pragmatist theory of truth and epistemology 3.4
Pragmatism in other fields of philosophy 4
- Philosophy of science 4.1
- Logic 4.2
- Metaphysics 4.3
- Philosophy of mind 4.4
- Ethics 4.5
- Aesthetics 4.6
- Philosophy of religion 4.7
- Analytical, neoclassical, and neopragmatism 5
Legacy and contemporary relevance 6
- Influence of pragmatism in social sciences 6.1
- Influence of pragmatism in public administration 6.2
- Pragmatism and feminism 6.3
- Pragmatism and urbanism 6.4
- Criticisms 7
A list of pragmatists 8
- Classical pragmatists (1850–1950) 8.1
- Neoclassical pragmatists (1950–present) 8.2
- Analytical, neo- and other pragmatists (1950–present) 8.3
Other pragmatists 8.4
- Legal pragmatists 8.4.1
- Pragmatists in the extended sense 8.4.2
- See also 9
- References 10
- Sources 11
Further reading 12
- Additional bibliography 12.1
- External links 13
Pragmatism as a philosophical movement began in the George Herbert Mead.
The first use in print of the name pragmatism was in 1898 by James, who credited Peirce with coining the term during the early 1870s. James regarded Peirce's 1877–8 "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" series (including "The Fixation of Belief", 1877 and especially "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", 1878) as the foundation of pragmatism . Peirce in turn wrote in 1906 that Nicholas St. John Green had been instrumental by emphasizing the importance of applying Alexander Bain's definition of belief, which was "that upon which a man is prepared to act." Peirce wrote that "from this definition, pragmatism is scarce more than a corollary; so that I am disposed to think of him as the grandfather of pragmatism." John Shook has said, "Chauncey Wright also deserves considerable credit, for as both Peirce and James recall, it was Wright who demanded a phenomenalist and fallibilist empiricism as an alternative to rationalistic speculation."
Inspiration for the various pragmatists included:
- Francis Bacon who coined the saying ipsa scientia potestas est ("knowledge itself is power")
- David Hume for his naturalistic account of knowledge and action
- Thomas Reid, for his direct realism
- Immanuel Kant, for his idealism and from whom Peirce derives the name "pragmatism"
- G. W. F. Hegel who introduced temporality into philosophy (Pinkard in Misak 2007)
- J. S. Mill for his nominalism and empiricism
- George Berkeley for his project to eliminate all unclear concepts from philosophy (Peirce 8:33)
- Henri Bergson who influenced William James to renounce intellectualism and logical methods
Peirce developed the idea that inquiry depends on real doubt, not mere verbal or hyperbolic doubt, and said, in order to understand a conception in a fruitful way, "Consider the practical effects of the objects of your conception. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object", which he later called the pragmatic maxim. It equates any conception of an object to a conception of that object's effects to a general extent of the effects' conceivable implications for informed practice. It is the heart of his pragmatism as a method of experimentational mental reflection arriving at conceptions in terms of conceivable confirmatory and disconfirmatory circumstances — a method hospitable to the generation of explanatory hypotheses, and conducive to the employment and improvement of verification. Typical of Peirce is his concern with inference to explanatory hypotheses as outside the usual foundational alternative between deductivist rationalism and inductivist empiricism, although he was a mathematical logician and a founder of statistics.
Peirce lectured and further wrote on pragmatism to make clear his own interpretation. While framing a conception's meaning in terms of conceivable tests, Peirce emphasized that, since a conception is general, its meaning, its intellectual purport, equates to its acceptance's implications for general practice, rather than to any definite set of real consequences (or test results); a conception's clarified meaning points toward its conceivable verifications, but the outcomes are not meanings, but individual upshots. Peirce in 1905 coined the new name pragmaticism "for the precise purpose of expressing the original definition", saying that "all went happily" with James's and Schiller's variant uses of the old name "pragmatism" and that he nonetheless coined the new name because of the old name's growing use in "literary journals, where it gets abused". Yet in a 1906 manuscript he cited as causes his differences with James and Schiller. and, in a 1908 publication, his differences with James as well as literary author Giovanni Papini. Peirce in any case regarded his views that truth is immutable and infinity is real, as being opposed by the other pragmatists, but he remained allied with them on other issues.
Central pragmatist facets
Anti-reification of concepts and theories
Dewey, in The Quest For Certainty, criticized what he called "the philosophical fallacy": philosophers often take categories (such as the mental and the physical) for granted because they don't realize that these are merely nominal concepts that were invented to help solve specific problems. This causes metaphysical and conceptual confusion. Various examples are the "ultimate Being" of Hegelian philosophers, the belief in a "realm of value", the idea that logic, because it is an abstraction from concrete thought, has nothing to do with the act of concrete thinking, and so on. David L. Hildebrand sums up the problem: "Perceptual inattention to the specific functions comprising inquiry led realists and idealists alike to formulate accounts of knowledge that project the products of extensive abstraction back onto experience." (Hildebrand 2003)
Naturalism and anti-Cartesianism
From the outset, pragmatists wanted to reform philosophy and bring it more in line with the scientific method as they understood it. They argued that idealist and realist philosophy had a tendency to present human knowledge as something beyond what science could grasp. These philosophies then resorted either to a phenomenology inspired by Kant or to correspondence theories of knowledge and truth. Pragmatists criticized the former for its a priorism, and the latter because it takes correspondence as an unanalyzable fact. Pragmatism instead tries to explain, psychologically and biologically, how the relation between knower and known 'works' in the world.
In 1868, C.S. Peirce argued that there is no power of intuition in the sense of a cognition unconditioned by inference, and no power of introspection, intuitive or otherwise, and that awareness of an internal world is by hypothetical inference from external facts. Introspection and intuition were staple philosophical tools at least since Descartes. He argued that there is no absolutely first cognition in a cognitive process; such a process has its beginning but can always be analyzed into finer cognitive stages. That which we call introspection does not give privileged access to knowledge about the mind—the self is a concept that is derived from our interaction with the external world and not the other way around (De Waal 2005, pp. 7–10). At the same time he held persistently that pragmatism and epistemology in general could not be derived from principles of psychology understood as a special science: what we do think is too different from what we should think; in his "Illustrations of the Logic of Science" series, Peirce formulated both pragmatism and principles of statistics as aspects of scientific method in general. This is an important point of disagreement with most other pragmatists, who advocate a more thorough naturalism and psychologism.
Richard Rorty expanded on these and other arguments in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature in which he criticized attempts by many philosophers of science to carve out a space for epistemology that is entirely unrelated to—and sometimes thought of as superior to—the empirical sciences. W.V. Quine, instrumental in bringing naturalized epistemology back into favor with his essay Epistemology Naturalized (Quine 1969), also criticized 'traditional' epistemology and its "Cartesian dream" of absolute certainty. The dream, he argued, was impossible in practice as well as misguided in theory, because it separates epistemology from scientific inquiry.
Reconciliation of anti-skepticism and fallibilism
Hilary Putnam has suggested that the reconciliation of anti-skepticism and fallibilism is the central goal of American pragmatism. Although all human knowledge is partial, with no ability to take a 'God's-eye-view,' this does not necessitate a globalized skeptical attitude, a radical philosophical skepticism (as distinguished from that which is called scientific skepticism). Peirce insisted that (1) in reasoning, there is the presupposition, and at least the hope, that truth and the real are discoverable and would be discovered, sooner or later but still inevitably, by investigation taken far enough, and (2) contrary to Descartes' famous and influential methodology in the Meditations on First Philosophy, doubt cannot be feigned or created by verbal fiat to motivate fruitful inquiry, and much less can philosophy begin in universal doubt. Doubt, like belief, requires justification. Genuine doubt irritates and inhibits, in the sense that belief is that upon which one is prepared to act. It arises from confrontation with some specific recalcitrant matter of fact (which Dewey called a 'situation'), which unsettles our belief in some specific proposition. Inquiry is then the rationally self-controlled process of attempting to return to a settled state of belief about the matter. Note that anti-skepticism is a reaction to modern academic skepticism in the wake of Descartes. The pragmatist insistence that all knowledge is tentative is quite congenial to the older skeptical tradition.
Pragmatist theory of truth and epistemology
Pragmatism was not the first to apply evolution to theories of knowledge: Hilary Putnam would later call metaphysical realism), but it is realist in how it acknowledges an external world which must be dealt with.
Many of James' best-turned phrases—truth's cash value (James 1907, p. 200) and the true is only the expedient in our way of thinking (James 1907, p. 222)—were taken out of context and caricatured in contemporary literature as representing the view where any idea with practical utility is true. William James wrote:
In reality, James asserts, the theory is a great deal more subtle. (See Dewey 1910 for a 'FAQ')
The role of belief in representing necessarily true, nor is anything which helps to survive merely in the short term. For example, to believe my cheating spouse is faithful may help me feel better now, but it is certainly not useful from a more long-term perspective because it doesn't accord with the facts (and is therefore not true).
Pragmatism in other fields of philosophy
While pragmatism started out simply as a criterion of meaning, it quickly expanded to become a full-fledged epistemology with wide-ranging implications for the entire philosophical field. Pragmatists who work in these fields share a common inspiration, but their work is diverse and there are no received views.
Philosophy of science
In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments and progress in science cannot be couched in terms of concepts and theories somehow mirroring reality. Instrumentalist philosophers often define scientific progress as nothing more than an improvement in explaining and predicting phenomena. Instrumentalism does not state that truth doesn't matter, but rather provides a specific answer to the question of what truth and falsity mean and how they function in science.
One of C.I. Lewis' main arguments in Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge was that science does not merely provide a copy of reality but must work with conceptual systems and that those are chosen for pragmatic reasons, that is, because they aid inquiry. Lewis' own development of multiple modal logics is a case in point. Lewis is sometimes called a 'conceptual pragmatist' because of this. (Lewis 1929)
Another development is the cooperation of logical positivism and pragmatism in the works of Charles W. Morris and Rudolf Carnap. The influence of pragmatism on these writers is mostly limited to the incorporation of the pragmatic maxim into their epistemology. Pragmatists with a broader conception of the movement don't often refer to them.
W. V. Quine's paper "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", published 1951, is one of the most celebrated papers of twentieth-century philosophy in the analytic tradition. The paper is an attack on two central tenets of the logical positivists' philosophy. One is the distinction between analytic statements (tautologies and contradictions) whose truth (or falsehood) is a function of the meanings of the words in the statement ('all bachelors are unmarried'), and synthetic statements, whose truth (or falsehood) is a function of (contingent) states of affairs. The other is reductionism, the theory that each meaningful statement gets its meaning from some logical construction of terms which refers exclusively to immediate experience. Quine's argument brings to mind Peirce's insistence that axioms aren't a priori truths but synthetic statements.
Later in his life Schiller became famous for his attacks on logic in his textbook, Formal Logic. By then, Schiller's pragmatism had become the nearest of any of the classical pragmatists to an ordinary language philosophy. Schiller sought to undermine the very possibility of formal logic, by showing that words only had meaning when used in context. The least famous of Schiller's main works was the constructive sequel to his destructive book Formal Logic. In this sequel, Logic for Use, Schiller attempted to construct a new logic to replace the formal logic that he had criticized in Formal Logic. What he offers is something philosophers would recognize today as a logic covering the context of discovery and the hypothetico-deductive method.
Whereas F.C.S. Schiller dismissed the possibility of formal logic, most pragmatists are critical rather of its pretension to ultimate validity and see logic as one logical tool among others—or perhaps, considering the multitude of formal logics, one set of tools among others. This is the view of C.I. Lewis. C.S. Peirce developed multiple methods for doing formal logic.
Stephen Toulmin's The Uses of Argument inspired scholars in informal logic and rhetoric studies (although it is an epistemological work).
James and Dewey were empirical thinkers in the most straightforward fashion: experience is the ultimate test and experience is what needs to be explained. They were dissatisfied with ordinary empiricism because in the tradition dating from Hume, empiricists had a tendency to think of experience as nothing more than individual sensations. To the pragmatists, this went against the spirit of empiricism: we should try to explain all that is given in experience including connections and meaning, instead of explaining them away and positing sense data as the ultimate reality. Radical empiricism, or Immediate Empiricism in Dewey's words, wants to give a place to meaning and value instead of explaining them away as subjective additions to a world of whizzing atoms.
William James gives an interesting example of this philosophical shortcoming:
F.C.S. Schiller's first book, Riddles of the Sphinx, was published before he became aware of the growing pragmatist movement taking place in America. In it, Schiller argues for a middle ground between materialism and absolute metaphysics. These opposites are comparable to what William James called tough-minded empiricism and tender-minded rationalism. Schiller contends on the one hand that mechanistic naturalism cannot make sense of the "higher" aspects of our world. These include freewill, consciousness, purpose, universals and some would add God. On the other hand, abstract metaphysics cannot make sense of the "lower" aspects of our world (e.g. the imperfect, change, physicality). While Schiller is vague about the exact sort of middle ground he is trying to establish, he suggests that metaphysics is a tool that can aid inquiry, but that it is valuable only insofar as it does help in explanation.
In the second half of the twentieth century, Stephen Toulmin argued that the need to distinguish between reality and appearance only arises within an explanatory scheme and therefore that there is no point in asking what 'ultimate reality' consists of. More recently, a similar idea has been suggested by the postanalytical philosopher Daniel Dennett, who argues that anyone who wants to understand the world has to acknowledge both the 'syntactical' aspects of reality (i.e., whizzing atoms) and its emergent or 'semantic' properties (i.e., meaning and value).
Radical Empiricism gives interesting answers to questions about the limits of science if there are any, the nature of meaning and value and the workability of reductionism. These questions feature prominently in current debates about the relationship between religion and science, where it is often assumed—most pragmatists would disagree—that science degrades everything that is meaningful into 'merely' physical phenomena.
Philosophy of mind
Both John Dewey in Experience and Nature (1929) and half a century later Richard Rorty in his monumental Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) argued that much of the debate about the relation of the mind to the body results from conceptual confusions. They argue instead that there is no need to posit the mind or mindstuff as an ontological category.
Pragmatists disagree over whether philosophers ought to adopt a quietist or a naturalist stance toward the mind-body problem. The former (Rorty among them) want to do away with the problem because they believe it's a pseudo-problem, whereas the latter believe that it is a meaningful empirical question.
Pragmatism sees no fundamental difference between practical and theoretical reason, nor any ontological difference between facts and values. Both facts and values have cognitive content: knowledge is what we should believe; values are hypotheses about what is good in action. Pragmatist ethics is broadly humanist because it sees no ultimate test of morality beyond what matters for us as humans. Good values are those for which we have good reasons, viz. the Good Reasons approach. The pragmatist formulation pre-dates those of other philosophers who have stressed important similarities between values and facts such as Jerome Schneewind and John Searle.
William James' contribution to ethics, as laid out in his essay The Will to Believe has often been misunderstood as a plea for relativism or irrationality. On its own terms it argues that ethics always involves a certain degree of trust or faith and that we cannot always wait for adequate proof when making moral decisions.
Of the classical pragmatists, John Dewey wrote most extensively about morality and democracy. (Edel 1993) In his classic article Three Independent Factors in Morals (Dewey 1930), he tried to integrate three basic philosophical perspectives on morality: the right, the virtuous and the good. He held that while all three provide meaningful ways to think about moral questions, the possibility of conflict among the three elements cannot always be easily solved. (Anderson, SEP)
Dewey also criticized the dichotomy between means and ends which he saw as responsible for the degradation of our everyday working lives and education, both conceived as merely a means to an end. He stressed the need for meaningful labor and a conception of education that viewed it not as a preparation for life but as life itself. (Dewey 2004  ch. 7; Dewey 1997 , p. 47)
Dewey was opposed to other ethical philosophies of his time, notably the emotivism of Alfred Ayer. Dewey envisioned the possibility of ethics as an experimental discipline, and thought values could best be characterized not as feelings or imperatives, but as hypotheses about what actions will lead to satisfactory results or what he termed consummatory experience. A further implication of this view is that ethics is a fallible undertaking, since human beings are frequently unable to know what would satisfy them.
During the late 1900s and first decade of 2000, pragmatism was embraced by many in the field of bioethics led by the philosophers John Lachs and his student Glenn McGee, whose 1997 book "'The Perfect Baby: A Pragmatic Approach to Genetic Engineering'" (see designer baby) garnered praise from within classical American philosophy and criticism from bioethics for its development of a theory of pragmatic bioethics and it rejection of the principalism theory then in vogue in medical ethics. An anthology published by The MIT Press, "'Pragmatic Bioethics'" included the responses of philosophers to that debate, including Micah Hester, Griffin Trotter and others many of whom developed their own theories based on the work of Dewey, Peirce, Royce and others. Lachs himself developed several applications of pragmatism to bioethics independent of but extending from the work of Dewey and James.
A recent pragmatist contribution to meta-ethics is Todd Lekan's "Making Morality" (Lekan 2003). Lekan argues that morality is a fallible but rational practice and that it has traditionally been misconceived as based on theory or principles. Instead, he argues, theory and rules arise as tools to make practice more intelligent.
John Dewey's Art as Experience, based on the William James lectures he delivered at Harvard, was an attempt to show the integrity of art, culture and everyday experience. (Field, IEP) Art, for Dewey, is or should be a part of everyone's creative lives and not just the privilege of a select group of artists. He also emphasizes that the audience is more than a passive recipient. Dewey's treatment of art was a move away from the transcendental approach to aesthetics in the wake of Immanuel Kant who emphasized the unique character of art and the disinterested nature of aesthetic appreciation.
A notable contemporary pragmatist aesthetician is Joseph Margolis. He defines a work of art as "a physically embodied, culturally emergent entity", a human "utterance" that isn't an ontological quirk but in line with other human activity and culture in general. He emphasizes that works of art are complex and difficult to fathom, and that no determinate interpretation can be given.
Philosophy of religion
Both Dewey and James investigated the role that religion can still play in contemporary society, the former in A Common Faith and the latter in The Varieties of Religious Experience.
It should be noted, from a general point of view, that for William James, something is true only insofar as it works. Thus, the statement, for example, that prayer is heard may work on a psychological level but (a) may not help to bring about the things you pray for (b) may be better explained by referring to its soothing effect than by claiming prayers are heard. As such, pragmatism isn't antithetical to religion but it isn't an apologetic for faith either. James' metaphysical position however, leaves open the possibility that the ontological claims of religions may be true. As he observed in the end of the Varieties, his position does not amount to a denial of the existence of transcendent realities. Quite the contrary, he argued for the legitimate epistemic right to believe in such realities, since such beliefs do make a difference in an individual's life and refer to claims that cannot be verified or falsified either on intellecutal or common sensorial grounds.
Joseph Margolis, in Historied Thought, Constructed World (California, 1995), makes a distinction between "existence" and "reality". He suggests using the term "exists" only for those things which adequately exhibit Peirce's Secondness: things which offer brute physical resistance to our movements. In this way, such things which affect us, like numbers, may be said to be "real", although they do not "exist". Margolis suggests that God, in such a linguistic usage, might very well be "real", causing believers to act in such and such a way, but might not "exist".
Analytical, neoclassical, and neopragmatism
Neopragmatism is a broad contemporary category used for various thinkers, some of them radically opposed to one another. The name neopragmatist signifies that the thinkers in question incorporate important insights of, and yet significantly diverge from, the classical pragmatists. This divergence may occur either in their philosophical methodology (many of them are loyal to the analytic tradition) or in conceptual formation (C.I. Lewis was very critical of Dewey; Richard Rorty dislikes Peirce). Important analytical neopragmatists include the aforementioned Lewis, W. V. O. Quine, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, and the early Richard Rorty. Brazilian social thinker Roberto Unger advocates for a "radical pragmatism," one that 'de-naturalizes' society and culture, and thus insists that we can "transform the character of our relation to social and cultural worlds we inhabit rather than just to change, little by little, the content of the arrangements and beliefs that comprise them." Stanley Fish, the later Rorty and Jürgen Habermas are closer to continental thought.
Neoclassical pragmatism denotes those thinkers who consider themselves inheritors of the project of the classical pragmatists. Sidney Hook and Susan Haack (known for the theory of foundherentism) are well-known examples. Many pragmatist ideas (especially those of Peirce) find a natural expression in the decision-theoretic reconstruction of epistemology pursued in the work of Isaac Levi. Nicholas Rescher advocates his version of "methodical pragmatism" based on construing pragmatic efficacy not as a replacement for truths but as a means to its evidentiation.
Not all pragmatists are easily characterized. It is probable, considering the advent of postanalytic philosophy and the diversification of Anglo-American philosophy, that more philosophers will be influenced by pragmatist thought without necessarily publicly committing themselves to that philosophical school. Daniel Dennett, a student of Quine's, falls into this category, as does Stephen Toulmin, who arrived at his philosophical position via Wittgenstein, whom he calls "a pragmatist of a sophisticated kind" (foreword for Dewey 1929 in the 1988 edition, p. xiii). Another example is Mark Johnson whose embodied philosophy (Lakoff and Johnson 1999) shares its psychologism, direct realism and anti-cartesianism with pragmatism. Conceptual pragmatism is a theory of knowledge originating with the work of the philosopher and logician Clarence Irving Lewis. The epistemology of conceptual pragmatism was first formulated in the 1929 book Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge.
'French Pragmatism' is attended with theorists such as Bruno Latour, Michel Crozier, Luc Boltanski, and Laurent Thévenot. It is often seen as opposed to structural problems connected to the French Critical Theory of Pierre Bourdieu.
Legacy and contemporary relevance
In the twentieth century, the movements of logical positivism and ordinary language philosophy have similarities with pragmatism. Like pragmatism, logical positivism provides a verification criterion of meaning that is supposed to rid us of nonsense metaphysics, however, logical positivism doesn't stress action as pragmatism does. Furthermore, the pragmatists rarely used their maxim of meaning to rule out all metaphysics as nonsense. Usually, pragmatism was put forth to correct metaphysical doctrines or to construct empirically verifiable ones rather than to provide a wholesale rejection.
Ordinary language philosophy is closer to pragmatism than other philosophy of language because of its nominalist character and because it takes the broader functioning of language in an environment as its focus instead of investigating abstract relations between language and world.
Pragmatism has ties to process philosophy. Much of their work developed in dialogue with process philosophers such as Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead, who aren't usually considered pragmatists because they differ so much on other points. (Douglas Browning et al. 1998; Rescher, SEP)
Mead became a sociologist.
Pragmatism emphasizes the connection between thought and action. Not surprisingly, applied fields like public administration, political science, leadership studies, international relations, conflict resolution, and research methodology have incorporated the tenets of pragmatism in their field. Often this connection is made using Dewey and Addams's expansive notion of democracy.
Increasing attention is being given to pragmatist epistemology in other branches of the social sciences, which have struggled with divisive debates over the status of social scientific knowledge.
Enthusiasts suggest that pragmatism offers an approach which is both pluralist and practical.
Influence of pragmatism in public administration
The classical pragmatism of John Dewey, William James, and Charles Sanders Peirce has influenced research in the field of Public Administration. Scholars claim classical pragmatism had a profound influence on the origin of the field of public administration. At the most basic level, public administrators are responsible for making programs "work" in a pluralistic, problems-oriented environment. Public administrators are also responsible for the day-to-day work with citizens. Dewey's participatory democracy can be applied in this environment. Dewey and James' notion of theory as a tool, helps administrators craft theories to resolve policy and administrative problems. Further, the birth of American public administration coincides closely with the period of greatest influence of the classical pragmatists.
Which pragmatism (classical pragmatism or neo-pragmatism) makes the most sense in public administration has been the source of debate. The debate began when Patricia M. Shields introduced Dewey's notion of the Community of Inquiry. Hugh Miller objected to one element of the community of inquiry (problematic situation, scientific attitude, participatory democracy) – Scientific attitude. A debate that included responses from a practitioner, an economist, a planner, other public administration scholars, and noted philosophers followed. Miller and Shields also responded.
In addition, applied scholarship of public administration that assesses charter schools, contracting out or outsourcing, financial management, performance measurement, urban quality of life initiatives, and urban planning in part draws on the ideas of classical pragmatism in the development of the conceptual framework and focus of analysis.
The health sector's administrators' use of pragmatism, has been criticized as incomplete in its pragmatism, however. According to the classical pragmatists, knowledge is always shaped by human interests, and the administrator's focus on 'outcomes' simply advances their own interest, but that this focus on outcomes often undermines their citizen's interests, which often are more concerned with process. On the other hand, David Brendel argues that pragmatism's ability to bridge dualisms, focus on practical problems, include multiple perspectives, incorporate participation from interested parties (patient, family, health team), and provisional nature makes it well suited to address problems in this area.
Pragmatism and feminism
Since the mid 1990s, feminist philosophers have re-discovered classical pragmatism as a source of feminist theories. Works by Seigfried, Duran, Keith, and Whipps explore the historic and philosophic links between feminism and pragmatism. The connection between pragmatism and feminism took so long to be rediscovered because pragmatism itself was eclipsed by logical positivism during the middle decades of the twentieth century. As a result, it was lost from feminine discourse. The very features of pragmatism that led to its decline are the characteristics that feminists now consider its greatest strength. These are "persistent and early criticisms of positivist interpretations of scientific methodology; disclosure of value dimension of factual claims"; viewing aesthetics as informing everyday experience; subordinating logical analysis to political, cultural, and social issues; linking the dominant discourses with domination; "realigning theory with praxis; and resisting the turn to epistemology and instead emphasizing concrete experience". These feminist philosophers point to Jane Addams as a founder of classical pragmatism. In addition, the ideas of Dewey, Mead, and James are consistent with many feminist tenets. Jane Addams, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead developed their philosophies as all three became friends, influenced each other, and were engaged in the Hull-House experience and women’s rights causes.
Pragmatism and urbanism
One application of pragmatism that is being developed, is the one between pragmatism and urbanism/ urban transformation. A pragmatic approach to urban transformation values and evaluates the consequences of a design, rather than only considering the initial intentions. According to the pragmatic maxim, an object or conception can only be fully understood through its practical consequences. In an urban context this signifies how the implementation (and its effects) of a concept or design alters the overall understanding of the concept. Richard Rorty mentions that "a sea change" is occurring in recent philosophical thought – "a change so profound that we may not recognize that it is occurring." While the world that the movement is rooted in has had many changes, as a frame to perceive the world, pragmatism also has experienced different levels of modifications. Those changes are very relevant to the development of cities and basic themes, such as anti-foundationalism, fallibilism, community as inquirers, questioning the sharp distinction between theory and practice, pluralism, and democracy, of pragmatism may be applied to the urbanism even more strongly.
Vincent di Norcia argues that a pragmatic approach it is a suitable regarding social issues because it requires a conduct that resolves problems as it continuously assesses the practical consequences of a project. This secures the interest for the stakeholders and Norcia stresses the importance of social and cognitive pluralism. Social pluralism means that we should recognize all stake holder's interest that are affected by a certain decision, without putting weight on elite political or economic group's interests. As a complement Norcia also stresses cognitive pluralism, which indicates that one should include all kinds of knowledge that are relevant to a problem.
Arthur Oncken Lovejoy criticized pragmatism in his 1908 essay "The Thirteen Pragmatisms" where he identifies thirteen different philosophical positions that were each labeled pragmatism. Lovejoy argues that there is significant ambiguity in the notion of the consequences of the truth of a proposition and those of belief in a proposition in order to highlight that many pragmatists had failed to recognize that distinction.
Neopragmatism as represented by Richard Rorty has been criticized as relativistic both by neoclassical pragmatists such as Susan Haack (Haack 1997) and by many analytic philosophers (Dennett 1998). Rorty's early analytical work, however, differs notably from his later work which some, including Rorty, consider to be closer to literary criticism than to philosophy, and which, attracts the brunt of criticism from his detractors.
- see: Criticism texts, Further reading.
A list of pragmatists
Classical pragmatists (1850–1950)
Neoclassical pragmatists (1950–present)Neoclassical pragmatists stay closer to the project of the classical pragmatists than neopragmatists do.
Analytical, neo- and other pragmatists (1950–present)(Often labelled neopragmatism as well.)
Pragmatists in the extended sense
- American philosophy
- Charles Sanders Peirce bibliography
- Pragmatic theory of truth
- Pragmatism as an eighth tradition of Communication theory
- Scientific method#Pragmatic model
- New legal realism
- Biesta, G.J.J. & Burbules, N. (2003). Pragmatism and educational research. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
- πράσσω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
James, William (1898), "Philosophical Conceptions and Practical Results", delivered before the Philosophical Union of the University of California at Berkeley, August 26, 1898, and first printed in the University Chronicle 1, September 1898, pp. 287–310. Internet Archive Eprint. On p. 290:
I refer to Mr. Charles S. Peirce, with whose very existence as a philosopher I dare say many of you are unacquainted. He is one of the most original of contemporary thinkers; and the principle of practicalism or pragmatism, as he called it, when I first heard him enunciate it at Cambridge in the early [1870s] is the clue or compass by following which I find myself more and more confirmed in believing we may keep our feet upon the proper trail.James credited Peirce again in 1906 lectures published in 1907 as Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, see Lecture 2, fourth paragraph.
See James (1897), Will to Believe (which James dedicated to Peirce), see p. 124 and footnote via Google Books Eprint:
Indeed, it may be said that if two apparently different definitions of the reality before us should have identical consequences, those two definitions would really be identical definitions, made delusively to appear different merely by the different verbiage in which they are expressed.¹See also James's 1907 Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, Lecture 2, fourth paragraph.
¹ See the admirably original "Illustrations of the Logic of Science," by C. S. Peirce, especially the second paper, "How to make our Thoughts clear," [sic] in the Popular Science Monthly for January, 1878.
- In addition to James's lectures and publications on pragmatist ideas (Will to Believe 1897, etc.) wherein he credited Peirce, James also arranged for two paid series of lectures by Peirce, including the 1903 Harvard lectures on pragmatism. See pp. 261–4, 290–2, & 324 in Brent, Joseph (1998), Charles Sanders Peirce: A Life, 2nd edition.
- Peirce, C. S., "The Founding of Pragmatism", manuscript written 1906, published in The Hound & Horn: A Harvard Miscellany v. II, n. 3, April–June 1929, pp. 282–5, see 283–4, reprinted 1934 as "Historical Affinities and Genesis" in Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 11–13, see 12.
- Shook, John (undated), "The Metaphysical Club", the Pragmatism Cybrary. Eprint.
- Peirce, C. S. (1877), The Fixation of Belief, Popular Science Monthly, v. 12, pp. 1–15. Reprited often, including Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 358–87 and Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 109–23).
- Peirce, C. S. (1878), "How to Make Our Ideas Clear", Popular Science Monthly, v. 12, 286–302. Reprinted often, including Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 388–410 and Essential Peirce v. 1, 124–41. See end of §II for the pragmatic maxim. See third and fourth paragraphs in §IV for the discoverability of truth and the real by sufficient investigation.
- Peirce, on p p. 165–166 in "What Pragmatism Is", The Monist, v. XV, n. 2, April 1905, pp. 161–81, reprinted in Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 411–37, see 414.
Manuscript "A Sketch of Logical Critics", Essential Peirce v. 2, pp. 451–62, see pp. 457–8. Peirce wrote:
I have always fathered my pragmaticism (as I have called it since James and Schiller made the word [pragmatism] imply "the will to believe," the mutability of truth, the soundness of Zeno's refutation of motion, and pluralism generally), upon Kant, Berkeley, and Leibniz....
- Peirce, C. S. (1908) "A Neglected Argument for the Reality of God", Hibbert Journal 7, reprinted in Collected Papers v. 6, paragraphs 452–85, Essential Peirce v. 2, 434–50, and elsewhere. After discussing James, Peirce stated (Section V, fourth paragraph) as the specific occasion of his coinage "pragmaticism", journalist, pragmatist, and literary author Giovanni Papini's declaration of pragmatism's indefinability (see for example "What Is Pragmatism Like", a translation published in October 1907 in Popular Science Monthly v. 71, pp. 351–8, Google Books Eprint). Peirce in his closing paragraph wrote that "willing not to exert the will (willing to believe)" should not be confused with "active willing (willing to control thought, to doubt, and to weigh reasons)", and discussed his dismay by that which he called the other pragmatists' "angry hatred of strict logic". He also rejected their nominalist tendencies. But he remained allied with them about the falsity of necessitarianism and about the reality of generals and habits understood in terms of potential concrete effects even if unactualized.
- Peirce, C. S. (1868) "Questions Concerning Certain Faculties Claimed For Man", Journal of Speculative Philosophy v. 2, n. 2, pp. 103–114. Reprinted Collected Peirce v. 5, paragraphs 213–263, Writings v. 2, pp. 193–211, Essential Peirce v. 2, pp. 11–27, and elsewhere. Peirce.org Eprint. Google Books Eprint.
- Kasser, Jeff (1998), "Peirce's Supposed Psychologism" in Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, v. 35, n. 3, summer 1999, pp. 501–527. Arisbe Eprint.
- Peirce held that (philosophical) logic is a normative field, that pragmatism is a method developed in it, and that philosophy, though not deductive or so general as mathematics, still concerns positive phenomena in general, including phenomena of matter and mind, without depending on special experiences or experiments such as those of optics and experimental psychology, in both of which Peirce was active. See quotes under "Philosophy" at the Commens Dictionary of Peirce's Terms. Peirce also harshly criticized the Cartesian approach of starting from hyperbolic doubts rather than from the combination of established beliefs and genuine doubts. See the opening of his 1868 "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy v. 2, n. 3, pp. 140–157. Reprinted Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317, Writings v. 2, pp. 211–42, and Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55. Eprint.
- Peirce (1902), The Carnegie Institute Application, Memoir 10, MS L75.361-2, Arisbe Eprint.
- Peirce, C. S. (1868), "Some Consequences of Four Incapacities", Journal of Speculative Philosophy v. 2, n. 3, p p. 140–57, see opening pages. Reprinted Collected Papers v. 5, paragraphs 264–317, Writings v. 2, pp. 211–42, Essential Peirce v. 1, pp. 28–55. Peirce.org Eprint.
- Patricia M. Shields. 2008. "Rediscovering the Taproot: Is Classical Pragmatism the Route to Renew Public Administration?" Public Administration Review 68(2), 205–221
- Ansell, Christopher. 2011. Pragmatist Democracy: Evolutionary Learning as Public Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press
- Weber, Eric Thomas. 2013. Democracy and Leadership: On Pragmatism and Virtue. New York: Lexington Books.
- Ralston, Shane (Ed). 2013. Philosophical Pragmatism and International Relations: Essays for a Bold New World. New York: Lexington.
- Caspary, William. 2000. Dewey on Democracy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
- Shields, Patricia and Rangarjan, N. 2013. A Playbook for Research Methods: Integrating Conceptual Frameworks and Project Management. . Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press. Shields relies primarily on Dewey's logic of Inquiry.
- Stryker, S. (1980). Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version.. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing.
- Baert, P. (2004). "Pragmatism as a philosophy of the social sciences." European Journal of Social Theory, 7(3), 355–369.
- Cornish, F. & Gillespie, A. (2009). A pragmatist approach to the problem of knowledge in health psychology Journal of Health Psychology, 14(6), 1–10.
- Patricia M. Shields. 2008. Rediscovering the Taproot: Is Classical Pragmatism the Route to Renew Public Administration? Public Administration Review 68(2), 205–221
- Hildebrand, David L. 2008. Public Administration as Pragmatic, Democratic and Objective. Public Administration Review. 68(2), 222–229
- Shields, Patricia 2003. The community of Inquiry: Classical Pragmatism and Public Administration." Administration & Society 35(5): 510–538. abstract
- Miller, Hugh. 2004. "Why Old Pragmatism Needs an Upgrade. Administration & Society 36(2), 234–249.
- Stolcis, Gregory 2004. "A view from the Trenches: Comment on Miller's 'Why Old Pragmatism needs and upgrade" Administration & Society 36(3):326–369
- Webb, James "Comment on Hugh T. Miller's 'Why old Pragmatism needs and upgrade'. Administration & Society 36(4), 479–495.
- Hoch C. 2006. "What Can Rorty teach an old pragmatist doing public administration or planning? Administration & Society. 38(3):389–398. abstract
- Evans, Karen. 2005. "Upgrade or a different animal altogether?: Why Old Pragmatism Better Informs Public Management and New Pragmatism Misses the Point." Administration & Society 37(2), 248–255.
- Snider, Keith. 2005. Rortyan PRagmatism: 'Where's the beef' for public administration." Administration & Society 37(2), 243–247.
- Hildebrand, David. 2005. "Pragmatism, Neopragmatism and public administration." Administration & Society 37(3): 360–374. abstract
- Hickman, Larry 2004. "On Hugh T. Miller on 'Why old pragmatism needs an upgrade." Administration & Society 36(4):496–499.
- Miller, Hugh 2005. "Residues of foundationalism in Classical Pragmatism." Administration & Society. 37(3):345–359.
- Patricia M. Shields. 2004. "Classical Pragmatism: Engaging practitioner experience." Administration & Society, 36(3):351–361
- Patricia M. Shields. 2005. "Classical Pragmatism does not need an upgrade: Lessons for Public Administration." Administration & Society. 37(4):504–518. abstract
- Perez, Shivaun, "Assessing Service Learning Using Pragmatic Principles of Education: A Texas Charter School Case Study" (2000). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University Paper 76. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/76
- Alexander, Jason Fields, "Contracting Through the Lens of Classical Pragmatism: An Exploration of Local Government Contracting" (2009). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 288. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/288
- Bartle, John R. and Shields, Patricia M., "Applying Pragmatism to Public Budgeting and Financial Management" (2008). Faculty Publications-Political Science. Paper 48. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/polsfacp/48
- Wilson, Timothy L., "Pragmatism and Performance Measurement: An Exploration of Practices in Texas State Government" (2001). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 71. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/71
- Howard-Watkins, Demetria C., "The Austin, Texas African-American Quality of Life Initiative as a Community of inquiry: An Exploratory Study" (2006). Applied Research Projects. Texas State University. Paper 115. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/115
- Johnson, Timothy Lee, "The Downtown Austin Planning Process as a Community of inquiry: An Exploratory Study" (2008). Applied Research Projects. Paper 276. http://ecommons.txstate.edu/arp/276.
- Patricia M. Shields and Hassan Tajalli (2006), "Intermediate Theory: The Missing Link in Successful Student Scholarship," Journal of Public Affairs Education 12(3):313–334. https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/3967
- Patricia M. Shields (1998). "Pragmatism as a Philosophy of Science: A Tool for Public Administration," Research in Public Administration. Volume 4: 195–225. (Online.)
- Patricia M. Shields and Nandhini Rangarajan (2013). A Playbook for Research Methods: Integrating Conceptual Frameworks and Project Management. Stillwater, OK: New Forums Press.
- Gillespie, A. & Cornish, F. (2009). A pragmatist approach to the problem of knowledge in health psychology. Journal of Health Psychology, 14, 800–809
- Brendel, David. 2006. Healing Psychiatry: Bridging the Science/Humanism Divide. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Seigfried, C.H. (2001). Feminist interpretations of John Dewey. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press; Seigfried, C.H. (1996). Pragmatism and feminism: Reweaving the social fabric. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press; Seigfried, C. H. (1992). Where are all the pragmatists feminists? Hypatia, 6, 8–21.
- Duran, J. (2001). A holistically Deweyan feminism. Metaphilosophy, 32, 279–292. Duran, J. (1993). The intersection of pragmatism and feminism. Hypatia, 8
- Keith, H. (1999). Feminism and pragmatism: George Herbert Mead’s ethics of care. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 35, 328–344.
- Whipps, J. D. (2004). Jane Addams social thought as a model for a pragmatist-feminist communitarianism. Hypatia, 19, 118–113.
- Seigfried, C.H. (1996). Pragmatism and Feminism: Reweaving the Social Fabric. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. p. 21
- Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1958. "How to make our ideas clear", ed. Paul Weiss Charles Harthstorne. Vol. 7–8. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.
- Norcia, Vincent di. 2002. "Pluralism, pragmatism and social problems." Journal of Canadian Studies 37 (3): 239.
- "The Thirteen Pragmatisms, The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods, now The Journal of Philosophy, Part I, 2 January 1908, pp. 5–12. Part II, 16 January 1908, pp. 29–39
- in: Stanley Fish, There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, Oxford University Press, 1994.
- Ed. Morris Dickstein, Duke University Press, 1998
- Baldwin, James Mark (ed., 1901–1905), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, 3 volumes in 4, Macmillan, New York, NY.
- Dewey, John (1900–1901), Lectures on Ethics 1900–1901, Donald F. Koch (ed.), Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL, 1991.
- Dewey, John (1910), How We Think, D.C. Heath, Lexington, MA, 1910. Reprinted, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1991.
- Dewey, John (1929), The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, Minton, Balch, and Company, New York, NY. Reprinted, pp. 1–254 in John Dewey, The Later Works, 1925–1953, Volume 4: 1929, Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), Harriet Furst Simon (text. ed.), Stephen Toulmin (intro.), Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL, 1984.
- Dewey, John (1932), Theory of the Moral Life, Part 2 of John Dewey and James H. Tufts, Ethics, Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY, 1908. 2nd edition, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1932. Reprinted, Arnold Isenberg (ed.), Victor Kestenbaum (pref.), Irvington Publishers, New York, NY, 1980.
- Dewey, John (1938), Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY, 1938. Reprinted, pp. 1–527 in John Dewey, The Later Works, 1925–1953, Volume 12: 1938, Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), Kathleen Poulos (text. ed.), Ernest Nagel (intro.), Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL, 1986.
- James, William (1902), "Pragmatic and Pragmatism", 1 paragraph, vol. 2, pp. 321–322 in J.M. Baldwin (ed., 1901–1905), Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, 3 volumes in 4, Macmillan, New York, NY. Reprinted, CP 5.2 in C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers.
- James, William (1907), Pragmatism, A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, Popular Lectures on Philosophy, Longmans, Green, and Company, New York, NY.
- James, William (1909), The Meaning of Truth, A Sequel to 'Pragmatism, Longmans, Green, and Company, New York, NY.
- Lundin, Roger (2006) From Nature to Experience: The American Search for Cultural Authority Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
- Peirce, C.S., Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vols. 1–6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (eds.), vols. 7–8, Arthur W. Burks (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1931–1935, 1958. Cited as CP vol.para.
- Peirce, C.S., The Essential Peirce, Selected Philosophical Writings, Volume 1 (1867–1893), Nathan Houser and Christian Kloesel (eds.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN, 1992.
- Peirce, C.S., The Essential Peirce, Selected Philosophical Writings, Volume 2 (1893–1913), Peirce Edition Project (eds.), Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN, 1998.
- Putnam, Hilary (1994), Words and Life, James Conant (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
- Quine, W.V. (1951), "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", Philosophical Review (January 1951). Reprinted, pp. 20–46 in W.V. Quine, From a Logical Point of View, 1980.
- Quine, W.V. (1980), From a Logical Point of View, Logico-Philosophical Essays, 2nd edition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1980.
- Ramsey, F.P. (1927), "Facts and Propositions", Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 7, 153–170. Reprinted, pp. 34–51 in F.P. Ramsey, Philosophical Papers, David Hugh Mellor (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1990.
- Ramsey, F.P. (1990), Philosophical Papers, David Hugh Mellor (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
- Rescher, N. (1977), Methodological Pragmatism, Oxford: Blackwell, 1977.
- Rescher, N. (2000), Realistic Pragmatism, Albany, SUNY Press, 2000.
- John J. Stuhr, ed. One Hundred Years of Pragmatism: William James's Revolutionary Philosophy (Indiana University Press; 2010) 215 pages; Essays on pragmatism and American culture, pragmatism as a way of thinking and settling disputes, pragmatism as a theory of truth, and pragmatism as a mood, attitude, or temperament.
Important introductory primary texts
Note that this is an introductory list: some important works are left out and some less monumental works that are excellent introductions are included.
- C. S. Peirce, "The Fixation of Belief" (paper)
- C. S. Peirce, "How to Make Our Ideas Clear" (paper)
- C. S. Peirce, "A Definition of Pragmatism" (paper as titled by Menand in Pragmatism: A Reader, from Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce v. 8, some or all of paragraphs 191–195.)
- William James, Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (especially lectures I, II and VI)
- John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy
- John Dewey, "Three Independent factors in Morals" (lecture published as paper)
- John Dewey, "A short catechism concerning truth" (chapter)
- W. V. O. Quine, "Three Dogmas of Empiricism" (paper)
- Secondary texts
- Cornelis De Waal, On Pragmatism
- Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America
- Hilary Putnam, Pragmatism: An Open Question
- Abraham Edel, Pragmatic Tests and Ethical Insights
- D. S. Clarke, Rational Acceptance and Purpose
- Haack, Susan & Lane, Robert, Eds. (2006). Pragmatism Old and New: Selected Writings. New York: Prometheus Books.
- Louis Menand, ed., Pragmatism: A Reader (includes essays by Peirce, James, Dewey, Rorty, others)
- For a discussion of the ways in which Pragmatism offers insights into the theory and practice of urbanism, see: New York and London: Routledge, 2013. ISBN 978-0415837705Designing Urban TransformationAseem Inam, .
- Criticism texts
- Edward W. Younkins, Dewey's Pragmatism and the Decline of Education.
- Pragmatism, Ayn Rand Lexicon.
- Albert Schinz, Anti-Pragmatism: An Examination into the Respective Rights of Intellectual Aristocracy and Social Democracy. Boston: Small, Maynard and Company, 1909.
- IEP – Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- SEP – Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- James Sloan Allen. William James on Habit, Will, Truth, and the Meaning of Life. 2014.
- Elizabeth Anderson. Dewey's Moral Philosophy. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Douglas Browning, William T. Myers (Eds.) Philosophers of Process. 1998.
- Robert Burch. Charles Sanders Peirce. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- F. Thomas Burke. What Pragmatism Was. 2013.
- John Dewey. Donald F. Koch (ed.) Lectures on Ethics 1900–1901. 1991.
- Daniel Dennett. Postmodernism and Truth. 1998.
- John Dewey. The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action. 1929.
- John Dewey. Three Independent Factors in Morals. 1930.
- John Dewey. The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy and Other Essays. 1910.
- John Dewey. Experience & Education. 1938.
- Cornelis De Waal. On Pragmatism. 2005.
- Abraham Edel. Pragmatic Tests and Ethical Insights. In: Ethics at the Crossroads: Normative Ethics and Objective Reason. George F. McLean, Richard Wollak (eds.) 1993.
- Michael Eldridge. Transforming Experience: John Dewey's Cultural Instrumentalism. 1998.
- Lorenzo Fabbri. The domestication of Derrida: Rorty, pragmatism and deconstruction. 2008
- Richard Field. John Dewey (1859-1952). Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Peter H. Hare, Michel Weber, James K. Swindler, Oana-Maria Pastae, Cerasel Cuteanu (eds.), International Perspectives on Pragmatism, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 (ISBN 978-1-4438-0194-2).
- David L. Hildebrand. Beyond Realism & Anti-Realism. 2003.
- David L. Hildebrand. The Neopragmatist Turn. Southwest Philosophy Review Vol. 19, no. 1. January, 2003.
- William James. Pragmatism, A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking, Popular Lectures on Philosophy. 1907.
- William James The Will to Believe. 1896.
- George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. 1999.
- Todd Lekan. Making Morality: Pragmatist Reconstruction in Ethical Theory. 2003.
- C.I. Lewis. Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge. 1929.
- David Macarthur. “Pragmatism, Metaphysical Quietism and the Problem of Normativity,” Philosophical Topics Vol. 36 no.1, 2009.
- Keya Maitra. On Putnam. 2003.
- Joseph Margolis. Historied Thought, Constructed World. 1995.
- Louis Menand. The Metaphysical Club. 2001.
- Cheryl Misak (ed.) The New Pragmatists. Oxford University Press, 2007
- Hilary Putnam Reason, Truth and History. 1981.
- W.V.O. Quine. Two Dogmas of Empiricism. Philosophical Review. January 1951.
- W.V.O. Quine Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. 1969.
- N. Rescher. Process Philosophy. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
- Richard Rorty Rorty Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers. Volume 3. 1998.
- Stephen Toulmin. The Uses of Argument. 1958.
- Michel Weber (ed.), After Whitehead: Rescher on Process Metaphysics, Frankfurt / Paris / Lancaster, Ontos Verlag, 2004 (ISBN 3-937202-49-8).
- Michel Weber, Whitehead's Pancreativism. Jamesian Applications, Frankfurt / Paris, Ontos Verlag, 2011.
- William Egginton/Mike Sandbothe (Eds.) The Pragmatic Turn in Philosophy. Contemporary Engagement between Analytic and Continental Thought. 2004.
- Mike Sandbothe. Pragmatic Media Philosophy. 2005.
Papers and online encyclopedias are part of the bibliography. Other sources may include interviews, reviews and websites.
- Gary A. Olson and Stephen Toulmin. Literary Theory, Philosophy of Science, and Persuasive Discourse: Thoughts from a Neo-premodernist. Interview in JAC 13.2. 1993.
- Susan Haack. Vulgar Rortyism. Review in The New Criterion. November 1997.
- Pietarinen, A.V. “Interdisciplinarity and Peirce's classification of the Sciences: A Centennial Reassessment," Perspectives on Science, 14(2), 127–152 (2006).
- General sources
- Pragmatism at PhilPapers
- Pragmatism entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Pragmatism entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Pragmatism at the Indiana Philosophy Ontology Project
- Pragmatism on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
- A short film about the pragmatist revival on YouTube
- Journals and organizations
There are several peer-reviewed journals dedicated to pragmatism, for example
- Contemporary Pragmatism, affiliated with the International Pragmatism Society
- European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, affiliated with the (Italy)Associazione Culturale Pragma
- Nordic Studies in Pragmatism, journal of the Nordic Pragmatism Network
- Pragmatism Today, journal of the Central European Pragmatist Forum (CEPF)
- Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, journal of the Charles S. Peirce Society
- William James Studies, journal of the William James Society
- Other online resources and organizations
- Pragmatism Cybrary
- Arisbe: The Peirce Gateway
- Center for Dewey Studies
- (CEP)Centro de Estudos sobre Pragmatismo — Center for Pragmatism Studies (CPS) (Brazil)
- Charles S. Peirce Studies
- Dutch Pragmatism Foundation
Helsinki Peirce Research Center (Finland), including:
- Commens Dictionary of Peirce's Terms — see Pragmatism, Pragmaticism, and Pragmatism: Maxim of
- Institute for American Thought
- John Dewey Society
- Peirce Edition Project
- Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy