Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing
Chapter 32: Pragmatism
AbstractThe philosophy of Pragmatism encourages us to ask three fundamental questions about any governance situation: What is problematic? What values are at stake? And what is possible? Attentive to the problematic nature of governance, Pragmatists are vitally interested in the problem-solving strategies adopted by individuals and groups. This emphasis on problem-solving is sometimes read as a narrow instrumentalism, but a wider reading confirms Pragmatism’s deep humanistic concern about the source and fate of values. Public deliberation is regarded as fundamental for airing values, and deliberative democratic inquiry is viewed as an essential governance strategy for questioning, refining, and advancing them. Always alive to possibilities for creative action and learning, Pragmatism emphasizes the potential of experimentation to improve governance outcomes.
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