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Pragmatist Democracy$

Christopher Ansell

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199772438

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199772438.001.0001

Democratic Governance in a Pragmatist Key

(p.3) Chapter 1 Democratic Governance in a Pragmatist Key
Pragmatist Democracy

Christopher K. Ansell

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Public agencies are the nexus between democracy and governance. But they are often held in low regard, in part because they face a large gap between discretion (low) and responsibility (high). Pragmatist philosophy is a resource for imagining a more productive democratic role for public agencies. Pragmatism advances an evolutionary learning perspective, which is anti-dualist, problem-driven, reflexive, and deliberative. This evolutionary learning perspective offers a valuable framework for public philosophy and the social sciences.

Keywords:   public agencies, democracy, governance, pragmatism, learning

A simple and elegant logic defines the relationship between democracy and governance. Through fair and competitive elections, citizens signal how they would like to handle public concerns. Elected representatives then deliberate among themselves, crafting laws and programs to address those concerns; and public agencies then faithfully execute these laws and programs, effectively managing public problems. In theory, this logic creates a tight chain linking popular sovereignty to effective governance. In practice, the machinery of democratic governance is complex, and there is often considerable slippage from the civic ideal. When intractable public problems collide with the acrimony and distrust that characterize contemporary politics, the gears of effective democratic governance can become jammed.

Quite often this gnashing of gears seems to occur when public agencies must implement public policies. For different reasons, classical liberals, populists, and progressives are all critical of the administrative state. With their concern about limited government and upholding the rule of law, classical liberals are ever-vigilant against the tendencies of bureaucracies to take matters into their own hands and to turn their prerogatives into private gain. For populists, the problem is that delegation of public authority to bureaucracy threatens to subvert the public will with the cold and impersonal logic of faceless experts and bureaucrats. Progressives decry the politicization of bureaucracy and the tendency to subvert good science and rational decision-making to “partisan” politics. Across the political spectrum, people seem to believe that the bureaucracy is out of control, hidebound, politicized, democratically unresponsive, and morally vacuous (cf. Goodsell 1985; du Gay 2000).

Public agencies are at the nexus of democracy and governance. Democracy is the representative process of generating a legitimate mandate to rule, while (p.4) governance is the management of specific public problems. Public agencies are on the tail end of the chain of representation but on the front end of problem solving. In theory, these agencies carry out the will of the people, and we impose a range of organizational and legal constraints on them to guarantee their responsiveness. At the same time, we expect them to respond flexibly and efficiently to public problems. Public agencies are the democratic institutions that face the largest gap between discretion (low) and responsibility (high).

These tensions are manageable when agencies have clear political support for their mission and when their tasks are relatively straightforward. Three very general kinds of challenges have made the management of these tensions less tenable. The first challenge is the inexorable pluralization of politics and social life, which presents public agencies with highly differentiated constituencies and new demands for access and representation (Kooiman 2003). The second challenge is adversarial politics, driven by the high stakes of elections and the expansion of the advocacy sector (Kagan 2003; Dalton 2004). Agencies must now manage their business in an environment of divisive politics, in which their actions are scrutinized and challenged by opposing sides. The third challenge is the complexification of public problems, driven by the pace of technological change, the power and reach of markets, the scarcity of resources, and our tendency to layer new institutions upon the old (Stoker 2006). Complexity creates crosscutting and unpredictable forms of political and administrative interdependence, yielding increasingly “wicked” problems (Rittel and Webber 1973).

The combination of these factors leads to unproductive spirals of distrust.1 As agencies try to cope with complex problems, they must work with plural and mobilized publics who demand greater bureaucratic responsiveness to their concerns. These demands for responsiveness lead to attempts to increase political control over agencies, often reducing their discretion to cope with complex problems (Moe 1989). Their subsequent ineffectiveness undermines our faith that public institutions can solve problems. Failure is understood to be the result of poor management, conflicts of interest, bureaucratic sloth, or “red tape”—not the difficulty of coping with politically contentious publics and complex problems under significant constraints. The remedy has been to shift to “results-oriented” management, to greater transparency and accountability, or, ultimately, to privatization and markets. Since these “solutions” respond only to the symptoms of the deeper problem, it is not surprising that they rarely increase our trust in government.

To ameliorate these unproductive spirals of distrust, it is necessary to take a counterintuitive step for those who regard bureaucracy as the cause of these problems. It is necessary, in fact, to make a transition from seeing public agencies as the central problem to seeing them as a key part of the solution. Because they are at the nexus of democracy and governance, they must play a (p.5) more active role in managing the tension between representation and problem solving.2 Public agencies must become a central linchpin in building consent for public problem-solving.

To play this role, it is necessary to broadly rethink how administrative organizations function within democratic societies. Reconstructing this relationship requires a particular understanding of how institutions and organizations currently function and how they relate to the society around them. This process also requires intellectual resources for overcoming recurrent tensions between apparently incompatible alternatives and values. To do this reimagining, this book draws inspiration and guidance from the philosophy of Pragmatism.3 As a philosophy created to reconcile competing claims, Pragmatism provides intellectual resources and insights for managing the tensions between democracy and governance.

The book explores how the philosophy of Pragmatism can help us to confront the contemporary tension between democracy and governance. The last two decades have witnessed a major revival of the philosophy of Pragmatism, influenced by the work of Richard Bernstein, Jurgen Habermas, Hans Joas, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty, among many others (Dickstein 1998). This revival has led to renewed interest in the work of the founders of Pragmatist philosophy and to the resurrection of John Dewey as a major philosopher.4 This revival has also caught the attention of social scientists and led to the resurfacing of a considerable, though fragmented, tradition of Pragmatist thinking in the social sciences and professions (see the excursus on this tradition at the end of this chapter). Derived largely from the work of Charles Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead, this amalgam of Pragmatist philosophy and Pragmatist social science offers the basis for a powerful public philosophy.

Democratic Experimentalism

Pragmatism is a wide-ranging philosophy that encompasses logic, epistemology, aesthetics, political theory, psychology, education, and many other topics. Not surprisingly, it is difficult to encapsulate its essence in a few choice principles. Nevertheless, as will be developed in detail later in this chapter, Pragmatism is usefully described as a philosophy of evolutionary learning. It emphasizes the ability of both individuals and communities to improve their knowledge and problem-solving capacity over time through continuous inquiry, reflection, deliberation, and experimentation.

To describe the generic philosophical commitments of Pragmatism is one matter, but demonstrating how these elements might lead to a restructuring of the relationship between governance and democracy is another. Luckily, this (p.6) book can build on the work of many others in exploring the application of Pragmatist ideas to public affairs. Perhaps the most significant recent attempt to apply Pragmatism to the relationship between democracy and governance is the work of Charles Sabel, Michael Dorf, and others who have developed what they call “democratic experimentalism.” In the broadest statement of these ideas, Dorf and Sabel (1998) describe a system of governance that builds on the lessons learned from Japanese firms about continuous quality improvement. Interpreting these lessons in a Pragmatist light and transposing them to the public sphere, Dorf and Sabel describe public agencies engaged in continuous problem-solving experimentation that is characterized by benchmarking, collaboration, and reciprocal information-sharing and monitoring to reduce error (“learning by monitoring”).

To support this democratic experimentalism, Dorf and Sabel reinterpret the Madisonian theory of separation of powers. Public agencies operate in a federal system that enhances the pooling and sharing of information across jurisdictions, which is essential for effective benchmarking. The decentralized character of this federal system facilitates the direct, deliberative engagement of citizens in agency problem-solving (which Dorf and Sabel call “directly deliberative polyarchy”). Legislatures fund and authorize this experimentalism on the condition that agencies establish clear metrics against which to measure their success or failure. Courts ensure that these agencies meet constitutional and legal standards, guarantee human rights, and provide information necessary for citizens to judge experimental outcomes. Sabel and his colleagues have shown that what they call “democratic experimentalism” is already functioning in a number of public sectors, including American drug treatment courts (Dorf and Sabel 2000), child welfare agencies (Noonan, Sabel, and Simon 2009), and the European Union (Sabel and Zeitlin 2008).

To understand how this Pragmatist approach restructures the relationship between democracy and governance, consider an example that Dorf and Sabel use to illustrate democratic experimentalism—the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS). The CAPS refocused rank-and-file policing on problem solving at the community level, forming “beat teams” to work closely with neighborhoods in the identification of crime problems and solutions. These decentralized activities reported their problem-solving efforts to police headquarters, creating a mechanism for information pooling and benchmarking across neighborhoods (Dorf and Sabel 1998). Further analysis of this case of democratic experimentalism by Archon Fung (2001, 2004) argues that CAPS empowered ordinary citizens to directly and continuously participate in deliberative problem-solving. The “deep structure” of CAPS, according to Fung, is “accountable autonomy”: neighborhood efforts must have autonomy (p.7) to flexibly engage in problem solving, but they must also be held accountable by police headquarters.

A comprehensive thirteen-year review of CAPS (Chicago Community Policing Evaluation Consortium 2004; Skogan 2006) found that participation at neighborhood “beat meetings” increased dramatically in the early years of the program and then continued to increase gradually over the rest of the period. Observational studies also found that the quality of meetings improved over this period. The evaluation gives high marks to CAPS for increasing problem-solving accountability within the police force and for fostering active partnerships between the police and other city agencies. African American neighborhoods that had been plagued with problems at the beginning of the experiment reported significant improvements in neighborhood conditions over the period. Surveys also found that confidence in the fairness and effectiveness of the police increased significantly during the program. These gains in legitimacy increased across all racial and ethnic groups. By creating a new problem-solving strategy and a new relationship with the public, CAPS has produced a more virtuous cycle of trust building between the public and the police force.5

The Chicago police probably did not read Charles Peirce or John Dewey before inventing CAPS. Instead, their experiment grew out of a unique configuration of pressures, people, and institutions. Yet there are good reasons for interpreting CAPS against the wider backdrop of a philosophy like Pragmatism. To move beyond the unique conditions that produce such experiments, it is useful to identify the broader set of institutional and democratic mechanisms underpinning them. It is also important to articulate the broader ideas, principles, and values that might guide these experiments’ extension and refinement and that set standards for evaluating their success or failure. It is important to provide a more general intellectual framework in which the lessons learned from local experiments like CAPS can be absorbed and built on. Expanding on the literature on democratic experimentalism, as well as on many works of other scholars inspired by Pragmatism, this book tries to carve out and elaborate a distinctively Pragmatist public philosophy.

Pragmatism as Public Philosophy

Public philosophy stands somewhere between general philosophy and concrete engagement in public affairs. It is more concrete than general philosophy, because it searches for how to apply general ideas and principles to specific public issues. Yet it does not provide a detailed recipe for public action but rather aims to clarify the values and ideas that guide civic engagement. Articulating (p.8) this public philosophy requires showing that abstract ideas are concretely applicable, but also that the values and ideas inherent in public affairs are drawn out so they can be better expressed, understood, and debated.

To understand the logic of this book it is necessary to understand how carving out a space for a Pragmatist public philosophy requires not only distilling real-world lessons from Pragmatist philosophy but also articulating what is distinctly Pragmatist about the ways that scholars and practitioners already think about governance and democracy. In other words, Pragmatist public philosophy has to be pitched at the right level of generality in order to foster a conversation between general philosophical ideas and concrete public engagement. In moving from the abstract to the concrete, the test of these ideas is relevance and realism. Does this public philosophy have relevance for public affairs? And can we really imagine these ideas being useful in the world we live in? In identifying a Pragmatist interpretation of what scholars and practitioners are already saying about governance and democracy, the key criterion of success is conceptual coherence. Does the Pragmatist interpretation hold together in a reasonable and mutually reinforcing way?

Pragmatism has a family relationship with at least three other prominent public philosophies—Liberalism, Republicanism, and Communitarianism.6 In one sense, Pragmatism is compatible with all three of them, because it does not prescribe the specific ends (e.g., certain conceptions of distributive justice or equality) or means (e.g., state, market, or association) of our shared political life. Individual Pragmatists, of course, will not be neutral with respect to these values. But Pragmatism places greater value on the open-ended process of refining values and knowledge than on specifying timeless principles of what is right, just, or efficient. In this sense, it is possible to be a Liberal, Republican, or Communitarian Pragmatist. In another sense, this emphasis on the open-ended process of refining values and knowledge is precisely what makes Pragmatism distinctive. The three other public philosophies certainly do not preclude the value of learning and inquiry, but none of them make it a central or explicit feature of their public philosophy.

The value that Pragmatism places on continuing inquiry and learning ultimately encourages an alliance with social science.7 A public philosophy that takes inquiry seriously must be prepared to learn from social-scientific efforts to understand the social and political world. However, the orienting assumptions and concerns of different schools of social science are themselves suffused with public and private values.8 This is often desirable, because social science would otherwise have little meaning or relevance for public affairs. While public philosophy and social science should not be subordinated to one another, they need to be in conversation and this means that they have to speak each other’s language. One of the tasks of constructing a Pragmatist public (p.9) philosophy is therefore to articulate and distill some of the orienting assumptions and ideas of a Pragmatist social science. This means calling attention to the traditions of Pragmatist social science that already exist, while advancing new concepts and ideas that can enrich this tradition.

Thus, this book has the intertwined and reinforcing goals of articulating a Pragmatist public philosophy, applying it to the contemporary tensions between democracy and governance, and building a larger platform for a Pragmatist social science. These three goals are linked by Pragmatism’s distinctive model of evolutionary learning, which emphasizes the problem-driven, reflexive, and deliberative quality of social action. A Pragmatist public philosophy applies this model of evolutionary learning to public affairs, using it as an open-ended resource for reimagining the relationship between institutions, governance, and democracy. Evolutionary learning can also provide the orienting assumptions and concerns of a Pragmatist social science, thereby guiding and deepening inquiry into how individuals, institutions, and societies refine and improve their values and knowledge in a continuous fashion.

Pragmatism as Evolutionary Learning

The term “evolutionary learning” is used to call attention to Pragmatism’s distinctive melding of evolutionary ideas with a theory of learning.9 Pragmatism’s embrace of an evolutionary perspective is well known (Menand 2001), but its precise stance toward evolution is not always well appreciated (Hausman 1997; Popp 2007). Darwin had considerable influence on Pragmatism, but the Pragmatist model of evolution does not primarily emphasize natural selection and it opposes Social Darwinism.10 There is in Pragmatism, to be sure, the notion that evolution occurs through successful adaptation to the environment. But consistent with a learning model, Pragmatist evolution bears at least as strong a resemblance to Lamarckian as to Darwinian evolution.11 Pragmatism also appreciates evolutionary feedback effects (known as the “Baldwin Effect”) and emphasizes the cumulative nature of evolution.12

Pragmatism’s learning model builds on Peirce’s model of semiotics and inquiry and James’s and Dewey’s psychology (Kivinen and Ristelä 2003; Colapietro, Midtgarden, and Strand 2005). Many of Peirce’s investigations focused on how humans use signs to communicate and produce knowledge. Learning, for Peirce, took place in communities of inquiry that were self-conscious about how they used signs to structure inquiry. Peirce, James, and Dewey also stressed the experiential basis of learning, which arises from confrontation with concrete problems. They understood much experiential knowledge to be habitual and not subject to conscious reflection. However, experiential (p.10) learning is enhanced when people become reflexive about their own habitual knowledge, something Peirce dubbed “critical” commonsense. When this reflexivity is cultivated, it could become the basis for an experimental and inquiring approach to problem solving. When individuals and groups learn to use experimentation and inquiry to “reconstruct” their experiential knowledge and skills, this approach can lead to continuous learning or growth—to evolutionary learning.

It is one thing to value evolutionary learning and another thing to identify the conditions that support it. Much of Pragmatism is an exploration of the cognitive and social conditions that enable evolutionary learning. Historically, this exploration grew out of an attempt to break down the opposition between the two rival theories of knowledge—rationalism and empiricism. To do this, Pragmatism had to overcome a set of dualisms erected by this opposition—mind versus body, subject versus object, theory versus practice, and many others. This antidualism is a fundamental aspect of Pragmatism.13 Evolutionary learning is produced when different, even opposing, orders of things are yoked together in a synergistic manner.

Pragmatism suggests at least three strategies for yoking together opposing orders in a creative tension that Dewey called a “transaction” (Dewey and Bentley 1949; Garrison 2001; Vanderstraeten 2002). The first strategy is to emphasize the continuousness of phenomena. Peirce developed the idea of continuousness to reject what he called the “law of the excluded middle.” He argued that the boundary that marked one thing from another was ill-defined and phenomena were continuous rather than discrete.14 Perhaps the most well-known description of continuousness in the Pragmatist corpus is James’s description of consciousness as a continuous stream (the “stream of consciousness”). By emphasizing continuousness, a dualistic opposition is often transformed into a whole-part or a figure-ground relationship.

The second way that Pragmatism overcomes dualism is to introduce a third dimension that sets up a mediated relationship between opposing elements. Peirce’s theory of categories, signs, and semiotics is well known for introducing this third dimension (Hookway 1985, 130–134; 2000, 97–103).15 In the same spirit, Dewey emphasized the role of habit as a form of mediation between impulse and intelligence; and Mead uses the idea of the “generalized other” to describe the dynamic interaction between self and society. All three Pragmatists regarded triadic intermediation as producing a developmental dynamic.16

The most important way Pragmatism yokes opposing elements together is to insist on a tight coupling between meaning and action. Contemporary social science often confronts us with a choice between the utilitarian and consequentialist approach of rational choice theory and the ideational and symbolic approach of constructivism and postmodernism. Like rational (p.11) choice theory, pragmatism emphasizes the instrumental “problem-solving” nature of human behavior (Knight and Johnson 1999). Yet like constructivism and postmodernism, Pragmatism perceives human activity as fundamentally “symbolic” in nature (Blumer 1969; Rochberg-Halton 1986). To align the practical and the symbolic, Pragmatism emphasizes that meaning is discovered through action, not in timeless foundations prior to action.17

Pragmatism’s antidualism identifies three generative conditions for evolutionary learning: a problem-driven perspective, reflexivity, and deliberation.

Problem-Driven Perspective. Problems disrupt existing assumptions and call for fresh discovery. They pin disputes about knowledge, principles, and values down to particulars (the problematic situation is the triadic dimension) and they focus our attention on action and consequences. Although received wisdom guides us in problem solving, meaning is never fully determined prior to action. Problem solving must be probative, exploring the relevance and value of inherited ideas while anticipating the discovery of new meaning. The uncertainty inherent in problem solving calls for creative action.18 A “problem-solving” attitude is not merely practical; it drives evolutionary learning by subjecting received knowledge, principles, and values to continuous revision.

Reflexivity. Problems also prompt critical and self-conscious reflection. For Peirce and Dewey, reflexive learning occurs when people are able to critically scrutinize their own common sense or habits. The most sophisticated form of reflexivity occurs when individuals or groups come to appreciate how their choices shape the subsequent development of their own character and competence. This requires attention to how the choice of “means” shapes subsequent “ends” and to how present problem solving can “scaffold” competencies for future problem solving.19 It also requires increasing sensitivity to how problem solving creates opportunities to discover and refine value. A Pragmatist model of evolutionary learning calls for us to become increasingly reflexive about the trajectory of our own experience.

These ideas help us appreciate how Pragmatism departs from a strictly utilitarian or consequentialist model.20 For Pragmatism, what ultimately counts is not narrowly “what works” but the meaningfulness of action. As Steven Feshmire describes the Pragmatist stance: “What is most at stake in moral life is not some quantifiable pleasure and pain but what kind of person one is to become and what kind of world one is to develop” (2003, 76). Actions take on enhanced meaning through the cultivation of an emergent sense of purpose. As Hugh McDonald writes in his discussion of a Pragmatist environmental ethics: “The goals of action give meaning to present activity” (2004, 94). These ideas are central to Pragmatism’s attitude toward human growth and progress.21

Deliberation. The term “deliberation” has two interrelated meanings for Pragmatism. The first refers to the reflexive inquiry produced by the clash of (p.12) different, sometimes incommensurate, perspectives (Bohman 1999; Misak 2000).22 The second is related to the centrality of communication for creating new knowledge and intersubjective meaning (Duncan 1968; Vanderstraeten and Biesta 2006; Carey 2009). Pragmatist deliberation emphasizes the role of communication in probing, adjudicating, and bridging these differences. In problematic situations, communication coordinates joint action and inquiry, and this communication can produce jointly constructed meanings that can reshape prior beliefs and goals of the communicators (Talisse 2005; Englund 2006; Vanderstraeten and Biesta 2006; Russill 2008).

Two important aspects of Pragmatist deliberation are rarely sufficiently juxtaposed. The first aspect is well known: the stress on communication leads Pragmatists to showcase the communal or public basis of inquiry. Peirce’s ideas about “communities of inquiry” and Dewey’s analysis of “publics” exemplify this aspect. Both philosophers point to the value of widening the community or public—Peirce in his law of large numbers (Menand 2001) and Dewey in his inclusion of those indirectly affected by the consequences of others’ actions in his definition of a public. The second aspect is the value placed on the directness of communication, which celebrates the deliberative value of face-to-face communication. This is the real meaning behind Dewey’s valorization of small communities, which is sometimes treated as anachronistic by his critics. Small-town life merely exemplifies direct, face-to-face communication.

Evolutionary learning occurs when these three generative conditions—a problem-driven perspective, reflexivity, and deliberation—work together in a recursive cycle. Problems generate reflection, which generates deliberation, which may produce a refined definition of the problem. When individuals or collectivities take control of this learning cycle, we can refer to it as “experimentalism.” As the debate over Campbell’s “experimenting society” suggests, the assumptions behind an “experimental” approach to public affairs are controversial and frequently criticized as overly positivistic or unrealistic (Campbell 1969, 1970, 1982; Shaver and Staines 1971; Dunn 1982, 2002). Pragmatism, however, understands “experimental” quite broadly to mean a self-conscious and purposeful approach to learning, rather than in the more restrictive sense of a randomized controlled experiment.23 Pragmatist experimentation treats problems as deliberate opportunities for learning.

Pragmatism departs from a strictly positivist view of experimentation by emphasizing the provisional, probative, creative, and jointly constructed character of social experimentation. Pragmatism acknowledges the uncertainty and ambiguity inherent in problems and the partial perspectives we bring to bear on them.24 The results of inquiry are treated as fallible and, therefore, as provisional. Recognition of uncertainty and ambiguity leads to a probative (p.13) stance: much of what inquiry does is to structure and define problems in such a way that we can make progress on them. This calls for skill and creativity. Dewey’s account of reflexivity, for example, stresses that experimentation is often a form of “dramatic rehearsal” in which possible lines of action are imagined and tentatively evaluated. Pragmatism also stresses how symbols mediate the process of inquiry, implying that experimentation often requires the invention of new concepts. Peirce’s account of experimentation, for example, emphasizes the value of forming new hypotheses—abductions—in uncertain situations. As a form of deliberative inquiry, Pragmatist experiments produce jointly constructed hypotheses and “metrics” that allow different parties to judge whether the experiment has been a success. To structure a problem as an experiment therefore requires a deliberative and creative process of forming hypotheses and metrics that can be evaluated in reference to the outcomes of specific problem-solving strategies.

Drawing antidualism together with problem orientation, reflexivity, and deliberation, Pragmatist evolutionary learning is characterized by four seemingly paradoxical principles: progressive conservatism, cosmopolitan localism, analytical holism, and processual structuralism.

Progressive Conservatism. For Pragmatism, meaning is both cumulative and continuously revised.25 New principles and values discovered in action are integrated into received wisdom or used to reconstruct it. Pragmatism’s progressive credentials are often celebrated (West 1989), notably in the form of Dewey’s progressive model of education, Peirce’s faith in science, James’s claims for meliorism, and Mead’s developmental model of the child. But the Pragmatists also stressed the central importance of habit, which conserves past experience. Evolutionary learning requires the continuous refinement of habit. As Koopman writes of the Pragmatist view of progress (meliorism): “[it] consists in simultaneously accepting and criticizing our inherited traditions” (2006, 109).

Cosmopolitan Localism. Learning is produced by shifting back and forth between local and cosmopolitan perspectives. Reflexivity, for example, implies the adoption of a “meta-perspective” from which people can evaluate their own habits and beliefs. The cosmopolitan level is associated with more abstract principles and ideas; the local level is associated with the concrete and continuous experience of action. However, no sharp separation of theory and practice is implied but rather a cycling between local and cosmopolitan perspectives. We see this same principle at work in Pragmatist communication, which juxtaposes broad public and face-to-face communication.

Analytical Holism. Pragmatism joins analysis and synthesis closely together. In How We Think, Dewey writes: “Synthesis is the operation that gives extension and generality to an idea, as analysis makes meaning distinct. Synthesis is (p.14) correlative to analysis” (1910, 158). Learning occurs when greater situational specificity of meaning and action (analysis) advances in concert with wider integration of meaning and action (synthesis). Analytical holism is an important feature of Pragmatist problem-solving. Problem solving is not merely the pursuit of an (analytical) solution to a single problem but also a probing (synthetic) exploration of a larger set of values.26 Thus, problem solving leads not only to a solution but also to the ongoing reconstruction and integration of this knowledge.

Processual Structuralism. Structure is emergent from process, but processes are scaffolded by structure.27 Pragmatism’s focus on action and activity and on the continuous revision of meaning leads to an emphasis on process, while the focus on cumulative knowledge, on habit, and on mediated action lead to an emphasis on structure. James provided the most enduring metaphor for processual structuralism in his description of life as a set of “flights and perchings.” But Dewey provided the most concrete and practical version in his discussion of the ongoing development of habit. For Dewey, a habit is a structure upon which higher-order processes (reflective intelligence) can build. But these higher-order processes can then actively reconstruct habit. Veblen’s cumulative causation and Baldwin’s feedback effects become important here: reflexive intelligence means that we judge present action and anticipated consequences in terms of how they will structure our future selves.

To conclude, Pragmatism conceptualizes evolutionary learning in a particular way. Evolutionary learning is both experiential and mediated by symbols. Meaning is linked closely to action by focusing on problem solving. Symbols are tools for problem solving, but the uncertainty of problems means that they are treated as provisional (fallible). Problem solving is probative (oriented toward discovery of value through action) and creative (hypothesis-forming or abductive), traits that lead to an experimental and inquiring approach to problems. The lessons, skills, and values learned in problem solving are cumulative, but they are also constantly tested, investigated, and revised (progressive conservatism). Learning requires us to shift perspectives in order to reflect critically upon our own experiences and ideas (cosmopolitan localism); to move back and forth between analysis and synthesis (analytical holism); and to become self-conscious about how habits, experience, and ideas scaffold future learning and growth (processual structuralism). Taken together, these features encourage us to cultivate our own character and competence and to view problems as opportunities to enhance the meaningfulness of our actions. Hereafter, this distinctive conception of evolutionary learning will be referred to as “Pragmatist learning.” The rest of the book will be devoted to exploring how this concept can help us to reimagine the relationship between democracy and governance.

(p.15) An Overview of the Book

In the chapters that follow, the ideas of evolutionary learning are applied to three core aspects of the relationship between democracy and governance: public learning, bureaucratic organization, and political accountability and consent. As suggested by the CAPS experiment described above, public learning is possible where public agencies can engage in joint problem-solving with society. A joint problem-solving approach, however, is quite difficult to achieve under status quo conditions. The bureaucratic and hierarchical structure of most public agencies may be designed to make them responsive to the public will but it is ill-suited for meaningful problem-solving engagement with the public. Our conception of public agencies as lying on the receiving end of a long chain of democratic representation makes it difficult to relax these bureaucratic and hierarchical constraints. For public agencies to serve as focal points for public learning, they have to function differently as organizations. To do this, new strategies for achieving democratic accountability and consent have to be developed and expanded.

As stated above, this work seeks to establish a wide intellectual vantage point from which to examine these issues. The book begins with a general discussion of institutions, with chapters 2 and 3 arguing that institutions are a critical medium of public learning. Institutions are repositories of experience and knowledge as well as tools for collective action and problem solving. Our current theoretical frameworks for thinking about institutions, however, are more likely to point to how institutions inhibit learning than to how they can support it. Building on a substantial Pragmatist tradition of studying institutions, chapters 2 and 3 conceive of an institutional theory in terms that help to capture the mechanisms and dynamics of Pragmatist learning. Institutions are defined in terms of an interaction between concepts and experience. This interaction can be both conservative and progressive. Concepts and experience accumulate; but they can also be continually revised as people confront new situations and problems. From the perspective of Pragmatist learning, institutions can neither be viewed as simply subject to “rational design,” where institutions are treated as objects that can be manipulated without regard for how they are embedded in social life, nor, conversely, as “congealed taste,” where institutions represent timeless customs and values. Institutions are subject to collective control and revision, but processes of institutional design must be closely attentive to way that institutions are complexly “scaffolded” by webs of related institutions.

Chapters 4 (“Organization”) and 5 (“Problem Solving”) extend this institutional learning model by developing a Pragmatist approach to individual and organizational problem-solving. As described in chapter 4, a problem-solving (p.16) view of institutions is explicit in Philip Selznick’s work, particularly in his book on “responsive law” (Nonet and Selznick 2001). But problem solving has rarely been developed into an explicit aspect of institutional theory.28 While institutions must all routinely confront problems, a Pragmatist approach would suggest that many institutions are not systematically oriented toward problem solving and are often significantly constrained in their ability to engage in creative problem-solving. Public organizations have problems, but they are not particularly oriented toward solving them. Even when they solve problems on an ad hoc basis, problem solving is rarely developed into a more systematic strategy. Chapter 5 builds on current work on policing and regulation to argue that problem solving can be strategically developed as an approach to public management.

Joint problem-solving between public agencies and the public must be supported by a transformation of the hierarchical and bureaucratic character of large-scale organizations. As described in chapter 4, hierarchy implies a situation where decisions are made in a top-down, command-oriented way. Bureaucracy is an organization that relies on impersonal rules to achieve coordination and control. The model of bureaucracy described by sociologist Max Weber combines both hierarchy and bureaucracy into a single bureaucratic organization, which is often seen as exemplifying how modern public administration works. Much of the contemporary public administration and governance literature suggests the need to break away from Weberian bureaucracy (Barzelay 1992; Osborne and Gaebler 1992; cf. Lynn 2001; Olsen 2006). Moving from hierarchy to markets and networks or from bureaucracy to “post-bureaucracy” and “public entrepreneurialism” is seen as an antidote to red tape. Results should take precedence over rules.

The desire to escape the pathologies of bureaucratic organization, however, potentially throws out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Organization theorists have argued for a long time that there are many forms of hierarchy and more than one way that rules can relate to action (Gouldner 1955a; Burns and Stalker 1961; Chandler 1962; Simon 1962; Landau and Stout 1979; Sabel 1994, 1999; Adler and Borys 1996; Stinchcombe 2001). Instead of arguing to replace top-down bureaucracy with bottom-up entrepreneurialism, this book uses Pragmatism to think about whether public administration can achieve a creative synthesis between them. Fortunately, this book can stand on the shoulders of giants. Chapter 4 argues that Mary Parker Follett and Philip Selznick anchor a powerful Pragmatist tradition in the study of large-scale organization. Selznick’s important contribution is to help us think about how informal and formal elements of organizations must be fused together to make bureaucratic institutions into effective communities. He argues, in a Pragmatist spirit, that such a fusion requires the cultivation of organizational purpose (p.17) through the development of a meaningful mission. Follett’s contribution is to describe a type of “relational” authority that differs from top-down command.

Pragmatism does not merely seek to replace “hierarchy” or “bureaucracy” with flat, entrepreneurial organization but rather to harness the values of decentralization and bottom-up initiative to the values of centralization and hierarchical steering. Cosmopolitan localism, as introduced in the discussion of Pragmatist learning, suggests that relational authority can work, recursively, by moving back and forth between a bottom-up and a top-down perspective. This logic leads to a model of “constitutional hierarchy,” where organizational leaders specialize in setting broad policy goals and guarding organizational values but do so in constant and direct interaction with the street-level bureaucrats who implement policy. Building on Dewey’s discussion of the relationship between reflective intelligence, habit, and impulse in Human Nature and Conduct, chapter 6 (“Recursiveness”) describes how agencies can expand their capacities for problem solving by bringing top-level executives into close and direct communication with street-level bureaucrats. The New York Police Department’s Compstat system is used as an example of this recursive process.

Pragmatist learning values the growth of problem-solving competence and capacity. Building on the work of Selznick and Follett, the Pragmatist model of large-scale organization greatly values the cultivation of individual and organizational problem-solving competencies. Too often, we think of administrative agencies in accounting terms, as allocations of resources to achieve narrowly delimited functions. Building on the Pragmatist idea of learning as the growth of capacity and competence, we can think of agencies as “skill sets” and “problem-solving capacities” that may need to be mobilized for a range of tasks not always delimited ahead of time.29 This does not mean that agencies should receive unlimited grants of resources to expand skills and capabilities. But our conception of agencies as bundles of skills must be made more robust. We must think of agencies in historical terms as communities that have developed complex skills and strategies based on prior learning.

Organizational transformation of public agencies cannot easily occur without a fundamental change in the relationship between agencies and democratic publics. As described at the outset of this chapter, the traditional model of representation regards public agencies as the final link in a chain of representation that begins with the electorate, moves on to the legislature, then to appointed agency officials, and finally reaches the street-level bureaucrat. As an exclusive model of consent, this logic creates many of our current governance problems. Pragmatism suggests a complementary model of democratic consent that mirrors the pattern of problem solving.

Pragmatists like John Dewey, Mary Parker Follett, and Jane Addams all argued that elections and majoritarianism are not a sufficient basis of (p.18) democratic consent. To say that representative institutions are insufficient, however, is not to say that they are unnecessary. The point is to complement traditional channels of representation with more direct and deliberative forms of consent building focused on problem solving. Although public agencies are not the sole site of deliberation, participation, expertise, or problem solving, they comprise a relatively unique place where these values can be brought together. They are the linchpin between popular sovereignty expressed through elections and local problem-solving efforts.

Public agencies can serve as a linchpin of democracy because they can build up societal consent for policies through effective local problem solving and institutional revision. The book does not claim that they do this alone or exclusively, only that they are well positioned to play this role. As Bohman writes of Pragmatist deliberation:

Dewey does not believe that merely introducing genuine public debate and discussion within individualist methods will be sufficient to overcome the crisis of democracy. Unorganized discussion alone, no matter how free and open, generates only the class of opposite opinions. (1999, 593)

Public organizations working on solving specific public problems, however, create opportunities for focused and organized civic engagement. They are focal points for the creation of problem-solving publics.

For some, assigning public agencies a consent-building role will be regarded as advocating “administrative corporatism” and will raise the specter of “private” law-making (Lowi 1969). Such a charge stems from an ideal view of popular sovereignty as unitary and indivisible. By contrast, Pragmatism envisions the possibility of building up consent more organically, in an evolutionary fashion, around overlapping problem-solving efforts. This argument is developed in detail in the chapter on consent (chapter 8).

Armed with the idea that agencies must be problem-solving communities and that their role is, in part, to expand societal consent for creative problem-solving and widen the sphere of responsibility for problems, we are brought to the idea of collaborative governance. In models of collaborative governance, public agencies directly engage stakeholders in agency decision-making in order to better solve public problems and to create broad-based consent for agency policy. Chapter 9 develops a Pragmatist interpretation of collaborative governance as a strategy for creating problem-solving publics.

To grant public agencies discretion to engage in problem solving and to change their relationship with external publics, we must entertain the problem of bureaucratic power and accountability. While not unmindful that power (p.19) needs to be checked, this book works against the popular clamor for greater bureaucratic oversight and accountability. While some measures of oversight, accountability, and transparency are certainly necessary, these measures can easily produce more costs than benefits. And while often portrayed as antidotes to citizen mistrust of government, they often deepen our distrust. As argued in chapter 7 (“Power and Responsibility”), Pragmatism would place more emphasis on cultivating responsibility than on ensuring accountability.

Responsibility is not a Kantian imperative. From a Pragmatist perspective, responsibility has to be built and institutionalized, which means that there is no escaping the issue of political power. Chapter 7 builds a Pragmatist perspective on power, which focuses on how power is tamed or civilized. While a Pragmatist view of power has some affinity with a Madisonian model of the separation of powers, it would add a triadic element—a third party that can adjudicate the countervailing claims of separate powers. Following Dewey, this third party is envisioned to be a “public” that can deliberate about shared values and goals. Civilizing power calls for building up the capacity of publics to deliberate and adjudicate (Dewey 1927; Fung 2002).

If we draw these ideas about public agencies and democracy together, they add up to a distinctive Pragmatist approach to democracy that the concluding chapter will call “problem-solving democracy.” To make public agencies a linchpin of this problem-solving democracy may seem a very radical shift. Yet it is important to realize that public agencies are thrust into this role anyway. The real tension is between our constitutional and democratic theory of popular sovereignty and the way public life works in practice, albeit in a less than optimal fashion. The tension between theory and practice is expressed in the spiraling distrust between citizens and the state. As a framework for social science and public philosophy, Pragmatism helps us imagine how to bring theory and practice together.

Excursus: Pragmatism, Social Science, and the Applied Professions

Beyond Pragmatism as philosophy, there is a deep—if ultimately unfocused—tradition of Pragmatist thinking in the social sciences and in the professions (Joas 1993). James’s Principles of Psychology was once the leading textbook on psychology; and Dewey’s article “The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology” was once one of the most frequently cited articles in that field. So it is not surprising to find a Pragmatist tradition in psychology.30 Yet, arguably, Dewey and Mead had even more influence in sociology, where they were a central influence in the development of the Chicago School of Sociology and (p.20) symbolic interactionism.31 In economics, American institutional economics was fundamentally shaped by Pragmatism (Tool 1977; Mirowski 1987; Bush 1989; Liebhafsky 1993). One of the towering figures of that tradition, Thorstein Veblen, was a student of Peirce’s at Johns Hopkins (Hall and Whybrow 2008). Other leading institutional economists, including John Commons, Wesley Mitchell, and Clarence Ayres, were strongly influenced by Dewey (Pickens 1987; Smith 1994; Webb 2002).32 In anthropology, systematic influence is harder to find, but major figures like Franz Boas (Lewis 2001) and Victor Turner (Turner 1986) were influenced by Pragmatism.

In political science, one of the founders of modern political science, Arthur Bentley, collaborated closely with Dewey (Dewey and Bentley 1949; Ratner, Altman, and Wheeler 1964). Other important figures in early American political science, like Herbert Croly and Charles Merriam, were also influenced by Pragmatism (Neblo 2004). More contemporary exponents of Pragmatist ideas include Charles Lindblom (Lindblom and Cohen 1979) and Charles Sabel (Dorf and Sabel 1998). Pragmatism has also had a strong influence on political theory, in part through the work of Harold Laski (Da Silva 2008), Sidney Hook (Talisse 2001), Jurgen Habermas (Aboulafia, Bookman, and Kemp 2002), and Roberto Unger (2004). Democratic theorists have expressed great interest in Dewey’s work in recent years.33

In more applied disciplines, Pragmatism has always had some important influences.34 In legal theory, Oliver Wendell Holmes was one of the original members of the famous Metaphysical Club, along with Peirce and James (Menand 2001; Haack 2005). But Pragmatism also had an important influence on legal theorists like Roscoe Pound and on important practitioners like Louis Brandeis (Wang 2005; Berk 2009) and Benjamin Cardozo.35

There has been significant discussion about the influence of Pragmatism on public administration.36 Waldo’s classic discussion of the philosophical bases of American public administration suggested limited exposure (Waldo 1948), and Snider (2000a, 2000b) has explored the reasons for this limited influence. Other authors, however, have seen more influence (McSwite 1997).37 Whatever the basis for Pragmatism’s historical influence, there has been a flurry of recent interest in Pragmatism in public administration.38

The impressive breadth of this influence across the social sciences and professional disciplines suggests that Pragmatism could serve as a powerful platform for engagement across the fragmented social sciences, linking the social sciences to a public philosophy that values social learning, civic communication, and democracy.39 A close examination of these influences, however, suggests that the different disciplines draw quite selectively on Pragmatism. The democratic theorists, for instance, rely primarily on Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems, fashioning him as either a deliberative (Bohman 1999), participatory (p.21) (Shields 2003), or radical democrat (Knight and Johnson 2007). Others focus on Dewey’s “science of democracy,” emphasizing the link between science and democracy (Smiley 1989; Morris 1999; Festenstein 2001) or his “experimentalism” (Dorf and Sabel 1998; MacGilvray 1999). It is less clear whether democratic theorists have much in common with scholars in other disciplines who, for example, stress the importance of Peirce’s semiotics (Kevelson 1990), Dewey’s model of habit (Cohen 2007), or Mead’s theory of the self (Wiley 1994).

The very richness of Pragmatism is therefore sometimes a barrier to wider traffic among disciplines. The Pragmatist genealogy is also uneven. In some areas, Pragmatist influences are largely of historical interest; in other cases, these influences have been marginalized or subsumed by other disciplinary developments; and in still others, there has been a strong revival of Pragmatist thinking or a quite recent recognition of the potential value of a Pragmatist perspective. To understand this unevenness, it is useful to see it in a broader political context. Pragmatism had an influence not only on the social sciences and professions but also on broader reform movements. It is sometimes understood to be “the philosophy” of the American progressive movement (Kloppenberg 1986). World War I, however, was a critical watershed for Pragmatism. Afterward, it was attacked from both the right and the left (Diggins 1994).40 Many of these critiques created “myths” about Pragmatism that continue to survive today (MacGilvray 2000; Westbrook 2005).

As both public philosophy and social science, the revival of Pragmatism carries valuable intellectual resources and baggage from the past. The fragmented character of the intellectual community is probably the most limiting factor for Pragmatism. In response, this book advances a synthetic reading that proposes to make Pragmatist learning the common platform for social science and public philosophy.


(1) . On spirals of distrust, see Djelic and Sahlins-Andersson (2006, 380). Declining trust in government is a complicated issue (Bovens and Wille 2008), but the best cross-national research finds that erosion of trust results from rising expectations (Dalton 2004). For a broad discussion of trust in government agencies, see Thomas (1998).

(2) . A classic debate between Carl Friedrich and Herman Finer elaborated many of these themes (McSwite 1997).

(3) . Throughout the text, Pragmatism, the philosophy, will be capitalized to distinguish it from pragmatism, a practical or commonsensical way of behaving.

(4) . The literature is extensive. Important overviews of the Pragmatist tradition include Thayer (1981), West (1989), Diggins (1994), Menand (2001), and Westbrook (2005). For recent studies of Peirce, see Hookway (1985, 2000) and Colapietro (1989); on James, see Simon (1998); on Mead, see Baldwin (1986), Cook (1993), Wiley (1993), and Joas (1997); on Dewey, see Westbrook (1991), Campbell (1995), and Ryan (1995).

(5) . Not everything about CAPS, of course, has been a success. District Advisory Committees established to consult regularly with the Chicago police have not functioned well. Participants at beat meetings are not always representative of their communities and Latinos have seen deterioration in their neighborhood conditions. Surveys and subsequent analysis also find a decline over time in citizens’ perceptions of the link between issues discussed at beat meetings and the problem-solving strategies subsequently adopted by the police.

(6) . Arguably, we might also add postmodernism, utilitarianism, and social democracy.

(7) . This alliance has historical roots, but has not always been harmonious (Ross 1992; Smith 1994). As Smith shows, social scientists influenced by Pragmatism polarized into two rival camps, “objectivists” and “purposivists.” Lindblom and Cohen’s (1979) statement about “usable knowledge” provides a more contemporary account of social science practice consistent with a Pragmatist perspective.

(8) . In other words, the point is not that public philosophy sets out the “values” of inquiry while social science establishes the “facts.”

(9) . Evolution signifies a process of continuous adaptation to natural and social environments. Learning signifies the acquisition or revision of meanings or competencies that aid that adaptation. The amalgam of the two was inspired by Darwin, but historically rooted in the “reformed liberalism” and “transcendentalism” of Emersonian New England (West 1989; Greenstone 1993; Menand 2001).

(p.198) (10) . Peirce sought to develop an evolutionary model that balanced chance against determinism. His essay “Evolutionary Love” distinguishes his understanding of evolution as growth (agapastic evolution) from evolution by “fortuitous variation” and by “mechanical necessity.” Hausman summarizes: “Agape, which Peirce called evolutionary love, is more generally to be open to letting unexpected occurrences and ideas take their own course” (2008, 218).

(11) . See Hodgson and Knudsen (2006), however, for a detailed discussion of this point. They reject the Lamarckian label for socioeconomic evolution. Sementelli (2007) argues that Veblen’s and Commons’s models of evolution, while emphasizing habit, were not Lamarckian.

(12) . James Mark Baldwin, a psychologist and contemporary of the classical Pragmatists, argued that “organic” evolution was characterized by feedbacks from adaptation to selection. Popp (2007) describes Dewey’s theory of democracy as creating social conditions for growth; he talks about democracy as producing a kind of Baldwin effect (to select good ideas). On cumulative effects, Garrison quotes Dewey: “The connection of means-consequences is never one of bare succession in time…. There is a deposit at each stage and point entering cumulatively and constitutively into the outcome” (cited in Later Works, 1:276). Hall and Whybrow (2008) argue that Veblen derived his concept of cumulative causation from Peirce (cf. Foresti [2004] who argues that it was derived from “cues” from Kant and Darwin). They quote Veblen as describing cumulative causation as “changes cumulatively going forward in the institutional fabric of habitual elements that govern the scheme of life.”

(13) . The master code of pragmatism is a rejection of the dualisms typically associated with Cartesian modernism. As Hans Joas puts it: “Antidualism was one of the leitmotifs of pragmatism” (1993, 72). On Dewey’s and Mead’s antidualism, see Baldwin (1986, 29–35) and Joas (1997, 61). On Peirce’s anti-Cartesian approach, see Mills (1966, chap. 7). The Pragmatist instinct to balance dualisms can be seen as structuring a whole complex and interrelated field of modernist dichotomies. Anselm Strauss sums this up nicely: “In the writings of the Pragmatists we can see a constant battle against the separating, dichotomizing, or opposition of what Pragmatists argued should be joined together: knowledge and practice, environment and actor, biology and culture, means and ends, body and mind, matter and mind, object and subject, logic and inquiry, lay thought and scientific thought, necessity and chance, cognitive and non cognitive, art and science, values and action” (1993, 45).

(14) . Peirce rediscovered the idea of continuousness in Greek philosophy and he referred to it as “synechism.” Dewey later emphasized the continuous transaction between actors and their environments.

(15) . Peirce’s most important use of this triadic logic may have been the relationship he proposes between mind, nature, and society. Nature represents the external objective world; mind grasps this objective world through a system of signs. Unlike Kant, however, who saw mental conceptual structures as transcendental, Peirce argued that the meaning of mental signs was fixed by reference to society. He argued in favor of a provisional truth fixed by the “community of inquiry.”

(16) . Mead, for example, articulated a developmental model of the “social self.” He argued that a “social” self develops when the self becomes capable of reflecting upon itself from the perspective of society. Individuals are capable of “role-taking,” which is a fundamental Pragmatist mechanism of developing shared understanding through dialogue. Conceptually, he distinguishes a triadic relationship between the I, the me, and the generalized other. The I is the source of spontaneous impulse. The me is the self that develops a relationship with the I, which means that the conscious me develops an awareness of the I as an object. In temporal terms, the I is always apprehended as the immediate past. Only the me is accessible in the present. So far, the conceptual logic is dyadic, positing a relationship between the I and the me. The developmental sequence (p.199) only appears when the conceptual logic becomes triadic. Mead argues that for the me to more fully take the I as an object, it requires a degree of autonomy from spontaneous impulse. The source of this autonomy is a third term of reference—a point of perspective with which to regard the I as an object. For Mead, this third term is the generalized other, the perspective of society at large. From this larger perspective, the me is able to adopt different roles vis-à-vis the I.

(17) . With Pragmatism, we have to always be careful to not prioritize one end of a dualistic opposition. While stressing “learning by doing,” Pragmatism does not prioritize practice over theory. Learning arises from direct experience with the world, but this experience is symbolically mediated. Symbols are tools to probe and understand this world, while experience can lead to the refinement and revision of these symbolic tools. Learning depends on the interaction between abstraction inherent in symbols and the situated logic of experience with concrete problems. Theories are useful, but they have to be grounded in practice. This point is also important to make because the term “pragmatism” is often used colloquially to refer to practical action devoid of principle. Pragmatism, the philosophy, adopts fallibilism, but it by no means rejects principled action. Knowledge, principles, and values, however, are treated as provisional and subjected to continuous testing and revision.

(18) . Joas (1997) describes how a Pragmatist model of action emphasizes the creativity of action.

(19) . Pragmatism’s emphasis on continuous revision leads to a rejection of the sharp separation of means and ends. Dewey describes the separation of instrumental and final (consummatory) ends as a “great evil” (1929, 169). Not only are “ends” partly emergent from action (which economists label “endogenous preferences”), but they are shaped by our choice of “means.” See Whitford (2002) for a good discussion on this point.

(20) . Marc Tool has summarized Pragmatism’s social valuation principle as follows: “Maximize opportunities for effective social and individual non-invidious development” (1977, 832). This developmental ethic is not teleological. Pragmatism tries to identify the possibilities for growth and progress without assuming these possibilities will be realized (Marcel 1974). Nor is it utopian. Pragmatism remains hopeful for human growth, but harbors no illusion of human perfectability (Rorty 2000; Westbrook 2005).

(21) . In Education and Experience, Dewey writes: “The criterion of the value of school education is the extent to which it creates a desire for continued growth and supplies means for making the desire effective in fact” (1938, 58). Writing about Dewey on education and democracy, Popp (2007) argues: “All such reorganizations or reconstructions are subjected to the standard of growth in that the test for such reorganizations is whether they open the way for subsequent achievements of greater meaning and autonomy.” Cunningham argues that [moral] growth for Dewey is the “broadening and deepening of the agent’s capacity to take all the interests inherent within the situation into account” (1994, 353). See Festenstein (1997, chaps. 2 and 3) for a general discussion of Dewey’s view of growth. For discussions of the Pragmatist view of progress, see Marcell (1974), Sheppard (2003), Koopman (2006), and McGowan (2008).

(22) . On the idea of incommensurability in the Pragmatist tradition, see Russill (2005). For Pragmatism, reflexive inquiry produces dialogue between different perspectives. Mead, for example, argued that individual growth occurs when people engage in an internal dialogue with a “generalized other” (Wiley 1994).

(23) . As conceived by Campbell, social experimentation is a constrained version of a random controlled experiment (a quasi-experiment), as developed in psychology. For a discussion placing this understanding of “experiment” in historical context, see Dehue (2001). It is worth noting that Rortyian neo-Pragmatism is not sanguine about Dewey’s “experimentalism.” For a good discussion of Rorty’s “post-experimentalism” and what it misses about Deweyian Pragmatism, see Waks (1997). Talisse nicely summarizes the classical Pragmatist stance toward the metaphor of scientific inquiry in general: “Pragmatists (p.200) often articulate their vision of democratic practice by means of an analogy with scientific inquiry. Although this practice is sometimes misunderstood as a quasi-positivist insistence that all real questions are scientific questions, the pragmatist sees science not as a privileged tribunal, but as an especially well-refined instance of those intellectual processes we engage in when confronted with a problem of any sort” (2005, 107).

(24) . The classic statement is Dewey’s (1928) Quest for Certainty.

(25) . In Art and Experience, Dewey nicely captures the conservative aspect of meaning: “Between the poles of aimlessness and mechanical efficiency, there lie those courses of action in which through successive deeds there runs a sense of growing meaning conserved and accumulating toward an end that is felt as accomplishment of process” (1980, 39).

(26) . In fact, Dewey’s definition of inquiry is: “turning elements into unified whole” (1980, 104–105). On Dewey’s holism, see McDonald (2004, 119). For a broader discussion of holism in Pragmatism, see Misak (1999) and White (2005).

(27) . This processual structuralism is rooted in Pragmatism’s relational and processual ontology. A relational ontology is one in which social entities are to be understood in terms of their relationships rather than in terms of their inherent (essentialist) characteristics. James announces this relational perspective in his essays on radical empiricism, alongside a discussion of the continuous nature of social life. Drawing on Pragmatism, Emirbayer (1997) elaborates on relational arguments in his “Relational Manifesto for the Social Sciences.” A processual ontology emphasizes the importance of ongoing social interaction to the construction and negotiation of social order and meaning. On “processual” philosophy, see Rescher (2000).

(28) . In a very broad sense, it might be fair to say that much of organization theory and public administration is about problem solving. Nevertheless, it is difficult to find explicit treatments of problem solving. See chapter 5 for important exceptions.

(29) . In studies of private firms, this is called a “competency” view of the firm.

(30) . The Pragmatist tradition is still recognized in contemporary studies of cognition (on Jerome Bruner, see Stone 2006) and social psychology (Fiske 1992, 1993; on political psychology, see Rosenberg 2003). Among current disciplines of psychology, Pragmatism has very strong affinities with the ecological psychology of Gibson (Good 2007; Noble 2007) and with cognitive linguistics (Johnson 2006). On influences within psychiatry, see Brendel (2006).

(31) . Dewey and Mead shaped the Chicago School of Sociology through their influence on Robert Park (Matthews 1977), Florian Znaniecki (Wiley 2007), and Everett Hughes (Helmes-Hayes 1998). James had a strong influence on Charles Cooley at the University of Michigan (Herranz 2003) and on W. E. B. Du Bois (Taylor 2004). These influences, in turn, later shaped the development of symbolic interactionism (Shalin 1986), especially the work of Herbert Blumer (Tucker 1988), Anselm Strauss (Strauss 1993), Norman Denzin, David Maines (Maines 2001), and Tomatsu Shibutani (Baldwin 2006).

(32) . The Pragmatist roots of institutional economics live on in the work of Geoffrey Hodgson (Hodgson 2004, 2006, 2007) and Daniel Bromley (2006). Jens Beckert (2003) has developed Pragmatist ideas in the related field of economic sociology.

(33) . See Anderson (1994), Johnson and Knight (Knight and Johnson 1996, 2007), Bohman (1999, 2002), Caspary (2000), Festenstein (2001), Dryzek (2004), and Fung (2007).

(34) . One of the founders of policy studies, Harold Lasswell was influenced by Pragmatism in his attempt to establish the policy sciences as a “problem-oriented” discipline (Ascher and Hirschfelder-Ascher 2004; but see Kaufman-Osborne 1985 for a critique). More recent attempts to link public policy and Pragmatism include Buchholz and Rosenthal (1995). Planning draws even more substantially on Pragmatism (Hoch 1984a, 1984b; Forester 1993, 1999; Blanco 1994; Lawrence 2000; Holden 2008). In environmental planning, two legendary figures, Aldo Leopold and Benton MacKaye, (p.201) were influenced by Pragmatism (Minteer 2001). For influences on geography, see Allen (2008), Hepple (2008), and Cutchin (1999); for the Pragmatist influences on Gilbert White’s geography, see Wescoat (1992). Social work has also been influenced by Pragmatism through the work of Jane Addams (Seigfried 1999; Shields 2003, 2006, 2008; Whipps 2004).

(35) . Among contemporary legal theorists, Posner (2003) has advanced the importance of legal pragmatism, though his pragmatism is not rooted strongly in Pragmatist philosophy.

(36) . In the related fields of organization and management theory, Mary Parker Follett (Ansell 2009), Ordway Tead (O’Connor 2001), Herbert Simon (Kerr 2007), and W. A. Shewhart (the founder of quality management; Sliwa and Wilcox 2008) drew on Pragmatism in their work. More contemporary authors influenced by Pragmatism include Philip Selznick (1966, 1984), Donald Schön (Schön 1983), Donald Chisholm (2001), and Michael Cohen (Cohen 2007). Pragmatism has also influenced the more specialized fields of organizational learning (Elkjaer 2004) and knowledge management (Cavaleri 2004). In systems theory and operations research, Pragmatism influenced Fred Emery (Barton and Selsky 2000), C. West Churchland (Matthews 2006), and Russell Ackoff (Ormerod 2006).

(37) . Shields (2008) provides a recent overview of this discussion.

(38) . There has also been considerable debate about whether pragmatism provides a good philosophical foundation for public administration (Stever 2000; Zanetti and Carr 2000) and a lively debate about whether the “classical” pragmatism of Dewey or the “neo-Pragmatism” of Rorty offer the best “foundations” for public administration (Stever 2000; Miller 2004, 2005; Shields 2004, 2005, 2008; Stolcis 2004; Webb 2004; Evans 2005; Hildebrand 2005; Snider 2005; Hoch 2006).

(39) . There is also much important work in the contemporary social sciences with strong affinities with Pragmatism, even if it is not directly influenced by it. This includes Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge (Nelson 1995), Bateson’s work on social ecologies (Harries-Jones 2002), Vygotsky’s historical-cultural activity theory (Miettinen 2001), work on situated action and communities of practice (Suchman 1987; Lave and Wenger 1991; Brown and Duguid 2000), Bandura’s work on social learning (Holden 2008), Elias’s figurational sociology (Zimmerman 2006), Giddens’s structuration theory (Giddens 1984), and Bourdieu’s concepts of practice and habitus (Colapietro 2004).

(40) . The critique from the left, mounted by Randolph Bourne, Lewis Mumford, and later by C. Wright Mills, was either that Dewey (in particular) was stuck in a lost agricultural world of small communities and had no response to the rising political power of the modern corporation or that the “scientific” approach of Pragmatism was the handmaiden of capitalism (Lustig 1983) or of social engineering and technocratic planning (Jordan 1994). For a direct critique of the “social engineering” criticism, see Kaufman-Osborne (1985).