How to Think about Social Problems: American Pragmatism and the Idea of Planning

Synopsis

This thoughtful study has a two-fold purpose. The first is to examine the close relationship between the philosophy of American pragmatism and the idea of planning, and the second is to explore how to approach or think about recalcitrant social problems. Contemporary society's primary response to the issue of social problems is to turn to professional expertise. No sooner is a problem identified than a profession emerges to claim it. But intractable social problems, such as poverty or racism, show the limits of professional social inquiry. Is it the method of inquiry that is at fault, or does the failure lie in a simplistic and narrow view of reason? In exploring these questions, the author turns to the pragmatic philosophy of Charles Pierce and John Dewey to develop a coherent approach to such problems. She concludes that the lasting and meaningful changes needed to address the major problems we face today call for the cultivation of a culture of democratic planning that values inclusive communities, social and environmental justice, and public, practical knowledge.

Additional information

Contributors:
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Westport, CT
Publication year:
  • 1994