The Case for Pragmatic Psychology

The Case for Pragmatic Psychology

The Case for Pragmatic Psychology

The Case for Pragmatic Psychology


"At long last, a tightly reasoned, thoroughly grounded treatise showing that complex social programs can be understood far more profoundly and usefully than past mindsets have allowed."
--Lisbeth B. Schorr, author of Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America

"Fishman creates a new paradigm for advancing clinical science. Every mental health professional aspiring to be accountable and a scientist practitioner in their work should be aware of the ideas in this readable and entertaining book."
--David H. Barlow, editor of Clinical Handbook of Psychological Disorders

"Daniel Fishman cuts through rhetoric with clear writing and a razor-sharp wit. The chapter on education is like the welcome beam of a lighthouse in a fog."
--Maurice J. Elias, coauthor of Social Problem Solving: Interventions in the Schools

"Fishman makes the case for a pragmatic psychology in unusually lucid and forceful prose. This book should be read not only by professional psychologists but by anyone interested in the future of mind-related science."
--John Horgan, author of The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age

"Fishman's liberating insights will free his readers to set aside the intellectual quandaries that plague philosophers and psychologists at the end of the 20th century, and turn back with confidence to the practice of their work."
--Stephen Toulmin, author of Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity

"As we try to steer a course through the public policy debates of the 21st century, Fishman's pragmatic psychology for enhancing human services provides a far-reaching new resource for meeting this challenge."
--Pat Schroeder, President and CEO, Association of American Publishers. Former Congresswoman from Colorado.

About the Book

A cursory survey of the field of psychology reveals raging debate among psychologists about the methods, goals, and significance of the discipline, psychology's own version of the science wars. The turn-of-the-century unification of the discipline has given way to a proliferation of competing approaches, a postmodern carnival of theories and methods that calls into question the positivist psychological tradition.

Bridging the gap between the traditional and the novel, Daniel B. Fishman proposes an invigorated, hybrid model for the practice of psychology- a radical, pragmatic reinvention of psychology based on databases of rigorous, solution-focused case studies. In The Case for Pragmatic Psychology, Fishman demonstrates how pragmatism returns psychology to a focus on contextualized knowledge about particular individuals, groups, organizations, and communities in specific situations, sensitive to the complexities and ambiguities of the real world. Fishman fleshes out his theory by applying pragmatic psychology to two contemporary psychosocial dilemmas the controversies surrounding the "psychotherapy crisis" generated by the growth of managed care, and the heated culture wars over educational reform.

Moving with ease from the theoretical to the nuts and bolts of actual psychological intervention programs, Fishman proffers a strong argument for a new kind of psychology with far-reaching implications for enhancing human services and restructuring public policy.



Daniel B. Fishman’s book, The Case for Pragmatic Psychology, is revolutionary, both in substance and in portent. I mean that literally. Instead of assuming, as prevailing ideology would have us do, that practically useful, socially beneficial psychology must begin with a science that is passed on through a closely sifted technology to more or less routine application by practitioners, Fishman proposes that we turn psychology upside down. As practitioners, we begin with our clients, be they people in distress, dysfunctional families, failing corporations, or violent, culturally deteriorating communities. We take them as they come, in all their natural complexity; bring our best knowledge, experience, skill, and creative ingenuity to bear in understanding and improving the condition of each client; and in organized cooperation with other practitioners accumulate a database of successful and unsuccessful cases. On this base, we inform future generations of professionals and progressively extend the mass of useful knowledge that any true profession must embody and that the people who purchase our services deserve and demand.

If faithfully enacted, the program Fishman proposes will revolutionize the psychological professions. the intuitions and lore on which many professional actions are currently based will gradually be replaced by systematic records of comparable cases, though there will always be room for creative innovation in the ever-expanding range and everchanging flow of problems that professional psychologists encounter. Results of pertinent research can be readily incorporated in the knowledge base that practitioners bring to each new case. Useful theoretical developments, whenever they appear, can be integrated with prior conceptions in guiding each inquiry. the emerging result will be, of all things, a science-based profession, in the pragmatic sense intended by William James, John Dewey, and contemporary pragmatists like Richard Rorty, Richard Bernstein, and Stephen Toulmin, whose think-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.