Pragmatist Democracy: Evolutionary Learning as Public Philosophy

Overview


Barack Obama is often lauded as a 'pragmatist,' yet when most people employ the term, they mean it in the vaguest sense: that he's practical and willing to compromise to get things done. However, the public philosophy of pragmatism, which has been the subject of a rich revival in the past couple of decades, is far more than this. First developed in the late nineteenth century, pragmatism is primarily a way of thinking--an anti-dualist philosophy that attempts to overcome the dichotomies between self and object, ...
See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (6) from $28.88   
  • New (4) from $28.88   
  • Used (2) from $33.56   
Sending request ...

Overview


Barack Obama is often lauded as a 'pragmatist,' yet when most people employ the term, they mean it in the vaguest sense: that he's practical and willing to compromise to get things done. However, the public philosophy of pragmatism, which has been the subject of a rich revival in the past couple of decades, is far more than this. First developed in the late nineteenth century, pragmatism is primarily a way of thinking--an anti-dualist philosophy that attempts to overcome the dichotomies between self and object, nature and culture, mind and body, theory and practice, and fact and value. When applied to governance, pragmatists advocate the use of tactics like third party mediation and problem-solving to achieve anti-dualist principles: cosmopolitan localism, analytical holism, progressive conservatism, and processual structuralism.

In Pragmatist Governance, Chris Ansell begins with a theory of the concept and then explains why the approach is ideal for addressing today's governance problems. For instance, while many think that bureaucracy's unchecked growth is the fundamental problem facing democracy today, pragmatism suggests the opposite: that public agencies can effectively manage the relationship between governance and democracy if they focus on building consent for public problem-solving. Ansell argues that wishing away bureaucracy will not do given what we know about the indispensible role of institutions in contemporary governance. Utilizing pragmatist concepts, Ansell rethinks the design of institutions, arguing that they are neither the simple products of rational design that can be endlessly tinkered with nor 'congealed taste'--where institutions represent the timeless customs and values of a people. Along with overcoming this dualism, Ansell also challenges us to rethink our approach to governance. Instead of moving from one extreme to the other--from bureaucracy to 'post-bureaucracy' or 'public entrepreneurialism'--pragmatism would not merely seek to replace one (hierarchical bureaucracy) with the other (a 'flat,' entrepreneurial organization), but rather to hitch the two approaches together in an innovative amalgam where organizational leaders constantly interact with and learn from street-level bureaucrats.

Pragmatist Governance concludes that if government is to regain public trust, the technical knowledge of experts must be brought together with sensitivity to local problems, situations, and knowledge. The answer lies not, however, in a diminished bureaucracy. That may only deepen distrust. Rather, the emphasis should be on taking the best of both sides to find innovative and effective ways to solve enduring public problems.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Pragmatist Democracy's particular innovation lies in bringing its titular philosophical approach to bear on organizational theory. Ansell has done an impressive job, and this work should be indispensable for anyone interested in the concrete political implications of pragmatism... Each chapter of [the book] is richly detailed, and its wealth of information, distinctions and claims compel repeated reading... Pragmatist Democracy is an impressive achievement, simultaneously showing pragmatists a vision of their values in action and presenting social scientists with a reconstructed conceptual toolkit for understanding political institutions." --Philosophy in Review

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199772445
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/7/2011
  • Pages: 296
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher K. Ansell is Professor of Political Science at the University of California-Berkeley.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

1. Democratic Governance in a Pragmatist Key
2. Institutions
3. Large-Scale Institutional Change
4. Organizations
5. Problem-Solving
6. Recursiveness
7. Power and Responsibility
8. Consent
9. Collaborative Governance
10. Problem-Solving Democracy

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)