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Consonances Between Liberalism and Pragmatism

Carol Hay
Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society
Vol. 48, No. 2 (Spring 2012), pp. 141-168
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.48.2.141
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Page Count: 28
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Consonances Between Liberalism and Pragmatism
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Abstract This paper is an attempt to identify certain consonances between contemporary liberalism and classical pragmatism. I first analyze four of the most trenchant criticisms of classical liberalism presented by pragmatist figures such as James, Peirce, Dewey, Addams, and Hocking: that liberalism overemphasizes negative liberty, that it is overly individualistic, that its pluralism is suspect, that it is overly abstract. I then argue that these deficits of liberalism in its historical incarnations are being addressed by contemporary liberals. Contemporary liberals, I show, have taken on board a surprising number of classical pragmatist insights and have responded to a surprising number of classical pragmatist criticisms. I thus argue that both contemporary pragmatism and contemporary liberalism have much to gain by joining forces.

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