Pragmatism emerged in the United States in the early 1900s and quickly became one of the most influential and controversial philosophical current of the twentieth century. Its deep challenges to previous philosophical traditions, including views on what constitutes knowledge, the value of truth, the role of politics in philosophy, and the role of philosophy in politics and education, strongly inform current philosophical thinking and societal values. Pragmatists argue that philosophy must reassert itself as an active, constructive, and ethical force in all realms of human life.
The essays published on this website critically explore these views and their implication for contemporary understandings of the world. They do so by developing a philosophical analysis of issues of contemporary relevance, ranging from the social role of religious beliefs in Europe to the ongoing shifts in how schools and science funding are organised in the UK. They are grouped under four main areas of interest: science, politics & law, education, and provocations.
All the essays published here are the original work of undergraduate students at the University of Exeter. As such, they represent the views of the scholars of tomorrow, the newest generation of minds engaging with pragmatist thinking (authors are 21 years old on average). They were produced as part of the module PHL3010 Pragmatism and its Enemies. The course is taught by Dr. Sabina Leonelli, who also acts as editor for the essays and steward to their development. The syllabus for this course, as well as further links and resources, can be found under the resources tab above.
Each essay can be cited in the same form as it is found, and downloaded by clicking its title.
We owe the inspiration for this initiative, and for the underlying insistence that undergraduate students are able to create knowledge at a professional level when given the opportunity to do so, to Professor Hasok Chang and his efforts to foster research-led teaching; and, of course, to John Dewey himself.