Pragmatism as Problem Solving

Monica Prasad*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


At the level of sociological practice a three-sided debate occurs in American sociology between the rationalist tradition, in which the goal is the better understanding of society; the emancipatory tradition, in which the goal is improvement of society; and the skeptical tradition, which argues that we cannot know if either our knowledge or our norms are correct, and therefore it is not possible to expect progress in either. Each of these strands runs into difficulties: for the rationalist tradition, an inability to cumulate knowledge; for the emancipatory tradition, a difficulty in grounding the norms that would determine what counts as emancipation if norms are socially constructed; and for the skeptical tradition, inability to accept the logical conclusion of the argument, which is inaction even in the face of extreme injustice. The author shows that when pressed on these points, each tradition moves in the direction of pragmatism understood as problem solving, and that the practice of problem solving offers resolutions to these dilemmas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2021


  • pragmatism
  • problem solving

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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