Journal of the Philosophy of History 13 (3):325-342 (2019)

Bonnie Sheehey
University of Oregon
Philosophers generally recognize pragmatism as a philosophy of progress. For many commentators, pragmatism is linked to a notion of historical progress through its embrace of meliorism – a forward-looking philosophy that places hope in the future possibility of improvement. This paper calls pragmatism’s progressivism into question by outlining an alternative account of meliorism in the work of William James. Drawing on his ethical writings from the 1870s and 1880s, I argue that James’s concept of hope does not imply an embrace of historical progress, but remains detached from such a notion precisely insofar as it relies on a non-progressive temporality that encourages a rethinking of historical change. This form of hope is significant, I suggest, for the work of conceptualizing a non-progressive pragmatist approach to history and historiography.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1163/18722636-12341431
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,217
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Progress and Meliorism: Making Progress in Thinking About Progress.Andrew Fiala - forthcoming - Journal of the Philosophy of History:1-23.
William James's Conception of Truth.Bertrand Russell - 1992 - In William James & Doris Olin (eds.), William James: Pragmatism, in Focus. Routledge.
Old Pragmatisms, New Histories.Douglas Anderson - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (4):pp. 489-521.
Was James Ward a Cambridge Pragmatist?Jeremy Dunham - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):557-581.
Richard Rorty’s ‘Post-Kantian’ Philosophy of History.Loren Goldman - 2015 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 9 (3):410-443.
The Physiology and Psychology of Temperament: Pragmatism in Context.Francesca Bordogna - 2001 - Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 37:3-25.


Added to PP index

Total views
3 ( #1,242,562 of 2,324,957 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #455,085 of 2,324,957 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes