Drake University Law School
Pragmatism has triumphed in the law by becoming all things to all people—or has it? This essay, prepared for a symposium at Drake University Law School's Constitutional Law Center, examines the future of pragmatism in constitutional thought. First, I revisit the work of William James to recover the ideal disposition of a pragmatist decision maker. Second, I analyze pragmatism's impact on constitutional theory from Richard Posner to Cass Sunstein, from Philip Bobbitt to Willy Forbath and Joey Fishkin. I show that pragmatism lives on in constitutional theories that don't self-consciously characterize themselves in such terms. I also contend that pragmatism takes different forms in their theories: disciplinary substitution, decisional allocation, managed consequentialism, and materialist purposivism. Together, these represent the legacies of pragmatism. Third, after considering the views of Robin West and Roberto Unger, I offer some thoughts about what it will take to construct a form of pragmatism that restores the tradition's emphasis on humanistic governance.
Robert L. Tsai,
Legacies of Pragmatism
Drake Law Review
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/3165