Pragmatism as a Communication-Theoretical Tradition: An Assessment of Craig‘s Pro-posal


Of recent attempts to appropriate pragmatism for communication studies, Rob-ert Craig‘s inclusion of a pragmatist ―tradition‖ in his influential ―metamodel‖ of commu-nication theoriesconstitutes one of the most prominent proposals to date. In this model, pragmatism is principally understood by contrast to other alternatives, such as phenome-nology, semiotics, and rhetoric. As a communication-theoretical tradition in Craig‘s sense, the pragmatist approach is expected to provide distinctive articulations of the na-ture of communication and communication problems, expressed in a particular vocabu-lary. Useful as such a partitioning may be for analytical and dialogical purposes, the de-limitation of pragmatism that emerges from Craig‘s efforts is in many respects problemat-ic. After a summary of the background assumptions and disciplinary aims of Craig‘s pro-ject, this article identifies three serious weaknesses in his account: its neglect of relevant intra-tradition distinctions and debates, its straightforward association of pragmatism with a strongly constitutive approach to communication, and its tendency to disconnect prag-matism from other communication-theoretical positions in ways that are not conducive to his objectives. This discussion highlights the contrast between Craig‘s constructionist in-strumentalism and the habit-realism of the classical pragmatisms of Peirce and Dewey

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Mats Bergman
University of Helsinki

References found in this work

The Problem of Triple Contingency in Habermas.Piet Strydom - 2001 - Sociological Theory 19 (2):165-186.
Peirce and Schiller and Their Correspondence.Frederick J. Down Scott - 1973 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 11 (3):363-386.

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