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The nectar is in the journey: pragmatism, progress, and the promise of incrementalism1

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The nectar is in the journey, |3dotnld| ultimate goals may be illusory, nay, most likely are but a gossamer wing. Day by day, however, human life triumphs in its ineluctable capacity to hang in and make things better. Not perfect, simply better."

John McDermott, Streams of Experience

I investigate one manner in which classical American pragmatism might be utilized by theorists and practitioners interested in addressing urban environmental problems. Despite the widespread adoption of the sustainability moniker within the environmental movement, evidence suggests that progress toward implementing urban environmental sustain ability proposals has been minimal. To address this inaction, I undertake an analysis of the philosophy of progress guiding efforts to transition urban environments toward sustainability. I argue that one of the reasons so little has been accomplished in terms of implementing existing urban environmental sustainability proposals is that a disproportionate emphasis has been placed on values that stem from economic-centered indicators of progress. I argue that the value of progress ought to be less about how much of a certain type of economic growth sustainability proposals ultimately can generate for urban environments and more about ensuring that continual incremental societal progress takes place.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Kansas City, MO, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2003

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