Beyond ‘crude pragmatism’ in sports coaching:Insights from C.S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey: a commentary

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Hall, Edward ; Gray, Shirley (2017)

We agree that there is a lack of clarity in the sports coaching literature about philosophical pragmatism, but this is inevitable when there is a lack of consensus in the literature of philosophical pragmatism itself. In the writing of classical pragmatists there are a “plurality of conflicting narratives” (Bernstein, 1995 p.55). For instance, Charles Sanders Peirce acknowledged notable theoretical divergence between his pragmatism and that of William James (Hookway, 2012). In fact, Peirce viewed the availability of nuanced approaches as a mark of the vitality of this school of thought. After all, pragmatists value diversity, they accept that current thinking, hypotheses and practices may require revision – they are flexibly minded. Such revision, however, must be built upon well-reasoned doubt (Hookway, 2012). In other words, a clear argument is necessary if an alternative proposition is to be considered. In this vein, though we have sympathy for the thrust of his argument, and support calls for more “legitimate philosophical thinking” and “empirical philosophical enquiry” (Cushion & Partington, 2016 p.863), our aim in this commentary is to address a lack of clarity and utility in some of Jenkins’ propositions about philosophical pragmatism and sports coaching.
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