Towards Pragmatic Conservatism

12 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016 Last revised: 15 Oct 2016

See all articles by Allen Mendenhall

Allen Mendenhall

Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law

Date Written: 2016


Where do pragmatism and conservatism intersect? What does pragmatism offer conservatives? Seth Vannatta answers these questions in Conservativism and Pragmatism in Law, Politics, and Ethics. He argues that, as a methodology, pragmatism concerns itself with the situated, the embedded, the contextual, the experiential, the fallible, the social, and the customary. Chief among its concerns is lived experience. It recalls philosophical modes associated with Michael Oakeshott, Edmund Burke, F. A. Hayek, and Russell Kirk. This essay explains and evaluates Vannatta’s arguments about pragmatism and conservatism with an eye toward reanimating a pragmatic conservative tradition.

Keywords: Pragmatism, Conservatism, Michael Oakeshott, F. A. Hayek, Russell Kirk, Edmund Burke, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Suggested Citation

Mendenhall, Allen, Towards Pragmatic Conservatism (2016). University of Dayton Law Review, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2016. Available at SSRN:

Allen Mendenhall (Contact Author)

Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law ( email )

The Blackstone Center for Law & Liberty
Faulkner Law, 5345 Atlanta Highway
Montgomery, AL United States of America 36109
United States
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