Philosophy Faculty Publications


Jane Addams

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Publication Source

A Companion to Pragmatism


Addams conceived of democracy, social justice, and peace as mutually defining and inextricably linked. This understanding lies at the heart of her philosophy, confirmed through her experiences. Addams wrote in Democracy and Social Ethics: "We are under a moral obligation in choosing our experiences, since the result of those experiences must ultimately determine our understanding of life" (1902/2002, p. 8). Addams chose her experiences by collaborating with others through institutional structures that they created together, most notably Hull-House, WILPF, and scores of other organizations.

Addams developed a conception of democracy as associated living. Far more than political process, democracy for Addams is a way of living in solidarity with others, attuned to physical and emotional needs, aimed at full human flourishing. Addams knew William James (see James), and she worked closely with John Dewey (see Dewey) and George Herbert Mead (see Mead) in Chicago. Dewey acknowledged how much he learned from Addams and from the work at Hull-House. Addams's work and thought are particularly important to the study of classical American pragmatism because she focuses on extensively on the experiences of women, immigrants, and the poor.

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John Wiley & Sons

Place of Publication

Malden, MA