The philosophy and culture of occupational therapy
The overall purpose of this research was to investigate whether there is consistency between the core assumptions, principles, and values of occupational therapy (OT) and the philosophy of pragmatism. It has been suggested that a clear framework of the core assumptions, principles, and values that undergird the professional theory and practice may help dispel the identity crisis that the profession of OT has been suggested to be undergoing (Shannon, 1997, West, 1984, Breines, 1986, & Friedland, 1998). The philosophy of pragmatism has been proposed to offer such a framework (Breines, 1986 & 1989). If this were true, it would hold that the assumptions, principles, and values of OT would be consistent with those of the philosophy of pragmatism as determined by consistency of themes that underlie the assumptions, principles, and values of both. If there is consistency between those themes, it may be concluded that pragmatism may be the philosophy that undergirds the profession as asserted by Breines (1986) and Serrett (1985).
To determine the consistency hypothesized above, OT literature and the literature of four pragmatic philosophers was analyzed. The themes that underlie the core assumptions, principles, and values of the profession and the philosophy of pragmatism as articulated by the four philosophers were identified. A content analysis of Slagle lectures delivered between 1955 and 1995 was also completed. Similar themes were explicated. The three sets of themes were then compared.
The findings of the above analysis suggest that the themes that underlie the core assumptions, principles, and values of OT as revealed through analysis of OT literature and the Slagle lectures are consistent with those revealed in the analysis of the literature of four pragmatic philosophers. This suggests that the assumptions, principles, and values of OT are consistent with those of pragmatism and that pragmatism may be an identifiable philosophy undergirding the theory and practice of OT. Its assumptions, principles, and values may provide a framework within which theory and practice of OT may be better understood.