Pragmatism  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Pragmatism (disambiguation)

Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition that began in the United States around 1870. Pragmatism is a rejection of the idea that the function of thought is to describe, represent, or mirror reality. Instead, pragmatists develop their philosophy around the idea that the function of thought is as an instrument or tool for prediction, action, and problem solving. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics—such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science—are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes rather than in terms of representative accuracy.

A few of the various but interrelated positions often characteristic of philosophers working from a pragmatist approach include:

  • Epistemology (justification): a coherentist theory of justification that rejects the claim that all knowledge and justified belief rest ultimately on a foundation of noninferential knowledge or justified belief. Coherentists hold that justification is solely a function of some relationship between beliefs, none of which are privileged beliefs in the way maintained by foundationalist theories of justification.
  • Epistemology (truth): a deflationary or pragmatist theory of truth; the former is the epistemological claim that assertions that predicate truth of a statement do not attribute a property called truth to such a statement while the latter is the epistemological claim that assertions that predicate truth of a statement attribute the property of useful-to-believe to such a statement.
  • Metaphysics: a pluralist view that there is more than one sound way to conceptualize the world and its content.
  • Additionally, forms of empiricism, fallibilism, verificationism, and a Quineian naturalist metaphilosophy are all commonly elements of pragmatist philosophies. Many pragmatists are epistemological relativists and see this to be an important facet of their pragmatism (e.g. Richard Rorty), but this is controversial and other pragmatists argue such relativism to be seriously misguided (e.g. Hilary Putnam, Susan Haack).

Charles Sanders Peirce (and his pragmatic maxim) deserves much of the credit for pragmatism, along with later twentieth century contributors, William James and John Dewey. Pragmatism enjoyed renewed attention after W. V. O. Quine and Wilfrid Sellars used a revised pragmatism to criticize logical positivism in the 1960s. Inspired by the work of Quine and Sellars, a brand of pragmatism known sometimes as neopragmatism gained influence through Richard Rorty, the most influential of the late twentieth century pragmatists along with Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom. Contemporary pragmatism may be broadly divided into a strict analytic tradition and a "neo-classical" pragmatism (such as Susan Haack) that adheres to the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey.

The word pragmatism derives from Greek πρᾶγμα (pragma), "a thing, a fact", which comes from πράσσω (prassō), "to pass over, to practise, to achieve". The word "Pragmatism" as a piece of technical terminology in philosophy refers to a specific set of associated philosophical views originating in the late twentieth-century. However, the phrase is often confused with "pragmatism" in the context of politics (which refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on practical considerations, rather than ideological notions) and with a non- technical use of "pragmatism" in ordinary contexts referring to dealing with matters in one's life realistically and in a way that is based on practical rather than abstract considerations.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Pragmatism" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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