Philosophical essays in pragmatic naturalism

With Elizabeth R. Eames, he is also the author of Lectures in the Far East, the results of an extended speaking tour in Elizabeth R. Eames , wife of S. Morris Eames, was a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University Carbondale from until her retirement in when she obtained the title of emeritus professor. Richard W.

Field is an assistant professor in the history, humanities, and philosophy department at Northwest Missouri State University. He received his Ph. Morris Eames in and has been associated for several years with the work of the Center for Dewey Studies at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. The former Rorty among them want to do away with the problem because they believe it's a pseudo-problem, whereas the latter believe that it is a meaningful empirical question. Pragmatism sees no fundamental difference between practical and theoretical reason, nor any ontological difference between facts and values.

Philosophical essays in pragmatic naturalism

Both facts and values have cognitive content: knowledge is what we should believe; values are hypotheses about what is good in action. Pragmatist ethics is broadly humanist because it sees no ultimate test of morality beyond what matters for us as humans. Good values are those for which we have good reasons, viz.

The pragmatist formulation pre-dates those of other philosophers who have stressed important similarities between values and facts such as Jerome Schneewind and John Searle.


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  5. Experience and Value: Essays on John Dewey and Pragmatic Naturalism?

William James' contribution to ethics, as laid out in his essay The Will to Believe has often been misunderstood as a plea for relativism or irrationality. On its own terms it argues that ethics always involves a certain degree of trust or faith and that we cannot always wait for adequate proof when making moral decisions.

Moral questions immediately present themselves as questions whose solution cannot wait for sensible proof.

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A moral question is a question not of what sensibly exists, but of what is good, or would be good if it did exist. A social organism of any sort whatever, large or small, is what it is because each member proceeds to his own duty with a trust that the other members will simultaneously do theirs. Wherever a desired result is achieved by the co-operation of many independent persons, its existence as a fact is a pure consequence of the precursive faith in one another of those immediately concerned. A government, an army, a commercial system, a ship, a college, an athletic team, all exist on this condition, without which not only is nothing achieved, but nothing is even attempted.

Nietzsche on Idealism, Natural Law, and Science - Philosophy Core Concepts

The Will to Believe James Of the classical pragmatists, John Dewey wrote most extensively about morality and democracy. Edel In his classic article Three Independent Factors in Morals Dewey , he tried to integrate three basic philosophical perspectives on morality: the right, the virtuous and the good. He held that while all three provide meaningful ways to think about moral questions, the possibility of conflict among the three elements cannot always be easily solved.

Anderson, SEP. Dewey also criticized the dichotomy between means and ends which he saw as responsible for the degradation of our everyday working lives and education, both conceived as merely a means to an end. He stressed the need for meaningful labor and a conception of education that viewed it not as a preparation for life but as life itself. Dewey [] ch.

An Essay in Pragmatic Naturalism

Dewey was opposed to other ethical philosophies of his time, notably the emotivism of Alfred Ayer. Dewey envisioned the possibility of ethics as an experimental discipline, and thought values could best be characterized not as feelings or imperatives, but as hypotheses about what actions will lead to satisfactory results or what he termed consummatory experience. A further implication of this view is that ethics is a fallible undertaking, since human beings are frequently unable to know what would satisfy them.

During the late s and first decade of , pragmatism was embraced by many in the field of bioethics led by the philosophers John Lachs and his student Glenn McGee , whose book "'The Perfect Baby: A Pragmatic Approach to Genetic Engineering'" see designer baby garnered praise from within classical American philosophy and criticism from bioethics for its development of a theory of pragmatic bioethics and its rejection of the principalism theory then in vogue in medical ethics.

An anthology published by The MIT Press, "'Pragmatic Bioethics'" included the responses of philosophers to that debate, including Micah Hester, Griffin Trotter and others many of whom developed their own theories based on the work of Dewey, Peirce, Royce and others. Lachs himself developed several applications of pragmatism to bioethics independent of but extending from the work of Dewey and James. Lekan argues that morality is a fallible but rational practice and that it has traditionally been misconceived as based on theory or principles.

Instead, he argues, theory and rules arise as tools to make practice more intelligent. John Dewey's Art as Experience , based on the William James lectures he delivered at Harvard , was an attempt to show the integrity of art, culture and everyday experience IEP. Art, for Dewey, is or should be a part of everyone's creative lives and not just the privilege of a select group of artists.

He also emphasizes that the audience is more than a passive recipient. Dewey's treatment of art was a move away from the transcendental approach to aesthetics in the wake of Immanuel Kant who emphasized the unique character of art and the disinterested nature of aesthetic appreciation. A notable contemporary pragmatist aesthetician is Joseph Margolis. He defines a work of art as "a physically embodied, culturally emergent entity", a human "utterance" that isn't an ontological quirk but in line with other human activity and culture in general. He emphasizes that works of art are complex and difficult to fathom, and that no determinate interpretation can be given.

Both Dewey and James investigated the role that religion can still play in contemporary society, the former in A Common Faith and the latter in The Varieties of Religious Experience. From a general point of view, for William James, something is true only insofar as it works. Thus, the statement, for example, that prayer is heard may work on a psychological level but a may not help to bring about the things you pray for b may be better explained by referring to its soothing effect than by claiming prayers are heard.

Pragmatism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

As such, pragmatism is not antithetical to religion but it is not an apologetic for faith either. James' metaphysical position however, leaves open the possibility that the ontological claims of religions may be true. As he observed in the end of the Varieties, his position does not amount to a denial of the existence of transcendent realities.

Quite the contrary, he argued for the legitimate epistemic right to believe in such realities, since such beliefs do make a difference in an individual's life and refer to claims that cannot be verified or falsified either on intellectual or common sensorial grounds. Joseph Margolis , in Historied Thought, Constructed World California, , makes a distinction between "existence" and "reality".

He suggests using the term "exists" only for those things which adequately exhibit Peirce's Secondness : things which offer brute physical resistance to our movements.

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In this way, such things which affect us, like numbers, may be said to be "real", although they do not "exist". Margolis suggests that God, in such a linguistic usage, might very well be "real", causing believers to act in such and such a way, but might not "exist". Neopragmatism is a broad contemporary category used for various thinkers that incorporate important insights of, and yet significantly diverge from, the classical pragmatists.

This divergence may occur either in their philosophical methodology many of them are loyal to the analytic tradition or in conceptual formation: for example, conceptual pragmatist C. Lewis was very critical of Dewey; neopragmatist Richard Rorty disliked Peirce. Important analytic pragmatists include early Richard Rorty who was the first to develop neopragmatist philosophy in his Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature , [24] Hilary Putnam , W. Quine , and Donald Davidson.

Experience and value : essays on John Dewey and pragmatic naturalism

Brazilian social thinker Roberto Unger advocates for a radical pragmatism , one that "de-naturalizes" society and culture, and thus insists that we can "transform the character of our relation to social and cultural worlds we inhabit rather than just to change, little by little, the content of the arrangements and beliefs that comprise them". Neopragmatist thinkers who are more loyal to classical pragmatism include Sidney Hook and Susan Haack known for the theory of foundherentism.

Many pragmatist ideas especially those of Peirce find a natural expression in the decision-theoretic reconstruction of epistemology pursued in the work of Isaac Levi.

Nicholas Rescher advocates his version of methodological pragmatism , based on construing pragmatic efficacy not as a replacement for truths but as a means to its evidentiation. Not all pragmatists are easily characterized. With the advent of postanalytic philosophy and the diversification of Anglo-American philosophy, many philosophers were influenced by pragmatist thought without necessarily publicly committing themselves to that philosophical school.

Daniel Dennett , a student of Quine's, falls into this category, as does Stephen Toulmin , who arrived at his philosophical position via Wittgenstein , whom he calls "a pragmatist of a sophisticated kind" foreword for Dewey in the edition, p. Another example is Mark Johnson whose embodied philosophy Lakoff and Johnson shares its psychologism, direct realism and anti-cartesianism with pragmatism.

Conceptual pragmatism is a theory of knowledge originating with the work of the philosopher and logician Clarence Irving Lewis. The epistemology of conceptual pragmatism was first formulated in the book Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge. It is often seen as opposed to structural problems connected to the French critical theory of Pierre Bourdieu.

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