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The Varieties of Pragmatism, 1st edition

  • Douglas McDermid

Published by Continuum (November 1st 2008) - Copyright © 2008

1st edition

The Varieties of Pragmatism

ISBN-13: 9780826425041

Includes: Paperback

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  • Paperback

    You'll get a bound printed text.


For much of the twentieth century, many Anglo-American philosophers supported three theses - one about reality, one about truth, and one about human knowledge - that, taken together, underwrote debates in epistemology. The first was realism: the commonsensical-sounding view that the world of physical objects exists independently of human thought or language. The second was the correspondence theory of truth, according to which true statements or beliefs are those which accurately represent the way the world is. The third was foundationalism: the view that our knowledge of the world, like an edifice, must rest on firm foundations (i.e. on beliefs whose justification does not depend on any other beliefs).
In the last two decades, however, a radical anti-epistemology movement led by the influential American philosopher Richard Rorty has put partisans of all three theses on the defensive. Moreover, Rorty has repeatedly claimed that his opposition to the shibboleths of traditional epistemology draws inspiration from the grand tradition of Pragmatism (especially from William James and John Dewey.¿¿
In this important new book, Douglas McDermid argues persuasively for two key claims: first, that the so-called "Neo-Pragmatist" critique of traditional epistemology is thoroughly unconvincing; second, that Rorty is guilty of taking the name of Pragmatism in vain, since there are crucial and far-reaching differences between Neo-Pragmatism and the Classical Pragmatism of James and Dewey. The Varieties of Pragmatism will take its place in the forefront of the literature on this most vital part of the American philosophical legacy.

Table of contents

1. Pragmatism: Deconstruction or Reconstruction?
2. Pragmatism and the Correspondence Theory of Truth
3. The Comparison Objection: Pragmatism and Foundationalism
4. The Constructivist Objection: Pragmatism and Realism
5. Correspondence: Denied or Merely Demystified?
6. Towards An Anatomy of Pragmatism
7. Rorty, Neo-Pragmatism, and The End of Epistemology
8. Why Can't Epistemology Be 'Foundational'?
9. Does Epistemology Rest on a Mistake? Rorty on Scepticism
10. Epilogue: Putting Pragmatism In Perspective
Appendix: Rorty, Truth and Non-Cognitivism

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