James and Dewey on three aspects of relativism

Abstract
This first chapter locates crucial elements of James's notion of truth within James's 'The Will to Believe." James recognizes evidential criteria in the formation of belief, in contrast to a common claim that for him beliefs are generated in an evidential vacuum. Jamess view of evidence in "The Will to Believe" also stands as a pragmatic reappraisal of traditional epistemology, and such criteria are individualistic. But his treatment should not be taken as subjectivist, in the sense that personal whim or desire always override evidential criteria in the formation of belief. Rather, James's view allows him to avoid both subjectivism and traditional evidentialism. The second chapter suggests that "The Will to Believe" also contains a notion of pluralism, which is intimately related to radical empiricism. James develops two levels of pluralism, individualistic and social. Whereas the first chapter concerns inquiry on an individual level, the second locates the individual within society. James's position on pluralism is also discussed briefly in relation to contemporary ethical theory. Perhaps James's most important notion is that of an "intellectual republic." Such a republic would emerge from a productive mediation between the two levels of pluralism outlined in the essay. In closing, it is suggested that the relationship between James and Josiah Royce illustrates James's ideal of such mediation. The third chapter develops notions of social inquiry hinted at by James within the more radically social philosophy of John Dewey. Following a brief discussion of Platonic assumptions regnant in contemporary discussions, Dewey's views are offered as an alternative to some unpalatable consequences of Platonism. A brief discussion of Dewey's metaphysics and epistemology follows; Dewey manages to avoid both Platonism and relativism, while maintaining the stable and precarious elements traditionally associated with either approach. In conclusion, it is suggested that Dewey's use of the stable and precarious constitute a basis for his notion of criticism, where inquiry is viewed not as a bid for ultimate clarity, but rather as a pattern of interrelationships between elements imbedded within context. Since escape from context is impossible, clarity is also contextual
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,456
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
John Dewey (1910). William James. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods 7 (19):505-508.
Guy Axtell (forthcoming). Possibility and Permission? Intellectual Character, Inquiry, and the Ethics of Belief. In Pihlstrom S. & Rydenfelt H. (eds.), William James on Religion. (Palgrave McMillan “Philosophers in Depth” Series.
Max Carl Otto (ed.) (1942). William James. Madison, the University of Wisconsin Press.
Sandra B. Rosenthal (2006). Experience, Experimentalism, and Religious Overbelief. The Proceedings of the Twenty-First World Congress of Philosophy 8:129-134.
James Good (2008). Dewey's “Permanent Hegelian Deposit”: A Reply to Hickman and Alexander. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 44 (4):pp. 577-602.
James Flaherty (2005). Rorty, Religious Beliefs, and Pragmatism. International Philosophical Quarterly 45 (2):175-185.
R. Shusterman (2011). The Pragmatist Aesthetics of William James. British Journal of Aesthetics 51 (4):347-361.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2012-06-08

Total downloads

5 ( #230,794 of 1,102,446 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #298,159 of 1,102,446 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.