David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory. Blackwell. 400--419 (1999)
Pragmatism is a philosophical movement developed near the turn of the century in the work of several prominent American philosophers, most notably, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey. Although many contemporary analytic philosophers never studied American Philosophy in graduate school, analytic philosophy has been significantly shaped by philosophers strongly influenced by that tradition, most especially W.V. Quine, Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty. Like other philosophical movements, it developed in response to the then-dominant philosophical wisdom. What unified pragmatism was its rejection of certain epistemological assumptions about the nature of truth, objectivity, and rationality. The rejection of these assumptions springs from the pragmatist's belief that practice is primary in philosophy. Meaningful inquiry originates in practice. Theorizing is valuable, for sure, but its value arises from practice, is informed by practice, and, its proper aim is to clarify, coordinate, and inform practice. Theorizing divorced from practice is useless.
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