The Pragmatism of Benjamin Franklin


This paper discusses aspects of the thought of the American patriot and thinker, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790). At the present time, Franklin is too often regarded primarily as a scientific amateur whose tinkerings produced nothing of lasting importance, or as a self-centered prig of interest only to others like himself. In reality, Franklin was a thoughtful and concerned individual attempting to advance the common weal, both through his personal struggle toward moral perfection and through the institutionalization of the scientific spirit of fallibilism, publicity, and the unquestioned appeal to experience as the sole means of deciding policies. I hope to suggest the ongoing value of Franklin's work in the course of my paper

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