Progress in Philosophy

American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (1):35 - 46 (1986)
Abstract
The work is an attempt to answer the transcendental question, "How is progress in philosophy possible?" The character of philosophical beliefs and doubts is examined, and it is argued that in the exigent context of philosophical practice in the agonistic analytic tradition, a certain limited doxastic voluntarism is possible. The role of both ordinary and ideal language intuitions is criticized; it is concluded that these cannot serve as uncontroversial pretheoretical givens of inquiry. As an extended example of the covert adoption of strategies of prescriptive idealization, several theories of meaning are reviewed. A model of philosophical inquiry based upon the notion of transcendental arguments is profferred. This is derived from both Kantian and Peircean antecedents, via the synthesizing efforts of Karl-Otto Apel. Finally, three senses of "progress" are distinguished and several alternative models of philosophical inquiry are assessed in the light of these distinctions. It is concluded that the sort of progress appropriate to philosophy, seen collectively, is non-terminating and non-decidable, relying upon negative consensus generating mechanisms, thus assuring perpetual pluralism.
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