This critical editorial introduction summarizes and explicates Frederick Will’s pragmaticrealism and his account of the nature, assessment, and revision of cognitive and practical norms in connection with: the development of Will’s pragmaticrealism, Hume’s problem of induction, the oscillations between foundationalism and coherentism, the nature of philosophical reflection, Kant’s ‘Refutation of Idealism’, the open texture of empirical concepts, the correspondence conception of truth, Putnam’s ‘internal realism’, the redundancy theory of truth, sociology of knowledge, the (...) governance of practice by norms and the assessment and revision of norms in practice, scientific realism, the alleged independence of reason and tradition, rule-following, legal realism, ethical intuitionism and moral relativism, the regress problem (both in epistemology and in moral theory), the paradox of analysis, and culminating in Will’s account of the philosophical governance of norms. These issues are discussed in close consideration of the views of: William Alston, John Dewey, Descartes, Leibniz, Waismann, Austin, Russell, Schlick, Ayer, Richard Rorty, Michael Williams, Hempel, Carnap, Simon Blackburn, Ramsey, Strawson, Kuhn, Wilfrid Sellars, Wittgenstein, Nozick, Dretske, Quine, Barbara Herman, Hardy Jones, Marcus Singer, and Gerd Buchdahl. (shrink)
I discuss the design of the method of entropic inference as a general framework for reasoning under conditions of uncertainty. The main contribution of this discussion is to emphasize the pragmatic elements in the derivation. More specifically: (1) Probability theory is designed as the uniquely natural tool for representing states of incomplete information. (2) An epistemic notion of information is defined in terms of its relation to the Bayesian beliefs of ideally rational agents. (3) The method of updating from (...) a prior to a posterior probability distribution is designed through an eliminative induction process that singles out the logarithmic relative entropy as the unique tool for inference. The resulting framework includes as special cases both MaxEnt and Bayes’ rule. It therefore unifies entropic and Bayesian methods into a single general inference scheme. I find that similar pragmatic elements are an integral part of Putnam’s internal realism, of Floridi’s informational structural realism, and also of van Fraasen’s empiricist structuralism. I conclude with the conjecture that their valuable insights can be incorporated into a single coherent doctrine—an informational pragmaticrealism. (shrink)
By deepening Austin’s reflections on the ‘open texture’ of empirical concepts, Frederick L. Will defends an ‘externalist’ account of mental content: as human beings we could not think, were we not in fact cognizant of a natural world structured by events and objects with identifiable and repeatable similarities and differences. I explicate and defend Will’s insight by developing a parallel critique of Kant’s and Carnap’s rejections of realism, both of whom cannot account properly for the content of experience. This (...) critique shows that Will has identified a genuinely transcendental basis for defending common-sense realism, without appeal to any high-level theory of knowledge. I then show how Will’s realism undercuts Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism, Michael Williams’ partial defense of skepticism, John Haldane’s attempt to rehabilitate Aquinas’ account of concepts, and how it augments Crispin Wright’s defense of realism. (shrink)
Astroparticle physics is a recent sub-discipline of physics that emerged from early cosmic ray studies, astrophysics, and particle physics. Its theoretical foundations range from quantum field theory to general relativity, but the underlying “standard models” of cosmology and particle physics are far from being unified. The paper explores the pragmatic strategies employed in astroparticle physics in order to unify a disunified research field, the concept of observation involved in these strategies, and their relations to scientific realism.
The particularly significant theory of the symbol of Alfred Schutz is based on a combination of the two perspectives of phenomenological individualism and pragmaticrealism. This theory on the one hand explains processes of symbolic meaning constitution from a phenomenological viewpoint, specifically following Edmund Husserl. On the other hand it demonstrates the functioning of symbols through pragmatic social action, which is relevant for symbolic reality construction. The paper elaborates both perspectives within the Schutzian theory of the symbol (...) with reference to diverse interpretations of Franz Kafka’s novel The Castle. It outlines the decisive capacity of symbols to overcome and harmonize diverse and often contradictory meanings that are expressed and at the same time united by the symbol itself. (shrink)
This paper examines the notion of emergence from the perspective of pragmatism, drawing special attention to Donald Davidson’s recent account of the emergence of thought and to Hilary Putnam’s pragmaticrealism, which, we argue, can be applied to the question of the reality of emergent properties. Our overall conclusion is that the debate over the concept of emergence actively going on in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of science should be focused more strongly on the (...) class='Hi'>realism issue, even though most emergentists tend to assume a rather straightforward metaphysical realism – a view that ought to be called into question on pragmatist grounds. (shrink)
This article deals with the philosophical problem of how to conceive reality. The difficulty consists in finding a middle way between the claim that reality is unconceptualised reality and the claim that there is no difference between what is real and what we experience as real. In this regard, the pragmatic tradition in philosophy promises to provide us with some fruitful ideas for steering a path between the two. The author applies some of these ideas in developing a (...) class='Hi'>pragmatic realist philosophy of religion which is not reductionist and therefore acceptable for religious as well as non-religious philosophers of religion. First, he gives a very short summary of pragmatism as background to his proposal. Second, in contrast to the notion of realism in the pragmatic tradition he sketches the presuppositions of what is labelled religious or theological realism in present analytic philosophy of religion. Third, he distinguishes between ontological commitments that are metaphysical in character and ontological commitments that are not, drawing on Rudolf Carnap’s idea of the difference between internal and external questions of existence. Fourth, he presents Hilary Putnam’s criticism of a metaphysically realist conception of existence and fifth, Putnam’s defence of what he calls internal realism. Sixth, he puts forward a pragmatic idea of the difference between observational experiences and existential ones in our lives. Finally, he applies this pragmatic philosophy of religion to the question of whether it is reasonable to claim that belief in God presupposes God’s existence. (shrink)
In his book The Mangle of Practice and in other writings, Andrew Pickering purports to resolve the question of scientific realism by recasting the debate in terms of his own view “pragmatic” or “performative” realism. This view is informed by a constructivist view of scientific practice. Therefore it is characterised by Pickering as a species of anti‐realism that claims to take due account of the both the objective and pragmatic aspects of certain versions of scientific (...)realism. This paper analyses Pickering's claims to have resolved the debate and examines the merits and limitations of his proposed replacement.I show that insofar as Pickering conceives scientific practice as eschewing any position concerning the correspondence of theoretical concepts with nature , his position can be compared in several respects to Fine's much discussed alternative to realism, NOA . I contend that Pickering's proposed “performative realism” is no more successful at resolving the scientific realism question in than is NOA. (shrink)
In his book The Mangle of Practice and in other writings, Andrew Pickering purports to resolve the question of scientific realism by recasting the debate in terms of his own view “pragmatic” or “performative” realism. This view is informed by a constructivist view of scientific practice. Therefore it is characterised by Pickering as a species of anti‐realism that claims to take due account of the both the objective and pragmatic aspects of certain versions of scientific (...)realism. This paper analyses Pickering's claims to have resolved the debate and examines the merits and limitations of his proposed replacement.I show that insofar as Pickering conceives scientific practice as eschewing any position concerning the correspondence of theoretical concepts with nature, his position can be compared in several respects to Fine's much discussed alternative to realism, NOA. I contend that Pickering's proposed “performative realism” is no more successful at resolving the scientific realism question in than is NOA. (shrink)
Peirce trod a fine line between the extremes of nominalism and realism, tough-minded pragmatism and metaphysical speculation. As Peter Skagestad makes clear, Peirce's system of thought was fragmented, incomplete, and sometimes inconsistent.
Pragmatic Scientific Realism (PSR) urges us to take up the realist aim or the goal of truth although we have good reason to think that the goal can neither be attained nor approximated. While Newton-Smith thinks that pursuing what we know we cannot achieve is clearly irrational, Rescher disagrees and contends that pursuing an unreachable goal can be rational on pragmatic grounds—if in pursuing the unreachable goal one can get indirect benefits. I have blocked this attempt at (...) providing a pragmatic justification for the realist aim of PSR on precisely the same pragmatic grounds—since there is a competing alternative to PSR, and the alternative can provide whatever indirect benefits PSR can offer while being less risky than it is, prudential reasoning favours the alternative to PSR. This undermines the pragmatic case for the realist aim of science since the instrumentalist alternative does not aim at the truth. (shrink)
This paper will concentrate mainly on the analysis of some features present in Putnam's internal realism and in his "natural realism" that he shares with the pragmatist thinkers Peirce and James. Following the middle way which Putnam tries to reach between "reactionary metaphysics" and "irresponsible relativism," the first part of the paper deals with what is the positive insight of traditional realism, i. e., the reality of external things as independent from our mind, as it is emphasized (...) by Putnam. It also analyzes how this idea of the mind-independent character of reality has been very well worked out in Peirce's thought through the category of Secondness. The second part focuses on the right insight of relativism that Putnam wants to maintain: How our notion of reality changes and evolves together with our language, our life and our handling the world. The attention that H. Putnam pays to W. James is, also, especially important in relation to his way of understanding reality. (shrink)
An examination of philosophical realism from the standpoint of pragmatic epistemology, this book addresses the core idea of Rescher's work in epistemology: that functional and pragmatic concerns exert a controlling influence on the conduct ...
In recent times, realism in economic methodology hasincreasingly gained importance. Uskali Mäki and Tony Lawson are thebest-known realists within the discipline and even though theirapproaches are fundamentally different, both provide pragmatic defences of realism by claiming anti-realism to be the reasonfor the low quality of economic models. My paper will showthat a pragmatic defence of realism is untenable and furthermore, I willshow that for both Mäki’s and Lawson’s normative ideas there is noneed for (...) class='Hi'>realism. (shrink)
In his The Ethical Project, Philip Kitcher offers a pragmatic naturalistic account of moral progress, rejecting a moral realist one. I suggest a moral realist account of moral progress that embraces Kitcher’s pragmatic naturalism and calls on moral realism to show how the pragmatic account is successful. To do so I invoke a hypothesis about moral affordances and make use of a cognitive account of emotions.
Kant’s and Hegel’s transcendental argument for mental-content externalism breaks the deadlock between ‘internal’ and genuine realists. This argument shows that human beings can only be self-conscious in a world that provides a humanly recognizable regularity and variety among the things (or events) we sense. This feature of the world cannot result from human thought or language. Hence semantic arguments against realism can only be developed if realism about the world is true. Some of Putnam’s arguments for internal (...) class='Hi'>realism are taken as cases in point, and criticized accordingly. Pragmatic realists can use this transcendental argument, because its strong modal claims are consistent with falliblist accounts of justification. (shrink)
This paper seeks to show that the turn toward local scientific practices in the philosophy of science is not a turn away from transcendental investigations. On the contrary, a pragmatist approach can very well be (re)connected with Kantian transcendental examination of the necessary conditions for the possibility of scientific representation and cognition, insofar as the a priori conditions that transcendental philosophy of science examines are understood as historically relative and thus potentially changing. The issue of scientific realism will be (...) considered from this perspective, with special emphasis on Thomas Kuhn's conception of paradigms as frameworks making truth-valued scientific statements possible and on Charles S. Peirce's realism about "real generals". (shrink)
It has become apparent that the debate between scientific realists and constructive empiricists has come to a stalemate. Neither view can reasonably claim to be the most rational philosophy of science, exclusively capable of making sense of all scientific activities. On one prominent analysis of the situation, whether we accept a realist or an anti-realist account of science actually seems to depend on which values we antecedently accept, rather than our commitment to “rationality” per se. Accordingly, several philosophers have attempted (...) to argue in favour of scientific realism or constructive empiricism by showing that one set of values is exclusively best, for anyone and everyone, and that the downstream choice of the philosophy of science which best serves those values is therefore best, for anyone and everyone. These efforts, however, seem to have failed. In response, I suggest that philosophers of science should suspend the effort to determine which philosophy of science is best for everyone, and instead begin investigating which philosophy of science is best for specific people, with specific values, in specific contexts. I illustrate how this might be done by briefly sketching a single case study from the history of science, which seems to show that different philosophies of science are better at motivating different forms of scientific practice. (shrink)
This book examines the issue of moral realism from a pragmatist point of view, drawing attention to our human practices of ethical evaluation and deliberation. It defends the essentially ungrounded and humanly fundamental place of ethics in our thought and action. Ethics must remain beyond justification and ubiquitous in our human form of life.
Reason and Reality expounds a pragmatic metaphysics that offers a new approach to this subject's traditional objective of providing us with a secure cognitive grip on the nature of reality. The characteristic nature of this metaphysical approach lies in its commitment to the idea that the requisite security is best and most reliably provided by functional considerations of pragmatic efficacy service the aims and purposes of rational inquiry and effective communication.
In this paper, the elaboration of the concept of practical realist philosophy of science which began in the author's previous papers is continued. It is argued that practical realism is opposed to standard scientific realism, on the one hand, and antirealism, on the other. Standard scientific realism is challengeable due to its abstract character, as being isolated from practice. It is based on a metaphysical-ontological presupposition which raises the problem of the God's Eye point of view (as (...) it was called by Hilary Putnam). Joseph Rouse's conception of science as practice, Sami Pihlström's pragmaticrealism, and even Ilkka Niiniluoto's critical scientific realism are interpreted as practical realist conceptions. Pihlström suggests that the contemporary scientific realist should be prepared to accept the pragmatically naturalized Kantian transcendental perspective on realism. It is argued, however, that this realistically naturalized Kantianism can be nothing more than practical realism, as originated by Karl Marx. (shrink)