Having just taught a seminar on pragmatism and reading a recent book review by Alex Klein, I realized that there’s a reading of William James’ “Will to Believe” which isn’t universally recognized even though it seems obvious to me.
Today was the last class meeting of my pragmatism seminar. I had the students each make a presentation on their seminar papers in-progress. Some students were further along in their thinking others, but it gave everyone a chance to try out arguments and to exchange ideas.
The course syllabus covered more than 20 authors, but student interest was fairly focused.
- 2 students are writing on issues of truth and objectivity.
- 3 students are writing on Jane Addams and ethical method.
- 2 students are writing on issues of ethical method and objectivity, one with an eye toward Nelson Goodman and the other by way of C.I. Lewis.
All the projects sound interesting, but I wouldn’t have expected this distribution.
Because this was me, the readings were weighted more toward philosophy of science and epistemology than toward ethics and value theory. But nobody is writing about philosophy of science. 😒
Jane Addams was a late addition to the syllabus, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out until the class meeting on her work. She was a hit. 😃
Now it’s just grading and administrative work between me and the end of the semester. 😰
My review of Scientific Collaboration and Collaborative Knowledge: New Essays has appeared over at Notre Dame Philosophy Reviews. The very short version is that it’s an excellent collection. Gold stars for all involved.
P. D. Magnus’s forall x has been around for over a decade, and because it’s open, people can use it as a starting point for derivative versions with different features.
- the divining rod fallacy: On the basis of an instrument or scale for measurement being problematic, inferring that the property which it measures is not real. “[J]ust because a rod doesn’t find water doesn’t mean there’s no such thing as water.”
- the palm reading fallacy: Expecting psychological or sociological phenomena which occur at the group level to yield predictions about particular group members. “[U]nlike palm readers, research psychologists aren’t usually in the business of telling you, as an individual, what your life holds in store.”
You should feel free to diagnose these fallacies in the arguments of your interlocutors. I’ve added them to my list.
I’ve been blogging recently about whether “pragmatism” is a sufficiently precise term to be one which we ought to use, apart from its being historically entrenched. In the course of reading Dewey again, I’m thinking about another aspect of the pragmatist tradition.
James says that pragmatism is, in one sense, a method. It’s typically expressed by the pragmatic maxim that discovering the meaning of a concept is best done by tracing out its practical consequences.
This method alone can still lead to abstruse metaphysics. Continue reading “Obliterative and therapeutic pragmatisms”
Last Summer, Cristyn and I went down to Poughkeepsie to talk with Barry Lam about cover songs. The episode of his podcast featuring us dropped today.
Barry has other guests who address historical and musicological issues. I’m chuffed, though, that the distinctions form my paper with Cristyn and Christy provided the philosophical thread of the episode.
The whole episode is genuinely interesting and engaging, and I think I’d say so even if I didn’t figure in it. I was actually surprised that I didn’t wince at hearing my own recorded voice, testament perhaps to Barry’s skills as a recording engineer.
In the previous post, I suggested that there might be no unified “pragmatism”. By this I meant that we wouldn’t (as a matter of philosophical method) want to invent the term if it weren’t (as a matter of the history of philosophy) already entrenched and an actors’ category. I’m not sure if I want to take that back, but I do want to talk about something in the neighborhood of “pragmatism” that probably deserves a name.
In the Pragmatism lectures, William James insists that pragmatism makes meaning and truth a matter of what will happen in the future. Continue reading “Boyd’s pragmatist theory of reference, maybe”
In teaching pragmatism this semester, I’m rereading Peirce and James. It occurs to me that James explicitly rejects a central feature of Peirce’s pragmatism in a way that James himself does not recognize.
As I student, I wrote lots of papers. It was clear when I was done with a paper, because I turned it in and got a grade. As a professor, I write with an eye towards publishing. When I’m happy enough with a paper, I submit it somewhere. When it’s rejected, then what?1
Rejection is a strange and ambiguous thing. Sometimes rejection is because the journal had too many submissions or because the referee was just cranky. There’s no extra stamp to indicate that the paper just isn’t publishable.2 I revise it or don’t, and then I submit it somewhere else. Some papers, even ones that find a good home in the end, are rejected multiple times.