What Pragmatism Was

What Pragmatism Was

Burke, F. Thomas
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/14/2013
Format: Paperback 7 figures
ISBN: 978-0-253-00958-6
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F. Thomas Burke believes that pragmatism, especially as it has been employed in politics and social action, needs a reassessment. He examines the philosophies of William James and Charles S. Peirce to determine how certain maxims of pragmatism originated. Burke contrasts pragmatism as a certain set of beliefs or actions with pragmatism as simply a methodology. He unravels the complex history of this philosophical tradition and discusses contemporary conceptions of pragmatism found in current US political discourse and explains what this quintessentially American philosophy means today.

Author Bio

F. Thomas Burke is Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina. He is author of Dewey's New Logic: A Reply to Russell (1994) and co-editor of Dewey's Logical Theory: New Studies and Interpretations (2002) and George Herbert Mead in the Twenty-First Century (2013).


Sorts out the rather muddled variety of ways the idea of pragmatism is used in academe and in public life and looks back at what pragmatism was to help establish some parameters for understanding what it has become and how it can be more effective.An insightful reading of the similarities and differences between pragmatism as it was developed by William James and pragmatism as C. S. Peirce developed it. Identifying these two strands of pragmatism provides Burke with an analytical tool for placing pragmatism in relation to the work of Carnap, Quine, and more recent neo-pragmatists and for offering a clarification of what it means to be a pragmatist in the present world.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Pragmatic Maxim
1. Peirce’s Early Presentation of the Maxim
2. James’s Presentation of the Maxim
3. Peirce’s Later Versions of the Maxim
4. A Composite Sketch of the Maxim
5. Empiricism versus Pragmatism
6. Measurement and the Observer Effect
7. Perception and Action
8. Addams and the Settlement Movement
9. Truth, Justice, and the American Pragmatist Way
10. Twelve Misconceptions of Pragmatism
Conclusion: Belief and Meaning

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