Kidnapping an ugly child: is William James a pragmaticist?

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (1):154-175 (2018)
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Since the term ‘pragmatism’ was first coined, there have been debates about who is or is not a ‘real’ pragmatist, and what that might mean. The division most often drawn in contemporary pragmatist scholarship is between William James and Charles Peirce. Peirce is said to present a version of pragmatism which is scientific, logical and objective about truth, whereas James presents a version which is nominalistic, subjectivistic and leads to relativism. The first person to set out this division was in fact Peirce himself, when he distinguished his own ‘pragmaticism’ from the broad pragmatism of James and others. Peirce sets out six criteria which defines ‘pragmaticism’: the pragmatic maxim; a number of ‘preliminary propositions’; prope-positivism; metaphysical inquiry; critical common-sensism; and scholastic realism. This paper sets out to argue that in fact James meets each of these criteria, and should be seen as a ‘pragmaticist’ by Peirce’s own lights.



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Author's Profile

Neil W. Williams
University of Roehampton

References found in this work

A Pluralistic Universe.William James - 1977 - Harvard University Press.
.Marc Forster - unknown
Was James Psychologistic?Alexander Klein - 2016 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 4 (5).
The Two Pragmatisms: From Peirce to Rorty.Howard Mounce - 1997 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 34 (1):304-312.
Why Pragmatists Cannot Be Pluralists.Robert Talisse - 2005 - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society 41 (1):101 - 118.

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