Pragmatism is America’s most distinctive philosophy. Generally it has been understood as a development of European thought in response to the "American wilderness." A closer examination, however, reveals that the roots and central commitments of pragmatism are indigenous to North America. Native Pragmatism recovers this history and thus provides the means to re-conceive the scope and potential of American philosophy. Pragmatism has been at best only partially understood by those who focus on its European antecedents. This book casts new light (...) on pragmatism’s complex origins and demands a rethinking of African American and feminist thought in the context of the American philosophical tradition. Scott L. Pratt demonstrates that pragmatism and its development involved the work of many thinkers previously overlooked in the history of philosophy. (shrink)
i am humbled by the opportunity to address you today as the President of the Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy. From my first experience at the annual meeting in Boston in 1995 to this meeting more than two decades later, SAAP has been my philosophical home. Here I have come to know many of the philosophers who have most influenced me: John Lachs, Peter Hare, John Ryder, Charlene Haddock Seigfried, Jim Campbell, Marilyn Fischer, Erin McKenna, and John McDermott, (...) whose work, in particular, helped me find my philosophical voice by inspiring both the research that led to my first book and my approach to teaching American philosophy. It was McDermott, the second president of this society, who delivered... (shrink)
“Natural logic” was proposed by Lewis Henry Morgan as the engine of cultural evolution, concluding that the “course and manner” of cultural development “was predetermined, as well as restricted within narrow limits of divergence, by the natural logic of the human mind.” This essay argues that Morgan’s conception of natural logic aids the project of settler colonialism. Rather than being a false account of human agency, however, it is a conception of natural logic that is produced through the systematic narrowing (...) of possibilities for agency, human, and otherwise. This narrowed logic is thus only a part of a differently conceived logic of agency that is also general and normative. The discussion proceeds in four sections: first, a presentation of Morgan’s conception of natural logic and its origins; second, an analysis of four colonizing implications of Morgan’s view; third, examples of further developments of natural logic in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the work structuralist and post-structuralist theorists; and, last, a brief introduction of a decolonial logic that provides a broader alternative conception of the structure of agency, human, and otherwise, and that avoids the oppressive effects of the reductionism of the natural logic received from Morgan and his successors. (shrink)
Josiah Royce (1855?1916) was, in addition to being the pre-eminent metaphysician at the turn of the 19th century in the USA, regarded as ?a logician of the first rank?. At the time of his death in 1916, he had begun a substantial and potentially revolutionary project in logic in which he sought to show the connection between logic and ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics. His system was developed in light of the work of Bertrand Russell and A. B. Kempe and aimed (...) to include Russell's logic as a subsystem. This more comprehensive logic, which Royce called system Σ, brought together an analysis of the character of experience and knowledge with the principles which served to organize interests and direct actions. The result was to be a logical theory framed by ?a profoundly ethical motive as well as a genuinely intellectual one? that would serve as ?a theory of the way in which activities must go on if they go on at all?. This paper examines three stages in the development of Royce's logical system, its relation to the logic of Principia Mathematica, and prospects for its further development. (shrink)
In his 1905 work on the logical foundations of geometry, Royce proposed a logic based on the “obverse” or O-relation that could provide a means of understanding any system of order. Royce explains that this relation, which he calls the O-relation, “in logical terms,... is the relation in which (if we were talking of the possible chances [choices] open to one who had to decide upon a course of action) any set of exhaustive but, in their entirety, inconsistent choices would (...) stand to one another” (Royce, 1951, 385). This focus on the process of making choices turns on the idea that the action of making a choice produces an asymmetrical relation and so a key part of Royce’s project was to demonstrate the.. (shrink)
Classical pragmatism, despite its recognized concern for questions of freedom and democracy, has little to say directly about questions of power. Some commentators have found Dewey’s notion of habit to be a resource for taking up issues of power while others have argued that pragmatism does not provide a sufficiently critical tool to challenge systematic oppression. Still others have proposed to shore up pragmatism by using resources found in post-structuralism, particularly in the work of Foucault. This paper begins with this (...) suggestion, but argues that while Foucault offers a useful starting point his conception of power fails—at least in an American context characterized by the experience of pluralism. I then argue that the pragmatist tradition, through the work of Mary P. Follett (1868-1933) has the theoretical resources to generate a conception of power that begins with the experience of pluralism. (shrink)
In 1914, Francis E. Leupp, former commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, presented an answer to the so-called Indian Problem that some have called pluralist. This paper examines the development of Leupp’s pluralism as part of the policies and practices of the genocide of American Indians as it was carried out in the years following the US Civil War. Rather than being a singular event in the history of US-Indian relations, I argue that Leupp’s pluralism is part of the (...) settler colonial system that persists and finds present expression in contemporary liberal pluralism. I consider two examples of recent pluralist theory, those of Charles Taylor and William Galston. I conclude by arguing that what both forms of pluralism—Leupp’s and recent liberal varieties—have in common is a conception of agency that rejects the American Indian conception and conserves structural genocide as a central part of present-day society. (shrink)
Henry Sheffer’s 1908 Harvard Ph.D. thesis contains an interesting appendix on a central feature of the logical work of his thesis advisor, Josiah Royce. This is the claim in Royce’s 1905 article “The Relations of the Principles of Logic to the Foundations of Geometry” that an unsymmetric ordering relation can be defined on the single symmetric O-relation for which he gives postulates in that paper. Sheffer criticizes Royce’s specific definition from the point of view of the evolving twentieth century conception (...) of axiomatic method and also shows more generally that an unsymmetric1 order relation cannot be defined in the system of the 1905 paper based on the O-relation. In this article I wish to consider the nature.. (shrink)
In this essay, Scott Pratt develops the tension at work in Democracy and Education between conceptions of multiculturalism that emerge from Dewey's commitment to progress as a process of civilization and from his contrasting commitment to a vision of progress as a localized process that requires respect for boundaries and limits. The first is related to what Patrick Wolfe has called “settler colonialism.” The second conception of multiculturalism, framed by the aims of education and the conception of growth, avoids the (...) problems of the first and provides a foundation for a practical, decolonial multiculturalism in the context of twenty-first-century education. (shrink)
marilyn fischer's book Jane Addams's Evolutionary Theorizing sets a new standard for reading the central works of American philosophy. By situating Addams's Democracy and Social Ethics in the context of late nineteenth-century evolutionary theory, the text takes on meanings different from some that have become canonical. Context, in this case, is not simply historical context, but also the intellectual context in which Addams's work was written and read. Fischer argues that the meanings of terms such as "evolution," "democracy," "sympathy," and (...) "social ethics" cannot be taken at today's face value, but rather must be understood in light of the ideas and theories with which they were associated in Addams's day—what... (shrink)
_An enlightening introduction to the study of logic: its history, philosophical foundations, and formal structures_ _Logic: Inquiry, Argument, and Order_ is the first book of its kind to frame the study of introductory logic in terms of problems connected to wider issues of knowledge and judgment that arise in the context of racial, cultural, and religious diversity. With its accessible style and integration of philosophical inquiry and real-life concerns, this book offers a novel approach to the theory of logic and (...) its relevance to questions of meaning and value that arise in the world around us. The book poses four problems for logic: Is logic separate from experience? Does logic require dualisms? Can logic reconcile opposed ways of understanding the world? And when things are divided, does the boundary have a logic? The author begins the exploration of these questions with a discussion of the process of analyzing and constructing arguments. Using the logical theories of C. S. Peirce, John Dewey, and Josiah Royce to frame the investigation, subsequent chapters outline the process of inquiry, the concept of communicative action, the nature of validity, categorical reasoning through the theory of the syllogism, and inductive reasoning and probability. The book concludes with a presentation of modal logic, propositional logic, and quantification. Logic is presented as emerging from the activities of inquiry and communication, allowing readers to understand even the most difficult aspects of formal logic as straightforward developments of the process of anticipating and taking action. Numerous practice problems use arguments related to issues of diversity and social theory, and the book introduces methods of proving validity that include Venn diagrams, natural deduction, and the method of tableaux. _Logic: Inquiry, Argument, and Order_ is an ideal book for courses on philosophical methods and critical reasoning at the upper-undergraduate and graduate levels. It is also an insightful reference for anyone who would like to explore a cross-cultural approach to the topic of logic. (shrink)
in her address, R. Aída Hernández Castillo considers "two experiences of intercultural dialogue" as a means of decolonizing her own feminist views and methodological commitments. These cases and others led her to "confront both the idealizing discourses on Indigenous culture of an important sector of Mexican anthropology and the ethnocentrism of liberal feminism". The first case is a dialogue with the Continental Network of Indigenous Women of the Americas, whose participants seek to recover Indigenous spirituality as an act of resistance (...) and as a resource for social change. The second is her experience with the women's Center... (shrink)
Kathleen Wallace makes an important contribution to the theoretical frameworks available to understanding the nature of selves. Drawing on the theory of natural complexes proposed by Justus Buchler, Wallace proposes the “cumulative network model” (CNM) of selves. This article provides an overview of CNM, suggests its relation to recent New Materialist theories of agency, ideas of power, and the American philosophical tradition, and proposes that it can serve as a new resource in discussions of pressing problems faced in today’s world.
: One of the most influential branches of nineteenth-century American feminism was a resistance movement committed to the idea that the key to social reform was the recognition and maintenance of human differences. This approach, which became central to American pragmatism, had its roots in a tradition of American women writers including Lydia Maria Child. This paper examines Child's work and focuses on her conception of pluralism and its role in sustaining diverse communities.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Opera as ExperienceScott L. Pratt (bio)There is a long history of debate over what opera is. Since its more or less formal beginning in the sixteenth century as a reconstruction of ancient drama, opera as an art form has been controversial. The received understanding—emphasized by the genre's founders and in periodic efforts at reforming the standards of composition and production—is that opera is musical drama. In his book Opera (...) as Drama, Joseph Kerman reasserted this view as an antidote to what he called "flabby relativism" and in order to be able to determine a set of values that could serve as a basis for opera criticism.1 He argues that while opera is "excellently its own art form," it is one where the story serves as the central framework in terms of which the particularities of the words and music are structured.2 Given a story, the librettist and the composer work to express the narrative dramatically, using words and music to convey not only the events of the story but the emotions bound up in the story. For Kerman, in a successful opera the words express the narrative and the music enriches it by providing the emotional aspect. One can then evaluate an opera in light of the drama expressed in the relation of the narrative to the words and music. Disconnection between the words and music undermine the value of the opera, even if the words adequately express the narrative and the music adequately expresses some emotion.Philosopher Bernard Williams, in his collection On Opera, affirms Kerman's general conception of opera and adds to it two important factors. First, while the words and music are essential to the drama presented, operas are also distinct in that they are staged and not concert pieces. In this case, the details of the staging also contribute to the success of a particular opera (though the variation in staging usually falls out of discussions by [End Page 74] Kerman and Williams of particular operas). Second, Williams makes clear what is implicit in Kerman: "It is a fallacy to argue," Williams says, "that since, in a musical drama, music obviously provides the music, so the words must provide the drama."3 The drama is a product of both the words and the music in relation to the narrative whose meaning provides the frame on which these hang. Opera criticism, from this perspective, focuses on the specific ways in which the text of a given opera expresses or fails to express the drama of the story. Here, the words, since they present the story, are taken as primary. Williams quoted Calzabigi, a librettist and reformer associated with Gluck: "The music has no other function than to express what arises from the words, which are therefore neither smothered by notes nor used to lengthen the spectacle unduly, because it is ridiculous to prolong the sentence 'I love you' (for instance) with a hundred notes when nature has restricted it to three."4In contrast to Kerman's view of opera as drama, philosopher Peter Kivy, in his book Osmin's Rage, proposes a view of opera as music. Despite Kivy's claim that this notion serves as a more or less equivalent alternative to Kerman's, in fact it radically reorganizes how one thinks about opera and how one evaluates particular operas. Kivy's alternative is in part the result of a reading of the history of opera as an art form that began, in effect, as the answer to a philosophical problem: the relation of emotions to dramatic texts. The founders of opera, the Florentine Camerata, asked how, given a particular story—Antigone, Oedipus, or Orpheus, for example—does telling the story express the emotions that are central to the meaning of the story? How does telling the story go from "just the facts" to the felt meaning of tragedy? The answer for the Florentine Camerata was found in their understanding of ancient Greek tragedies, where they concluded that the problem was solved by singing the words. By singing, they argued, the Greeks were able to make the emotional content of the words accessible to the audience.5... (shrink)
In the wake of a war against the United States and the displacement of his people from their lands at the confluence of the Rock and Mississippi Rivers, the Sauk leader, Black Hawk, prepared an autobiography published in 1833. At the center of his work was an attempt to offer his readers a strategy that would make it possible for the Sauk and other Native peoples to coexist with the Americans of European descent who had come to the Mississippi valley. (...) The autobiography, from this perspective, represents more than another statement of a Native American ''worldview.'' Instead, it offers an assessment and a response to a crisis of survival. At issue for Black Hawk are neither property rights nor the troubles of communication between cultures, but rather ways of seeing and understanding the place that sustained the life of his people. Here, the land is not merely something valued, but rather the ground that organizes the meaning of things and events. It is the breakdown of this logic of place, both within the Native community and outside it, that precipitated the disastrous war and it is the recovery of this logic through the narrative of Black Hawk's autobiography that he raises the possibility of cultural survival. This paper reexamines Black Hawk's project and provides resources for reading it both as philosophy and as an instance of a conception of place that can contribute to ongoing efforts to promote the coexistence of cultural differences in the land of Black Hawk's people. (shrink)
One of the most influential branches of nineteenth-century American feminism was a resistance movement committed to the idea that the key to social reform was the recognition and maintenance of human differences. This approach, which became central to American pragmatism, had its roots in a tradition of American women writers including Lydia Maria Child. This paper examines Child's work and focuses on her conception of pluralism and its role in sustaining diverse communities.
This chapter contains sections titled: Eighteenth‐Century Beginnings: Cadwallader Colden and Benjamin Franklin Transcendentalism: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lydia Maria Child The Rise of Pragmatism: Peirce, James, and Dewey Interaction in Practice: Jane Addams and W. E. B. Du Bois The Challenge of Logical Positivism: Quine and Contemporary Voices.
In an environment characterized by the emergence of new and diverse (and often opposed) philosophical efforts, there is a need for a conception of philosophy that will promote the exchange and critical consideration of divergent insights. Depending upon the operative conception, philosophical efforts can be viewed as significant, insightful and instructive, or unimportant, misguided and not real philosophy. This paper develops John Dewey's conception of philosophy as a mode of inquiry in contrast with Bertrand Russell's conception of philosophy as a (...) mode of analysis. I argue that while Russell's analytic conception of philosophy justifies the dismissal of non-analytic philosophies, Dewey's conception of philosophy provides a theoretical framework for the comparison, evaluation and interaction of alternatives. (shrink)