Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jackman, Henry. "Review of Cheryl Misak, ed. THE NEW PRAGMATISTS." NDPR May 14, 2008.

Misak, Cheryl, ed. The New Pragmatists. Oxford: OUP, 2007.

After William James published his Pragmatism in 1907, C.S. Peirce changed the name of his own position from "pragmatism" to "pragmaticism" in order to disassociate himself from what he took to be the overly 'subjective' aspects of James's newly topical view. This tension between Peirce and James persists today, and Cheryl Misak usefully distinguishes the Jamesian strain of "Neo-Pragmatism", most famously associated with Richard Rorty, from what she calls the "New Pragmatism", a position that stands to Neo-Pragmatism as Peirce did to James. Misak considers it characteristic of New Pragmatists to think that "standards of objectivity come into being and evolve over time, but that being historically situated in this way does not detract from their objectivity" (p. 2), but precisely where the lines are between, say, Metaphysical Realism, New Pragmatism and Neo-Pragmatism remains hard to specify, and what a worked out New Pragmatism would look like appears to be different in each of the eight essays in this excellent collection. All of the papers are new with the volume, and in what follows I'll only be able to highlight some themes that run through groups of the essays, along with some differences between the authors involved. Such themes will include (1) the relation of the New Pragmatism to its classical predecessors, (2) just how robust an account of truth and objectivity New Pragmatism can be expected to offer, and (3) whether or not the New Pragmatism should provide an account of truth and objectivity for all of the language or just some subset of it. Unfortunately, much that would be worth discussing must be left out, but I hope to at least give a feel for some of the concerns driving this consistently engaging collection of papers. . . .

Read the rest here: http://ndpr.nd.edu/review.cfm?id=13065.

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