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Pragmatism, Analytic Philosophy and the Philosophy of Mind

Describe the historical development, key contributors, and principle issues [for each] of pragmatism, analytic philosophy, and the Philosophy of Mind.

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1. Describe the historical development, key contributors, and principle issues [for each] of pragmatism, analytic philosophy, and the Philosophy of Mind.

a. Pragmatism

Historical Development and Key Players It is considered a philosophical movement, and pragmatism originated in the United States in the late 1800s, with the thought and works of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead figuring most prominently in its overall direction. These originators, however, typically point back to the influence of several earlier thinkers, with especial mention of Immanuel Kant and Alexander Bain, the latter having forged the crucial links among belief, conduct, and disposition by saying that a belief is that on which a person is prepared to act. Like any philosophical movement, the nature and content of pragmatism is subject to considerable debate, whether it is one of exegesis (determining what the original pragmatists thought it was) or substantive philosophical theory (what is the most defensible theory that satisfies certain goals). The term pragmatism was first used in print by James, who attributed the main ideas of this "old way of thinking" to Peirce. But Peirce would go on to criticize certain directions that the movement took, coining the new name pragmaticism to mark what he regarded as the original idea.
These four thinkers of philosophy had some comon threads ? and with other loosely affiliated thinkers such as Oliver Wendell Holmes ? is a broad emphasis on the importance of practical effects in connection with theoretical ideas as they impact on the human way of life in general and the life of inquiry in particular. One famous aspect of this view is Peirce's insistence that contrary to Descartes' famous and influential method in the Meditations on First Philosophy, doubt cannot be feigned or created for the purpose of conducting philosophical inquiry. Doubt, like belief, requires justification, that is, it arises from confrontation with some specific recalcitrant matter of fact (from what Dewey called a 'situation'), which unsettles our belief in some specific proposition. Inquiry is then the rationally self-controlled process of attempting to return to a settled state of belief about the matter.

The principle issues The questions of meaning, reality, and truth are inextricably linked in pragmatic thinking, making what is more tersely called the pragmatic theory of truth a central topic in the work of Peirce, James, and Dewey, however differently each thinker may have expressed himself on the subject. James especially had a penchant for the well-turned phrase, not all of whose consequences for misunderstanding he foresaw in the act of utterance, and many of his best-turned phrases ? "truth's cash value" (1907, p. 200) and "the true is only the expedient" (1907, p. 222) ? would be taken out of context and turned against the utterer afterwards. As a result, the pragmatic account is often caricatured in contemporary literature as the view that 'truth is what works', or that any idea that has practical utility is true. In reality the theory is a great deal more subtle, and bears a striking resemblance to better-respected contemporary views, particularly Crispin Wright's 'superassertibility' (see his book Truth and Objectivity).

Late in the 20th century Hilary Putnam (1994, p. 152) "cursorily summarized" a group of theses that he regarded as being "the basis of the philosophies of Peirce, and above all of James and Dewey", namely these:
? Antiskepticism. The thesis that doubt requires justification just as much as belief.
? Fallibilism. The thesis that there is no metaphysical warrant that a given belief will never need modification.
? Fact-value continuity. The thesis that there is no fundamental dichotomy between descriptive facts and normative values.
? Primacy of practice. The thesis that, in a certain sense, practice is primary in philosophy.

Putnam goes on to suggest that the reconciliation of antiskepticism and fallibilism is the central claim of American pragmatism. (

Example: More details on Key players

Classical pragmatists

? John Dewey (prominent philosopher of education, referred to his brand of pragmatism as instrumentalism)

? William James (influential psychologist and theorist of religion, as well as philosopher. First to be widely associated with the term "pragmatism" due to Peirce's lifelong unpopularity.)

? Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) was the founder of American pragmatism (later called by Peirce pragmaticism), an extender of the Scotistic theory of signs (called by Peirce semeiotic), an extraordinarily prolific logician and mathematician, and a developer of an evolutionary, psycho-physically monistic metaphysical system. A practicing chemist and geodesist by profession, he nevertheless considered scientific philosophy, and especially logic, to be his vocation. In the course of his polymathic researches, he wrote on a wide range of topics, from mathematical logic to psychology.

? George Herbert Mead (philosopher and social psychologist)

? Reinhold Niebuhr (theologian and social critic, ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the historical development, key contributors, and principle issues [for each] of pragmatism, analytic philosophy, and the Philosophy of Mind.