Pragmatism and Change of View

Isaac Levi

in Pragmatism and Inquiry

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698134
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191742323 | DOI:
Pragmatism and Change of View

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Foundationalists require that (1) current beliefs be justified and there (2) should be self-certified first principles and premises. Antifoundationalists reject (2) but typically endorse (1). Pragmatists reject both (1) and (2). Peirce, James, and Dewey all agreed that well-conducted inquiry seeks to modify attitudes. Peirce and James focused on attitudes that carry truth-values and urged agents to “seek Truth and shun Error” (James 1897). Dewey did not require that the attitudes to be modified should carry truth-values. Inquiries that issue in change in moral or political values or in the production and evaluation of works of art share broad structural similarities to scientific inquiries. Dewey departed from Peirce and James in abandoning the injunction to “seek Truth, shun Error.” Dewey emphasized his view that inquiry terminates with an “assertion.” Some assertions are true and some are false. But many carry no truth-value. If the inquiry is well conducted, the assertion is warranted. Warranted assertion is not a replacement for true assertion. Peirce, James, and Dewey agreed that inquiry is goal-directed. Some inquiries seek truth and shun error in some sense or other. Others do not. There is a need for some understanding of practical deliberation and the models of rational choice that help articulate such understanding. Pace Dewey, there is a need for a model or models of inquiries that focus on seeking valuable information while avoiding error. But there is also a need for accounts of inquiries where other desiderata are the focus of attention.

Keywords: foundationalists; antifoundationalists; pragmatists; assertion; warranted assertion

Chapter.  9907 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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