Chapter

Pragmatism and RealismA Modest Proposal

Kitcher Philip

in Preludes to Pragmatism

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199899555
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980154 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899555.003.0006
Pragmatism and RealismA Modest Proposal

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This chapter addresses the claim that James's Pragmatism should be read as committed to a revisionist account of truth that rejects the realism and the idea of truth-as-correspondence that the author champions. Of course, James offered a famous slogan—truth is “what works in the way of belief”—a slogan he immediately qualified (“in the long run and on the whole of course”). He also adamantly opposed particular versions of the idea of truth as correspondence (the “copy theory”), specifically those current in the metaphysical disputes of his time. Yet he was at pains to explain his difference with the “intellectualist” as one not about the ordinary meaning of “truth” but about a philosophical explication of that ordinary meaning: James aims to say what “correspondence to reality” means. His envisaged account is readily assimilated to the framework set up in Chapters 3 and 4, to everyday happenings in which people can be observed navigating in a world that exists independently of them. Thus, it is argued that the pragmatist notion of truth—at least for declarative statements about nature—can be elaborated along the lines favored by the author.

Keywords: James; pragmatism; truth; realism

Chapter.  7882 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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