SAAP Annual Meeting 2015

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The Partial Eclipse of American Pragmatism

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Histories of twentieth century American pragmatism typically come in two flavors. One flavor is tragic: on this account, pragmatism was unfairly eclipsed by logical empiricism in the 1930s-40s and never quite regained the stature it enjoyed during the heyday of James, Dewey, and other “classical” pragmatists. The second flavor is more triumphant. On this account, the best qualities of American pragmatism were actually absorbed into logical empiricism, its successors, and into analytic philosophy in general. Here I’ll focus on one particular text—Dewey’s 1939 A Theory of Valuation—as offering a particularly clear opportunity to examine the relationship between pragmatism and logical empiricism, and to reach some conclusions about their subsequent history.


John Capps    
Rochester Institute of Technology
United States


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