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Title: How to use pragmatism pragmatically: Suggestions for the 21st century
Author(s): Biesta, G J J
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Editor(s): Rud, AG
Garrison, Jim
Stone, Lynda
Citation: Biesta GJJ (2009) How to use pragmatism pragmatically: Suggestions for the 21st century. In: Rud AG, Garrison Jim, Stone Lynda (ed.). John Dewey at One Hundred-Fifty: Reflections for a New Century, West Lafayette IN: Purdue University Press, pp. 30-39.
Issue Date: 2009
Abstract: First paragraph: I am never entirely sure what those who call themselves pragmatists or who declare an affinity with pragmatism actually believe in. Pragmatists would probably respond that this is the wrong question, as what matters is not what they believe in but what they do with their beliefs – or, to be more precise, what follows from their beliefs. After all, one of the founding insights of pragmatism is Charles Peirce's contention that different beliefs are distinguished solely “by the different modes of action to which they give rise” so that “(i)f beliefs do not differ in this respect (...) then no mere differences in the manner of consciousness of them can make them different beliefs, any more than playing a tune in different keys is playing different tunes” (Peirce 1955, p.29). Yet even if it is granted that we should focus first and foremost on the consequences of pragmatism, it cannot be denied that pragmatism also consists of a set of beliefs such as, in John Dewey's case, a belief in naturalism, in communication, in the scientific method, in intelligence and in democracy. The problem is that many critics of pragmatism have focused on these beliefs rather than on the particular arguments in which these beliefs function. This has led to much misunderstanding about pragmatism, not only amongst critics of pragmatism but sometimes also amongst those who are sympathetic to pragmatism.
Rights: Copyright © 2009 Purdue University. Copyright for this book chapter lies with Purdue University. Purdue University must be contacted for permission to reuse material for commercial purposes.; The publisher has granted permission for use of this book chapter in this Repository. The chapter was first published in John Dewey at One Hundred-Fifty: Reflections for a New Century by Purdue University Press.

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