Gordon, Lewis John (2018) Rorty, conceptual schemes, and the traditional aspirations of Philosophy. Masters thesis, Keele University.

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Pragmatism is an anti-representationalist movement in philosophy which has attempted to reform, and in some instances, undermine, philosophy’s traditional aspirations, in order to keep the discipline connected with our first-order endeavours. I argue that the method which pragmatism uses to achieve this is not only deeply flawed (as it leads to its own rejection) but also unnecessary; philosophy can be practical without being pragmatist.

I begin with detailed expositions of five different theories under the title of ‘pragmatism’, from classical to contemporary, identifying the two central commitments which all of these theories share: a commitment to keeping philosophy connected with our first-order endeavours, coupled with the method of rejecting any foundations of knowledge. This serves as a working definition of pragmatism across the board, showing exactly what needs to be undermined in order to undermine pragmatism.

Much of my thesis, however, is focused upon Rorty’s Neo-Pragmatism, as Rorty specifically provides a response to the traditional distinction between scheme and content, which justifies the existence of such foundations of knowledge. I argue that there is a tension between Rorty and his use of Davidson in rejecting the scheme/content distinction, which, when exploited, leads to a rejection of the entire pragmatist method. This, in turn, makes our traditional philosophical aspirations once again possible.

I conclude by establishing that whilst pragmatism, as a method, is untenable, its project of keeping philosophy connected with our first-order inquiries should not be left ignored, lest we wish our discipline to fall any further into public disrepute. I suggest a way in which philosophy can use its traditional aspirations to serve our practical purposes, allowing philosophy to be practical without losing centuries of philosophical innovation.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Pragmatism, Philosophy, Representationalism, Rorty, Davidson, Realism, Conceptual Schemes, Metaphysics
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Politics, Philosophy, International Relations and Environment
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2018 09:21
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2018 09:21
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/5538

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