This course is about pragmatism which emerged as a philosophical school in the USA about a century ago and is currently regarded as one of the most influential philosophical perspectives or approaches now. We will take a look at the original defenders of this movement and then consider some of its more recent proponents. Our aim is to assess the strengths and weaknesses of pragmatism vis-à-vis its ontological and epistemological aspects and also with regard to its social-political implications. We will also try to evaluate pragmatism from a broader philosophical perspective, asking the question of how pragmatism views philosophy as an intellectual discipline. To that end we will focus on Richard Rorty’s ideas on truth and the identity of philosophy. We will discuss Rorty’s reading of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and evaluate his controversial construal of Orwell and related ideas.
Reading material: A course package is available at Hisar Copy Shop (Nispetiye Str., 23). The reader contains the following:
Articles and books (with selected chapters):
Conant, J.: “Freedom, Cruelty, and Truth: Rorty versus Orwell” (2001)
Davidson, D.: Subjective, Intersubjective, and Objective (2001)
Dewey, J.: “The Practical Character of Reality”, “The Construction of Good”
James, W.: “What Pragmatism Means”, “Pragmatism’s Conception of Truth”, “The Meaning of the Word Truth”
Lynch, M. P.: Truth in Context: An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity (1998)
Orwell, G.: Nineteen Eighty-Four (, 1989)
Peirce, C. S.: “Pragmatic and Pragmatism”, “The fixation of Belief”, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear”, “What Pragmatism Is”
Putnam, H.: Reason, Truth, and History (1986), Realism with a Human Face (1990), Pragmatism (1995)
Rorty, R.: Consequences of Pragmatism (1982), Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), Philosophy and Social Hope (2000), Objectivity, Relativism and Truth (1991), “Response to Conant” (2001)
Wittgenstein, L.: Philosophical Investigations (1958)
Baç, M.: “Pluralistic Kantianism” (2006)
Grading: You will write a single paper for this course, at least 4000 words or approximately 12 pages (60% grade value). It will be submitted early in the finals period. You are required to produce a written progress report (10% grade value) several weeks before the submission of paper. The remaining 30% will come from your presentations and participation in our class discussions.
Reminder: Students are responsible for arranging a presentation time in consultation with me. It is inadvisable for you to leave the determination of your presentation time to the last few weeks.
Plagiarism: Please read “About Plagiarism” given at the beginning of the course reader carefully.