J SP III : Distinguishing Epistemic Pragmatism and Contextualism1 Purdue University There is a tendency among contemporary epistemologists to call every social or existential theory of knowledge pragmatism or neopragmatism. In this paper, I hope to show that this tendency is an error. In the first section, I will explore and attempt to define epistemic pragmatism. In the second section, I will explicate an existential alternative to pragmatism, epistemic contextualism,2 and differentiate it from pragmatism. In conclusion, I will apply my definition of pragmatism and the pragmatism-contextualism distinction in an attempt to codify the theories of knowledge of some of the popular so-called neopragmatists. Epistemic Pragmatism The term "pragmatism" (and indeed, the term "contextualism") refers to much more than simply a theory of knowledge. Pragmatism can rightly be described as a complete philosophical Weltanschauung, a plenary and exhaustive view of the world and the human animal's relationship to it. Furthermore, pragmatism is a holistic, organic system in which every part and parcel coheres with and relies upon every other. Thus, it may be in some way inappropriate or illegitimate to partition off pragmatism's epistemology or metaphysics or ethics without talking about the whole. Nevertheless, in this paper I
The Journal of Speculative Philosophy – Penn State University Press
Published: Jan 2, 2002
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