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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the pragmatic method and its application in solving philosophical problems. While classical pragmatism quickly became identified with the theory of truth that dominated critical discussions of it, both of its founders, Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, understood pragmatism essentially as a method. The article begins with an overview of pragmatism and the “Pragmatic Maxim”. In particular, it compares Peirce’s conceptions of pragmatism with James’s view that the pragmatic method would allow us to resolve many disputes in philosophy, and argues that their differences undermine any purely ‘Peircian’ reading of James’s Pragmatic Maxim. It then examines the advantages and drawbacks of three other readings of James’s maxim: the “activist” reading, the “subjectivist” reading, and the “practical” reading.

Keywords: pragmatic method, philosophy, pragmatism, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, Pragmatic Maxim, Peircian reading, activist reading, subjectivist reading, practical reading

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