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The Practical TurnPragmatism in Britain in the Long Twentieth Century$
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Cheryl Misak and Huw Price

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266168

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266168.001.0001

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The ‘Middle’ Wittgenstein (and the ‘Later’ Ramsey) on the Pragmatist Conception of Truth

The ‘Middle’ Wittgenstein (and the ‘Later’ Ramsey) on the Pragmatist Conception of Truth

(p.29) 3 The ‘Middle’ Wittgenstein (and the ‘Later’ Ramsey) on the Pragmatist Conception of Truth1
The Practical Turn

Anna Boncompagni

British Academy

This chapter examines some remarks Ludwig Wittgenstein expressed on pragmatism in manuscripts and lectures during the first half of the 1930s. These remarks focus principally on the Jamesian conception of truth, according to which, roughly, a belief or a proposition is true if it is useful. Wittgenstein acknowledges that this conception is able to capture some characters of ordinary language, but at the same time, he criticizes some aspects of it, and his criticism strongly resembles Frank Ramsey’s attitude towards the same topics. In this sense, it is argued that Ramsey had a role both for Wittgenstein approaching pragmatism, and for the partly negative attitude with which he came to judge it. Yet, the two thinkers’ general perspectives diverge when it comes to the place of theory in philosophical activity.

Keywords:   Wittgenstein, Ramsey, William James, pragmatism, truth, ordinary language, usefulness

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