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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 Spirit of Pragmatism in the Quads of Oxford

The Spirit of Pragmatism in the Quads of Oxford

(p.75) 6 The Spirit of Pragmatism in the Quads of Oxford
The Practical Turn

David Bakhurst

British Academy

This chapter discusses the influence of pragmatism in Oxford in the second half of the twentieth century. It begins by identifying five characteristic components of pragmatism: (1) a doxastic theory of truth; (2) a broadly empiricist account of meaning; (3) a fallibilist, dynamic, inquiry-centred account of knowledge; (4) a hostility to dualism; and (5) an affirmation of the primacy of practice. It then shows that each of these ideas finds expression in the writings of one of the great figures of Oxford philosophy—P. F. Strawson. Nevertheless, it argues that there are aspects of Strawson’s conception of philosophy—particularly his commitment to descriptive metaphysics—that are alien to the spirit of pragmatism in a way that reflects something deep about the style of Oxford philosophy of the period.

Keywords:   descriptive metaphysics, fallibilism, inquiry, meaning, Oxford philosophy, practice, pragmatism, Strawson, truth, value

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