Pragmatism and Metaethics [chapter]

Andrew Sepielli
2017 The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics  
Among analytic philosophers, pragmatism tends to elicit two reactions that might seem to stand in tension with one other. The first reaction is confusion about what pragmatism is, exactly. The second is steadfast rejection of it. It's easier to reconcile these disparate responses when we consider that pragmatism tends to show up under two different guises. The first is as a woolly gestalt, expressed through support for experiment, democracy, fallibilism, and solidarity, and condemnation of
more » ... ritarianism, representationalism, Cartesianism, and dogmatic metaphysics. The second is as the simple doctrine that truth is what's good in any way whatsoever to believe. In its first guise, pragmatism tends to provoke confusion; in its second, rejection. As a result, pragmatism occupies at best a precarious position within the mainstream of analytic philosophy. Its influence on contemporary metaethics has been especially weak. My target reader for this article, then, is someone who is familiar with the basic problemspaces in contemporary metaethics and the moves commonly made within those spaces, but who is not already sympathetic to pragmatism. I want to help such a reader to make sense of pragmatism in some of its many guises, to appreciate both its subtlety and its power as a philosophical stance, and to understand its bearing on some of the main debates within metaethics. of
doi:10.4324/9781315213217-38 fatcat:gtm6kijb3zaedoyw7fppiawzgy