Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis deals with an antinomy in debates among contemporary Pragmatists. Lodging the authority of rationality in the context of evolving traditions raises problems of relativism. Yet attempts to preserve the transcendence of reason raise epistemological problems Pragmatism was designed to circumvent. This thesis adjudicates disputes among contemporary Pragmatists, through a discussion of the historical origins of the issues that divide them.;Chapter I summarizes the structure of the argument. Chapter II describes the cultural context in which Pragmatism emerged. It is argued that even for Peirce, despite his emphasis on formal logic, Pragmatism cannot be understood apart from issues in ethics, religion and metaphysics.;Chapter III discusses Peirce's realism in relation to his opponents. Peirce's limit theory of truth is shown to successfully circumvent the opposition of realism and idealism.;Chapter IV details Peirce's view that science is self-corrective. The consistency of Peirce's claim is defended from objections by various commentators. The integration of logic, morals and metaphysics is again established.;Chapter V argues that there is an irreducible tension between Peirce's fallibilism and his vindication of science as the sole epistemic authority. His attempt to resolve the antinomy between the immanence and the transcendence of reason thus fails in its own terms. The attempts by Putnam and by Jardine to resurrect Peirce's limit theory of truth are also shown to be inadequate. In rejecting many of Peirce's least defensible epistemological claims Putnam and Jardine only amplify Peirce's problems.;Chapter VI shows that Dewey's notions of conduct and community provide the basis for a view of epistemic authority that is immune from Peirce's problems and from problems of relativism. Chapter VII describes Dewey's view of inquiry. His thesis that the aim of inquiry is warranted assertability is defended.;Chapter VIII uses this reading of Dewey to defend Rorty's view of the meaning and significance of Pragmatism from the criticisms of Putnam and Prado.



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