Tempered Pragmatism

Ian Rumfitt

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This paper assesses the prospects of a pragmatist theory of content. I begin by criticising the theory presented in D.H. Mellor’s essay ‘Successful Semantics’. I then identify problems and lacunae in the pragmatist theory of meaning sketched in Chapter 13 of Dummett’s The Logical Basis of Metaphysics. The prospects are brighter, I contend, for a tempered pragmatism, in which the theory of content is permitted to draw upon irreducible notions of truth and falsity. I sketch the shape of such a theory and illustrate the role of its pragmatist elements by showing how they point towards a promising account of the truth conditions of indicative conditionals. A feature of the account is that it validates Modus Ponens whilst invalidating Modus Tollens.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Practical Turn
Subtitle of host publicationPragmatism in Britain in the Long Twentieth Century (Proceedings of the British Academy)
EditorsCheryl Misak, Huw Price
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)978-0197266168
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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