Recovering American Philosophy


Misak’s The American Pragmatists goes a long way towards correcting the distorted account of pragmatism’s founding and development that prevails among contemporary pragmatists invested in the “classical” idiom. Yet Misak does not give enough attention to the different conceptions of metaphilosophy at work in the early pragmatists. As it turns out, the “subjectivist” strands within pragmatism that Misak rejects are frequently accompanied by an overly robust metaphilosophy, whereas the “objectivist” pragmatism that Misak favors is metaphilosophically modest. This correlation is not coincidental. In this paper, the author draws out the metaphilosophical differences among pragmatists and argues that pragmatism’s more ambitious metaphilosophical impulses should be abandoned.