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American Philosophy

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Pets, People, and Pragmatism

Erin McKenna

Pets, People, and Pragmatism examines human relationships with pets without assuming that such relations are either benign or unnatural and to be avoided. The book addresses a lack of respect in pet-people relationships; for respectful relationships to be a real possibility, however, humans must make the effort to understand the beings with whom we live, work, and play. American pragmatism understands that humans and other animal beings have been interacting and transforming each other for thousands of years. There is nothing "unnatural" about the human domestication of other animal beings, though domestication does raise specific practical and ethical questions. A pragmatist account of our relationship with those animal beings commonly considered as pets does not prohibit the use of these beings in research, entertainment, competition, or work. It does, however, find abuse and neglect unethical. Since abuse can occur in any use of other animal beings, this pragmatist account takes up the abusive practices in research, entertainment, competition, and work without arguing that research, entertainment, competition, and work are inherently abusive. Some of the sources of abuse have been addressed by utilitarian and deontological accounts, but a pragmatist evolutionary perspective offers unique insights and results in some surprising conclusions: for instance, there may be an ethical obligation to let a horse race, a dog show, or a cat compete in agility.Pets, People, and Pragmatism embarks on a philosophical journey that will captivate scholars and pet enthusiasts alike. It provides an important contribution to longstanding debates in the area of animal issues and strengthens the idea of multiple approaches to non-human beings. It also opens space for approaches that challenge some of the assumptions in the field of philosophy that have resulted in a dualistic and hierarchical approach to metaphysics and ethics.

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Philosophy Americana

Making Philosophy at Home in American Culture

Douglas R. Anderson

In this engaging book, Douglas Anderson begins with the assumption that philosophy-the Greek love of wisdom-is alive and well in American culture. At the same time, professional philosophy remains relatively invisible. Anderson traverses American life to find places in the wider culture where professional philosophy in the distinctively American tradition can strike up a conversation. How might American philosophers talk to us about our religious experience, or political engagement, or literature-or even, popular music? Anderson's second aim is to find places where philosophy happens in nonprofessional guises-cultural places such as country music, rock'n roll, and Beat literature. He not only enlarges the tradition of American philosophers such as John Dewey and William James by examining lesser-known figures such as Henry Bugbee and Thomas Davidson, but finds the theme and ideas of American philosophy in some unexpected places, such as the music of Hank Williams, Tammy Wynette, and Bruce Springsteen, and the writingsof Jack Kerouac.The idea of philosophy Americanatrades on the emergent genre of music Americana,rooted in traditional themes and styles yet engaging our present experiences. The music is popularbut not thoroughly driven by economic considerations, and Anderson seeks out an analogous role for philosophical practice, where philosophy and popular culture are co-adventurers in the life of ideas. Philosophy Americana takes seriously Emerson's quest for the extraordinary in the ordinary and James's belief that popular philosophy can still be philosophy.

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Pragmatic Pluralism and the Problem of God

Sami Pihlström

Pragmatism mediates rival extremes, and religion is no exception: the problems of realism versus antirealism, evidentialism versus fideism, and science versus religion, along with other key issues in the philosophy of religion, receive new interpretations when examined from a pragmatist point of view. Religion is then understood as a human practice with certain inherent aims and goals, responding to specific human needs and interests, serving certain important human values, and seeking to resolve problematic situations that naturally arise from our practices themselves, especially our need to live with our vulnerability, finitude, guilt, and mortality.

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Pragmatism as Post-Postmodernism

Lessons from John Dewey

Larry A. Hickman

Larry A. Hickman presents John Dewey as very much at home in the busy mix of contemporary philosophy-as a thinker whose work now, more than fifty years after his death, still furnishes fresh insights into cutting-edge philosophical debates. Hickman argues that it is precisely the rich, pluralistic mix of contemporary philosophical discourse, with its competing research programs in French-inspired postmodernism, phenomenology, Critical Theory, Heidegger studies, analytic philosophy, and neopragmatism-all busily engaging, challenging, and informing one another-that invites renewed examination of Dewey's central ideas.Hickman offers a Dewey who both anticipated some of the central insights of French-inspired postmodernism and, if he were alive today, would certainly be one of its most committed critics, a Dewey who foresaw some of the most trenchant problems associated with fostering global citizenship, and a Dewey whose core ideas are often at odds with those of some of his most ardent neopragmatist interpreters.In the trio of essays that launch this book, Dewey is an observer and critic of some of the central features of French-inspired postmodernism and its American cousin, neopragmatism. In the next four, Dewey enters into dialogue with contemporary critics of technology, including Jrgen Habermas, Andrew Feenberg, and Albert Borgmann. The next two essays establish Dewey as an environmental philosopher of the first rank-a worthy conversation partner for Holmes Ralston, III, Baird Callicott, Bryan G. Norton, and Aldo Leopold. The concluding essays provide novel interpretations of Dewey's views of religious belief, the psychology of habit, philosophical anthropology, and what he termed the epistemology industry.

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Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead

Michael Epperson

In Process and Reality and other works, Alfred North Whitehead struggled to come to terms with the impact the new science of quantum mechanics would have on metaphysics.This ambitious book is the first extended analysis of the intricate relationships between relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and Whitehead's cosmology. Michael Epperson illuminates the intersection of science and philosophy in Whitehead's work-and details Whitehead's attempts to fashion an ontology coherent with quantum anomalies.Including a nonspecialist introduction to quantum mechanics, Epperson adds an essential new dimension to our understanding of Whitehead-and of the constantly enriching encounter between science and philosophy in our century.

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Race Questions, Provincialism, and Other American Problems

Expanded Edition

Josiah Royce

In 1908, American philosopher Josiah Royce foresaw the future. Race questions and prejudices, he said, promise to become, in the near future, still more important than they have ever been before.Like his student W. E. B. Du Bois in Souls of Black Folk (1903), Royce recognized that the problem of the next century would be, as Du Bois put it, the problem of the color line.The twentieth century saw vast changes in race relations, but even after the election of the first African-American U.S. president, questions of race and the nature of community persist. Though left out of the mainstream of academic philosophy, Royce's conception of community nevertheless influenced generations of leaders who sought to end racial, religious, and national prejudice. Royce's work provided the conceptual starting place for the Cultural Pluralism movement of the 1920s and 1930s, and his notion of the Beloved Community influenced the work and vision of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement. Communities, whether they are understood as racial or geographic, religious or scientific, Royce argued, are formed by the commitments of individuals to causes or shared ideals. This starting point-the philosophy of loyalty-provides a means to understand the nature of communities, their conflicts, and their potential for growth and coexistence. Just as this work had relevance in the twentieth century in the face of anti-Black and anti-immigrant prejudice, Royce's philosophy of loyalty and conception of community has new relevance in the twenty-first century. This new edition of Royce's Race Questions, Provincialism, and Other American Questions includes a new introduction to Royce's philosophy of loyalty and the essays included in the volume, and a second introduction connecting Royce's work with contemporary discussions of race. The volume also includes six supplementary essays by Royce (unavailable since their initial publication before 1916) that provide background for the original essays, raise questions about his views, and show the potential of those views to inform other discussions about religious pluralism, the philosophy of science, the role of history, and the future of the American community.

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Reconstructing Individualism

A Pragmatic Tradition from Emerson to Ellison

James M. Albrecht

America has a love-hate relationship with individualism. In Reconstructing Individualism, James Albrecht argues that our conceptions of individualism have remained trapped within the assumptions of classic liberalism. He traces an alternative genealogy of individualist ethics in four major American thinkers-Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, John Dewey, and Ralph Ellison. These writers' shared commitments to pluralism (metaphysical and cultural), experimentalism, and a melioristic stance toward value and reform led them to describe the self as inherently relational. Accordingly, they articulate models of selfhood that are socially engaged and ethically responsible, and they argue that a reconceived-or, in Dewey's term, "reconstructed"-individualism is not merely compatible with but necessary to democratic community. Conceiving selfhood and community as interrelated processes, they call for an ongoing reform of social conditions so as to educate and liberate individuality, and, conversely, they affirm the essential role individuality plays in vitalizing communal efforts at reform.

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Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups

Naoko Saito

What could it mean to speak of philosophy as the education of grownups? This book takes Stanley Cavell's much-quoted, yet enigmatic phrase as the provocation for a series of explorations into themes of education that run throughout his work - through his response to Wittgenstein, Austin and ordinary language philosophy, through his readings of Thoreau and of the moral perfectionism he identifies with Emerson, through his discussions of literature and film. Hilary Putnam has described Cavell not only as one of the most creative thinkers of today but as amongst the few contemporary philosophers to explore the territory of philosophy as education. Yet in mainstream philosophy his work is apt to be referred to rather than engaged with, and the full import of his writings for education is still to be appreciated. Cavell engages in a sustained exploration of the nature of philosophy, and this is not separable from his preoccupation with what it is to teach and to learn, with the kinds of transformation these might imply, and with the significance of these things for our language and politics, for our lives as a whole.In recent years Cavell's work has been the subject of a number of books of essays, but this is the first to address directly the importance of education in his work. Such matters cannot fail to be of significance not only for the disciplinary fields of philosophy and education, but in politics, literature, and film studies - and in the humanities as a whole. A substantial introduction provides an overview of the philosophical purchase of questions of education in his work, while the essays are framed by two new pieces by Cavell himself. The book shows what it means to read Cavell, and simultaneously what it means to read philosophically, in itself a part of our education as grownups.

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The Things in Heaven and Earth:An Essay in Pragmatic Naturalism

An Essay in Pragmatic Naturalism

John Ryder

The Things in Heaven and Earth develops and applies the American philosophical naturalist tradition of the mid-20th century, specifically the work of three of the most prominent figures of what is called Columbia Naturalism: John Dewey, John Herman Randall Jr., and Justus Buchler. The book argues for the philosophical value and usefulness of this underappreciated tradition for a number of contemporary theoretical and practical issues, such as the modernist/postmodernist divide and debates over philosophical constructivism.Pragmatic naturalism offers a distinctive ontology of constitutive relations. Relying on Buchler's ordinal ontology and on the relationality implicit in Dewey's instrumentalism, the book gives a detailed account of this approach in chapters that deal with issues in systematic ontology, epistemology, constructivism and objectivity, philosophical theology, art, democratic theory, foreign policy, education, humanism, and cosmopolitanism.

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Thoreau's Importance for Philosophy

Rick Anthony Furtak

The philosophical significance of Henry David Thoreau's life and writings is far from settled. Although his best-known book, Walden, is admired as a classic work of American literature, it has not yet been widely recognized as an important philosophical text. In fact, many members of the academic philosophical community in America would be reluctant to classify Thoreau as a philosopher at all. The purpose of this volume is to remedy this neglect, to explain Thoreau's philosophical significance, and to argue that we can still learn from his polemical conception of philosophy.Thoreau sought to establish philosophy as a way of life, and to root our philosophical, conceptual affairs in more practical or existential concerns. His work provides us with a sustained meditation on the appropriate conduct of life and the importance of leading our lives with integrity, avoiding what he calls "quiet desperation." The contributors to this volume approach Thoreau's writings from different angles, collectively bringing to light what, in his own distinctive and idiosyncratic way, this major American thinker has meant to multiple areas of philosophical inquiry, and why he is still relevant. They show how the imagination, according to Thoreau, might be related to the disclosure of truth; they illuminate the nuances of embodied consciousness and explore the links between moral character and scientific knowledge. They clarify Thoreau's project by locating it in relation to earlier philosophical authors and traditions, noting the ways in which he either anticipated or influenced a host of later thinkers. They explore his aesthetic views, his naturalism, his theory of self, his ethical principles, and his political stances. Most importantly, they show how Thoreau returns philosophy to its roots as the love of wisdom.

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