The Metaphysics of Morris R. Cohen: From Realism to Objective Relativism


Morris Cohen is mainly remembered as a philosopher of history and law, a friend of jurists (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Felix Frankfurter), and a teacher of more prominent philosophers (e.g., Ernest Nagel, Paul Weiss, Morton White). But his unique position as a student of the work of Russell and Peirce led him to make a distinctive contribution to the debate over realism in in the 1910s. Largely ignored and completely uncited, his early papers formulated what would later be called "objective relativism," influencing the later work of Columbia naturalism, hence American philosophy, from the 1940s to the 1960s.