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Pragmatism's EvolutionOrganism and Environment in American Philosophy$
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Trevor Pearce

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226719887

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720081.001.0001

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Pragmatist Logic: Evolution, Experiment, and Inquiry

Pragmatist Logic: Evolution, Experiment, and Inquiry

Chapter:
(p.290) Seven Pragmatist Logic: Evolution, Experiment, and Inquiry
Source:
Pragmatism's Evolution
Author(s):

Trevor Pearce

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226720081.003.0008

This chapter shows that Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey, in the most famous texts associated with classical pragmatism, developed an account of scientific inquiry that was inspired by evolutionary ideas and by Herbert Spencer’s organism-environment framework. This account was grounded in their psychological and educational research and proceeded hand in hand with their analyses of ethics and social reform. In the 1890s and early 1900s, pragmatism (now finally going by that name) presented a model of inquiry—a logic, in the terminology of the time—that that was both evolutionary and experimental. Despite Peirce’s claims to the contrary, each of the classical pragmatists developed a “natural history” approach to logic and viewed it as fundamentally experimental. Although Dewey and Peirce, unlike James, were sympathetic to the idea of directed variation in evolution, Dewey and his students linked it to individual and social goals whereas Peirce connected it to a broader cosmic destiny.

Keywords:   Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, pragmatism, logic, natural history, inquiry, evolution, experiment, classical pragmatism

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