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Anna Boncompagni
(Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow ‐ UCI)

“Pragmatist Perspectives on Truth and Relativism”

Date: January 16, 2019
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Event Location: HIB 55

A connection between pragmatism and relativism is often taken for granted in
the philosophical debate on relativism, although classical pragmatists – Charles
S. Peirce, William James and John Dewey – were not particularly concerned
with the issue. In order to assess whether such a connection is justified and in
what terms, I examine the controversial pragmatist conception of truth, as it
emerges from the writings of Peirce, James and Dewey, and compare it with
alethic relativism. I will argue that, besides there being relevant differences
between the three approaches, their relationship with relativism is more
articulated that it usually appears, even in the case of James’ often criticized
definition of truth as usefulness. Finally, I will extend the discussion to the
broader themes of moral and cultural relativism.