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Worlds of Truth: A Philosophy of Knowledge

ISBN: 978-1-4443-1093-1
168 pages
March 2009, Wiley-Blackwell
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Worlds of Truth: A Philosophy of Knowledge explicates and builds upon a half century of philosophical work by the noted philosopher Israel Scheffler.
  • Propounds a new doctrine of plurealism which maintains the existence of multiple real worlds
  • Offers a defense of absolute truth, which denies certainty and eschews absolutism, and defends systematic relativity, objectivity, and fallibilism
  • Emphasizes a wide range of pragmatic interests: epistemology and scientific development, cognition and emotion, science and ethics, ritual and culture, and art and science
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Preface viii

Acknowledgments x

Introduction 1

Part I: Inquiry 5

Chapter 1: Justification 7

1. Beliefs 7

2. Access to truth 8

3. Cogito ergo sum 9

4. Mathematical certainty 11

5. Classical logic 12

6. C. I. Lewis’ empiricism 14

7. Access as a metaphor 17

8. J. F. Fries and K. Popper 18

9. Voluntarism and linearity 19

10. One-way justification 20

11. Beginning in the middle 21

12. Justification, contextual and comparative 22

13. Justification in the empirical sciences 23

14. Circularity versus linearity 25

15. Democratic controls 25

16. Interactionism 27

Chapter 2: Truth 30

1. Allergy to absolute truth 31

2. Provisionality and truth 32

3. Truth versus verification 34

4. Truth and fixity 36

5. Transparency, Tarski, and Carnap 38

6. Truth and certainty 42

7. Sentences as truth candidates 44

8. Theoretical terms 44

9. Varieties of instrumentalism 45

10. Pragmatism and instrumentalism 45

11. Systems, simplicity, reduction 46

12. Crises in science 51

13. Reduction and expansion 52

Chapter 3: Worlds 55

1. Philosophies of truth 55

2. Operationism and truth 57

3. Version-dependence 59

4. Differences among scientifically oriented philosophers 61

5. Monism, pluralism, plurealism 62

6. Realism versus irrealism 66

7. A theory of everything 72

8. The status of ethics 75

9. Emotive theories; Ayer and Stevenson 75

10. Moore’s ethical intuitionism 77

11. Dewey and ethical naturalism 79

12. Symbol, reference, and ritual 81

Part II: Related Pragmatic Themes 93

Chapter 4: Belief and Method 95

Introduction 95

1. Problems of pragmatism and pragmatic responses 98

2. Peirce’s theory of belief, doubt, and inquiry 102

3. Peirce’s comparison of methods 104

4. Difficulties in Peirce’s treatment 106

5. An epistemological interpretation 108

6. The primacy of method 109

Chapter 5: Action and Commitment 114

Chapter 6: Emotion and Cognition 125

1. Emotions in the service of cognition 126

2. Cognitive emotions 132

Index 143

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Israel Scheffler is Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education and Philosophy Emeritus at Harvard University and serves as Scholar-in-Residence at the Mandel Center at Brandeis University. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a founding member of the National Academy of Education and a past president of both the Philosophy of Science Association and the Charles S. Peirce Society. Among his various books are The Anatomy of Inquiry (1963), Science and Subjectivity (1967), Four Pragmatists (1974), Beyond the Letter (1979), and Symbolic Worlds: Art, Science, Language, Ritual (1997).
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  • Explicates and expands upon Israel Scheffler's formidable body of work on philosophy of knowledge
  • Propounds a new doctrine of plurealism which maintains the existence of multiple real worlds
  • Offers a defense of absolute truth, which denies certainty and eschews absolutism, and defends systematic relativity, objectivity, and fallibilism
  • Emphasizes a wide range of pragmatic interests: epistemology and scientific development, cognition and emotion, science and ethics, ritual and culture, and art and science
See More
"The book will be of interest to philosophers working on pragmatism, pluralism, relativism, and justification". (International Studies In The Philosophy Of Science, 1 December 2010)

"This volume will be useful for specialists in pragmatism, but perhaps not sufficiently original for all collections." (CHOICE, October 2009)

"Worlds of Truth develops an epistemology that accommodates science. It construes knowledge as advancing holistically. Because justification accrues through systematization, it is a property of theories, not primarily of individual sentences. Drawing on and contributing to the pragmatic tradition, Scheffler shows how a commitment to fallibilism is not a concession to epistemic inadequacy but an asset to understanding."
Catherine Z. Elgin, Harvard University

"Israel Scheffler’s Worlds of Truth is a book that can be read with profit and enjoyment by the general reader as well as by the philosophical expert. In recent years both general readers and professional philosophers have tended to think of "pragmatism" as a fuzzy philosophy closely allied to postmodernism, and as in deep opposition to analytic philosophy, which is often seen as anti-humanistic. In this important book, and in clear and elegant prose, Scheffler performs a great service by showing in detail how to combine the antifoundationalism, the holism, and the deep fallibilism of the pragmatists with the respect for the notion of absolute truth, and the sharp distinction between being true and being warranted at a given moment characteristic of the analytic philosophers. The result is both an attractive and I believe largely right epistemological picture, and a portrait of the philosophical thinking of a significant philosopher, whose work deserves to be more widely known."
Hilary Putnam, Harvard University

"Many things pass for 'pragmatism' these days that the original pragmatists would not recognize. It might well be said that the pragmatist tradition has lost its way. It is the perfect time for this book, which builds upon the groundbreaking work of the original figures, but does not hesitate to criticize their earlier discussions where appropriate and improve on them in the service of the development of a philosophically adequate pragmatic epistemology and metaphysics."
Harvey Siegel, University of Miami

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