1. Platonists, Positivists, and Pragmatists
The essays in this book are attempts to draw consequences from a prag- matist theory about truth. This theory says that truth is not the sort of thing one should expect to have a philosophically interesting theory about. For pragmatists, “truth” is just the name of a property which all true statements share. It is what is common to “Bacon did not write Shakespeare,” “It rained yesterday,” “E equals mc²” “Love is better than hate,” “The Alle- gory of Painting was Vermeer’s best work,” “2 plus 2 is 4,” and “There are nondenumerable infinities.” Pragmatists doubt that there is much to be said about this common feature. They doubt this for the same reason they doubt that there is much to be said about the common feature shared by such morally praiseworthy actions as Susan leaving her husband, Ameri- ca joining the war against the Nazis, America pulling out of Vietnam, Socrates not escaping from jail, Roger picking up litter from the trail, and the suicide of the Jews at Masada. They see certain acts as good ones to perform, under the circumstances, but doubt that there is anything gen- eral and useful to say about what makes them all good. The assertion of a given sentence—or the adoption of a disposition to assert the sentence, the conscious acquisition of a belief—is a justifiable, praiseworthy act in certain circumstances. But, a fortiori, it is not likely that there is something general and useful to be said about what makes All such actions good-about the common feature of all the sentences which one should ac- quire a disposition to assert.
Pragmatists think that the history of attempts to isolate the True or the Good, or to define the word “true” or “good,” supports their suspicion
Consequences of Pragmatism
University of Minnesota Press, 1982