On the one hand, Austin appreciates truth as the aim not only of science, but also of philosophy. On the other hand, truth in his works is demythized, contextualized, or even relativized. I analyze this ambivalence by considering some aspects of Austin’s thought which may appear close to pragmatism: his claims that the bearer of truth is assertion as a speech act, that speech acts are to be assessed as felicitous and infelicitous before being assessed (if pertinent) as true or false, and that the truth/falsity judgment is concerned with assertions in their contexts, including the participants’ goals and knowledge. These claims are, however, argued for in full coherence with a corrispondentist conception of truth. At a closer examination, Austin’s conception of truth appears to be an independent, “heretic” development of that of Frege. In taking distance from Frege, albeit on a Fregean basis, Austin went some length in the direction in which pragmatists too had gone, without actually sharing any properly pragmatist assumption.
In this paper I argue against John MacFarlane’s (2014) radical relativist semantics. By developing an argument of Ross & Schroeder (2013) I claim that belief in this relativist theory is incompatible with being a rational agent that acts in accordance with the norms of assertion and retraction. My conclusion is therefore that MacFarlane's semantics is committed to postulating that competent speakers are ignorant of the very theory that provides a – putative – correct account of their linguistic behaviour.
Peirce’s intellectual debt to Kant’s transcendentalism has been long recognized. In this essay I investigate Kant’s thoughts on “what is pragmatic” (das Pragmatische) as a source of inspiration for him. Peirce was well acquainted with this often neglected facet of Kant’s philosophy, that influenced both the core idea and the lexical coinage of his pragmatism. Both thinkers drew attention to the consequences of cognition for human actions. Pointing at the definition of the meaning of a defined notion, however, Peirce narrows remarkably the domain of Kant’s “pragmatic horizon”. Accordingly, Kant cannot be truly considered a forerunner of Peirce’s pragmatism.
In this paper, I examine and then criticize the two main assumptions underlying Stephen Stich’s Epistemic Pragmatism and its resulting consequentialist approach to reasoning strategy assessment, that is, (1) the rejection of truth as our main epistemic goal and (2) the relativity of any assessment of reasoning strategies. According to Epistemic Pragmatism, indeed, any evaluation of reasoning strategies is to be made in terms of their conduciveness to achieving what their users intrinsically value. However, since, as I will try to show, neither Stich’s argument supporting the dismissal of truth as our main epistemic goal nor his relativistic view on reasoning strategies’ assessments are well supported, I will conclude that Epistemic Pragmatism cannot provide by itself an adequate consequentialist framework for comparatively assessing people’s reasoning strategies and their epistemic merits.