Lucia Guerra-Menendez and Stanley Jaki: "Pragmatism Then and Now"
As a formalized philosophy, pragmatism gained academic status almost exactly a hundred years ago with the publication of Pragmatism by William James (1842-1910). He proposed that the criterion of truth should be a compromise between the objectively given and personally desired. Partly because William James failed to do justice to the objectively given, his basic contention has gained ever wider acceptance in the academic world as well as in the societal arena, where truth is often measured by opinion polls. Unforeseen by William James, the compromise advocated by him kept shifting from a balance between the objectively given and the personally desired toward the radical preponderance of subjective preferences. William James would have been much taken aback by certain forms of this development, shocking examples of which will be provided by the joint author Lucia Guerra Menendez, from the realm of bioethics and especially from bioethical legislations on both sides of the Atlantic. Revolting forms of the “personally desired” are now given full legal protection by a heedless invocation of the privacy clause.
15 July 2008