Re-Expressing Normative Pragmatism

In Collective Intentionality VI, Berkeley (2009)
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The central claim of normative pragmatism is that intentional states can be explained in terms of participation in practices. My aim in this paper is not so much to defend this claim as to rearticulate it in a different medium: the medium of computation. I describe two computer programs in which this claim is re-expressed. The first is the latest version of THE SIMS, in which participation in practices enables the Sims to do and understand more. The second is a prototype simulation of philosophical debate. In this second program, normative pragmatism is expressed at two different levels: once as the theory powering the implementation, and once as a set of claims which are debated by the simulated philosophers. Here, a philosophical theory is used to implement a system in which that very same theory is articulated, challenged, and justified.

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Richard Evans
Cambridge University


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