Hatfield on American Critical Realism

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Abstract
The turn of the last century saw an explosion of philosophical realisms, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. Gary Hatfield helpfully asks whether we can impose order on this chaotic scene by portraying these diverse actors as responding to a common philosophical problem—the so-called problem of the external world, as articulated by William Hamilton. I argue that we should not place the American realism that grows out of James’s neutral monism in this problem space. James first articulated his position in response to critical attacks on the methodology he had employed in his psychological research. The direct topic of these criticisms was James’s earlier claim that a scientific psychology must treat knowledge as an inexplicable theoretical primitive. If I am right, then we ought to hesitate about Hatfield’s suggestion that American realism operated inside the same problem space as the early realism of British figures like Russell and Moore. James’s neutral monism first emerged as a conception of knowledge by a psychologist, and it was designed to meet concerns about his scientific research that had been raised by other psychologists.
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Essays in Radical Empiricism.Bode, B. H.; James, William & Perry, R. B.

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2015-09-04

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