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Pragmatist Approach to Truth

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To understand what the pragmatist's approach to truth you would be, you must first understand what a pragmatist believes. Pragmatism is derived from the word pragmatic, meaning "dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical." Therefore a pragmatist is said to believe that the truth of a proposition is measured by its association with experimental results and by its practical outcome. Thought is considered as simply an instrument for supporting the life intentions of the human being and has no real metaphysical (abstract) significance. Pragmatism stands opposed to principals that hold that truth can be reached through deductive reasoning from a principal grounds and insists on the need for inductive investigation and constant pragmatic verification of hypotheses. There is constant protest against speculation concerning questions that have no application and no verifiable answers. Pragmatism holds that truth is modified as discoveries are made and is relative to the time and place and purpose of inquiry. For example, at one time the world was thought to be flat. This was said to be true and thus everyone believed it. Only after explorers discovered that the Earth was really round, did the truth change. Truth changes via new discoveries. In its ethical aspect pragmatism holds that knowledge that contributes to human values is real and that values play as essential a role in the choice of means employed in order to attain an end as they do in the choice of the end itself.

The world is full of ideas or realities and these ideas are said to be infinitely helpful or infinitely harmful. Having knowledge of truth is only the initial means toward other worldly application. The book gives the example about being lost in the woods and starving. You notice a cow-path and assume that there should be human life at the end of the path. If you follow the path you eat thus your life is saved. The true thought of the house is useful because the object, the house, is useful. Therefore the practical value of true ideas is first and foremost derived from the practical importance of the objects to us. On another instance, the house may not be important therefore the idea, however verifiable, is of no relevance. This is referred to as "extra truths," ideas that shall be true of merely possible situations. When an "extra truth" is deemed relevant for a given situation, it goes from being an a dormant state to an active one. You can say that "it is useful because it is true" or that "it is true because it is useful. Truth would never have been given a name suggesting value unless the world



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