On 27 January at 10:15 Henrik Sova will defend his doctoral thesis “The Structure of a Consistent Global Pragmatism” for obtaining the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (in Philosophy).
Professor Bruno Mölder, University of Tartu
Professor Daniel Cohnitz, Utrecht University (The Netherlands)
Senior Research Fellow Juhani Yli-Vakkuri, Australian Catholic University (Australia)
Professor Max Kölbel, University of Vienna (Austria)
Pragmatism, as it is understood in the context of my dissertation, is an approach in philosophy of language that aims to provide an account of meanings of expressions in terms of how the expressions are used in a linguistic community, rather than in terms of how they represent the mind- and language-independent world. Global pragmatism seeks to extend, or globalize, this non-representational stance to all discourses. This amounts to a rejection of the representationalist conviction that there are at least some expressions in some discourses that refer to some aspect of a metaphysically objective external reality. This kind of approach has been advanced by pragmatist thinkers like Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Rorty, Wilfrid Sellars, Robert Brandom and Huw Price.
The central aim of this dissertation is to put forth a logically consistent structure of how pragmatist can be global non-representationalist. I suggest the following approach. First, global pragmatists should adopt a two-fold conception of truth (representational and non-representational truth) as well as a bifurcation of other semantic notions. And second, global pragmatists should regard the discourse about semantics itself as apt for merely non-representational treatment. Non-representational meta-semantics stipulates that the talk about how sentences represent some extralinguistic reality gets its meanings only due to being part of a language game. This would be a metaphysically modest position suitable for a pragmatist – the object-level representationalism gets deflated in meta-semantics.
In this way pragmatists invite us to restrain our metaphysical urges to have a one true account of how things really are. Not only do these urges lead to unnecessary metaphysical problems, but they also meddle with our reflections on how our ends change in time and thus hinder our capabilities as a community to adjust our practices accordingly.