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Pragmatism and the Analytic-Continental Split

This conference at the University of Sheffield starts tomorrow, and runs until Friday.

A common story told about academic philosophy in the 20th and 21st centuries is that is divided into two opposed camps, usually called ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophy. This conference proposes to assess a third, and often overlooked, philosophical tradition, ‘pragmatism’, in the light of this division. In pragmatism, we hope to discover novel approaches to the issues that divide the analytic and continental traditions.

Typically, analytic and continental philosophies are differentiated according to origins, methodologies, styles, and concerns. Analytic philosophy emerged in the early 20th century with British thinkers such as Bertrand Russell and G. E. Moore. It was presented as a split from a broader philosophical tradition which included Kant and Hegel, and was labelled ‘continental’ with the inclusion of figures such as Husserl, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger…

This conference asks how pragmatism might allow the analytic and the continental traditions of philosophy to engage in new and useful ways. Perhaps relating pragmatism to analytic and continental philosophy can provide new suggestions regarding the methodologies, styles, roles, and topics that we think should govern philosophy. Perhaps attention to the links which classical pragmatism has to both sides might further dissolve the divide. Perhaps, as some pragmatists have hoped, pragmatism sits at the end of the development of both continental and analytic philosophy. Or perhaps a rejection of pragmatism by both traditions might forge new links between them.

The conference website is here.

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Force of Habit

LSE runs a public philosophy website called The Forum. It’s well worth a look, as it lists a number of interesting podcasts, events, and so on. The website includes The Blog, to which I was kindly invited to contribute recently. I wrote something on habit, which was loosely based on my paper “Habit and Attention”:

I wake up one Saturday morning, look at the sunshine, and decide to go for a picnic. I call my friend Ernie who agrees to meet me at the picnic spot, pack some sandwiches, and set off on my bicycle. As I go to meet Ernie, I start daydreaming, and instead of cycling straight ahead to the picnic spot, I turn off left along my habitual route to work. I quickly realize my mistake, and with some annoyance, I turn back and carry on towards the picnic spot. How should we understand my action?

An influential picture defines actions as being the product of the agent’s intentions. But it’s not clear that this explains what I do in the example above. I do not intend to cycle to work. I intend to meet Ernie at the picnic spot. Sometimes, of course, we change our minds. I might intend to go swimming, but then decide that I had better tidy the house instead. But this is not what happens in the above case. I don’t change my mind about where to go—I always intend to meet Ernie at the picnic spot.

You can read the complete piece here.

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BPA/SWIP UK Mentoring Scheme

The British Philosophical Association, and the Society for Women in Philosophy (UK) are running a mentoring scheme for women in Philosophy. The scheme is open to all women from first-year PhD level onwards who are students of philosophy or employed on a teaching and/or research contract (including fractional contracts) in a UK or Irish university. It is also open to women philosophers who are between jobs or who have completed their PhD and do not currently have – but are aiming to secure – academic employment. There’s more information on the SWIP website

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