chapter  7
16 Pages

Imprecision and Indeterminacy's Contribution to a Pragmatist Reconstruction of Philosophy

WithJoseph Margolis

Joseph Margolis discusses imprecision and indeterminacy as pragmatist contributions – and challenges – to the reconstruction of philosophy. He deals with what might be called the “indeterminacy principle” of pragmatism. Margolis takes his start from Dewey's very influential 1920 book Reconstruction in Philosophy that, as Dewey later implied in the new Introduction written in 1948, is rather a reconstruction of philosophy. Margolis thoroughly explores, assesses, and compares pragmatist and constructivist as opposed to rationalist, transcendentalist, essentialist, naturalistic, etc., claims to knowledge and reality. He observes that one crucial strength of pragmatism lies in its theory of knowledge which is inevitably informal, outspoken about unavoidable indeterminacies, committed to an acknowledgment of the limits of precision, and aware of the impossibility of achieving conceptual closure.