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Collins, Patricia Hill, , . Social Inequality, Power, and Politics: Intersectionality and American Pragmatism in Dialogue
2012, Journal of Speculative Philosophy 26 (2):442-457.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Corbin Covington

Introduction: June Jordan (1992) had her eye set on an understanding of freedom that challenged social inequality as being neither natural, normal, nor inevitable. Instead, she believed that power relations of racism, class exploitation, sexism, and heterosexism were socially constructed outcomes of human agency and, as such, were amenable to change. For Jordan, the path toward a reenvisioned world where ‘freedom is indivisible’ reflected aspirational political projects of the civil rights and Black Power movements, feminism, the antiwar movement, and the movement for gay and lesbian liberation. These social justice projects required a messy politics of taking the risks that enabled their participants to dream big dreams.

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Glaude, Eddie S., , . In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America
2007, University of Chicago Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Bart Schultz

Publisher’s Note: In this timely book, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., one of our nation’s rising young African American intellectuals, makes an impassioned plea for black America to address its social problems by recourse to experience and with an eye set on the promise and potential of the future, rather than the fixed ideas and categories of the past. Central to Glaude’s mission is a rehabilitation of philosopher John Dewey, whose ideas, he argues, can be fruitfully applied to a renewal of African American politics. According to Glaude, Dewey’s pragmatism, when attentive to the darker dimensions of life – or what we often speak of as the blues – can address many of the conceptual problems that plague contemporary African American discourse. How blacks think about themselves, how they imagine their own history, and how they conceive of their own actions can be rendered in ways that escape bad ways of thinking that assume a tendentious political unity among African Americans simply because they are black, or that short-circuit imaginative responses to problems confronting actual black people. Drawing deeply on black religious thought and literature, In a Shade of Blue seeks to dislodge such crude and simplistic thinking, and replace it with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for black life in all its variety and intricacy. Only when black political leaders acknowledge such complexity, Glaude argues, can the real-life sufferings of many African Americans be remedied. Heady, inspirational, and brimming with practical wisdom, In a Shade of Blue is a remarkable work of political commentary on a scale rarely seen today. To follow its trajectory is to learn how African Americans arrived at this critical moment in their history and to envision where they might head in the twenty-first century

Comment: A really terrific, historically sophisticated work that highlights how philosophical pragmatism can be developed in connection with critical race theory.

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Harris, Leonard (ed.), , . The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke a Reader on Value Theory, Aesthetics, Community, Culture, Race, and Education
1999, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Lydia Patton

Publisher’s Note: In its comprehensive overview of Alain Locke’s pragmatist philosophy this book captures the radical implications of Locke’s approach within pragmatism, the critical temper embedded in Locke’s works, the central role of power and empowerment of the oppressed and the concept of broad democracy Locke employed

Comment: Alain Locke (1885-1954) founded the philosophy department at Howard University. (The department is still housed in Locke hall, named for Alain, not John!) He was a pragmatist philosopher, who wrote on cultural relativism, pragmatism, and values. He is best known for his role as an aesthetic scholar of the Harlem Renaissance, but this work has deep connections to his work on the theory of race, on value theory and cultural relativism, and on pragmatism. (See the introductions to the anthologies above for more details.) Locke is an under-appreciated scholar of historical and philosophical significance. His work would provide excellent readings for courses in value theory, ethics and meta-ethics, aesthetics, pragmatism, and the philosophy of race, but would also be interesting reading for courses in epistemology, for instance, given his original stance on relativism, and his pragmatism about truth.

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Lovibond, Sabina, , . Feminism and pragmatism: a reply to Richard Rorty
2010, In Marianne Janack (ed.), Feminist Interpretations of Richard Rorty. Pennsylvania State University Press.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Abstract: This essay responds to a (1991) Tanner Lecture by Rorty in which he criticizes ‘universalist-realist’ views in ethics, as exemplified by the work of Lovibond up to ‘Feminism and Postmodernism’ (where he is discussed, along with Alasdair MacIntyre and Jean-Francois Lyotard, as a specimen postmodern thinker), and promotes his pragmatist philosophy as a congenial intellectual basis for feminism. The essay questions the claims of pragmatism in this respect, and reflects more generally on issues of realism, essentialism, conceptual innovation, and legitimation. It argues that to acknowledge the historically situated character of human existence is not to give up on the idea of an ethically orientated politics. Likewise, it suggests that the risk of flawed or irresponsible generality in political discourse is not all located on the side of realism. Finally, some consideration is given to the notion of gendered identity as a basis for feminist consciousness.

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Misak, Cheryl, , . Pragmatism and Deflationism
2007, in New Pragmatists, ed. C.Misak. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: A contemporary defense of a pragmatist account of truth, which contrasts the view with various versions of deflationism. Misak defends the claim that to grasp the concept of truth by exploring its connections with practices we engage in – including assertion, believing, reason-giving, and inquiry. The pragmatist conception of truth, it is argued, helps to elucidate realism/anti-realism: inquiry is truth-apt when it aims at establishing propositions that are indefeasible.

Comment: A clear and contemporary reading on pragmatist appraoches to truth in a course on theories of truth. Useful for both advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

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Misak, Cheryl, , . The American Pragmatists (The Oxford History of Philosophy)
2013, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Cheryl Misak presents a history of the great American philosophical tradition of pragmatism, from its inception in the Metaphysical Club of the 1870s to the present day. She identifies two dominant lines of thought in the tradition: the first begins with Charles S. Peirce and Chauncey Wright and continues through to Lewis, Quine, and Sellars; the other begins with William James and continues through to Dewey and Rorty. This ambitious new account identifies the connections between traditional American pragmatism and twentieth-century Anglo-American philosophy, and links pragmatism to major positions in the recent history of philosophy, such as logical empiricism. Misak argues that the most defensible version of pragmatism must be seen and recovered as an important part of the analytic tradition.

Comment: A good primary reading for courses on pragmatism or the history of American philosophy. Useful for both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

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Thalos, Mariam, , . Truth deserves to be believed
2013, Philosophy 88(2): 179-196.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: Science seems generally to aim at truth. And governmental support of science is often premised on the instrumental value of truth in service of advancing our practical objectives, both as individuals and as communities, large and small. While there is some political expediency to this view, it is not correct. The value of truth is nowise that it helps us achieve our aims. In fact, just the contrary: truth deserves to be believed only on the condition that its claim upon us is orthogonal to any utility it might have in the service of (any and all) practical ends

Comment: A good anti-pragmatist argument, useful in an exploration of the aims of science, or a good introduction to truth and objectivity in science as an illustration of the reason that might matter. Suitable for both undergraduate and graduate teaching.

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