Philosophy Videos

How To Be A Pragmatist

Pragmatism is often loosely characterized as the view that people should adopt "whatever works." This seems like empty and useless advice, since it omits any substantive criterion of what works.
This lecture will explain what this advice really means, why we ought to follow it, and how we can follow it. The key to pragmatism lies in its method, which deeply integrates moral with empirical inquiry. Pragmatism offers two ways to intelligently update our moral beliefs: bias correction, and experiments in living. Anderson will illustrate how these methods work and why they make sense.

Elizabeth Anderson is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of Value in Ethics and Economics (Harvard UP, 1993), The Imperative of Integration (Princeton UP, 2010), and numerous, widely reprinted articles in journals of philosophy, law, and economics. She has written extensively on egalitarianism, democratic theory, the interaction of facts and values in social science, social epistemology, and pragmatism. She has also written on affirmative action and racial integration, antidiscrimination law, and the ethical limitations of the market. She is currently working on the history of egalitarianism, and on pragmatism in ethics.