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Whither Pragmatism in Knowledge Organization? Classical pragmatism vs. Neopragmatism as KO Metatheories Thomas M. Dousa GSLIS, University of Illinois,

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Presentation on theme: "Whither Pragmatism in Knowledge Organization? Classical pragmatism vs. Neopragmatism as KO Metatheories Thomas M. Dousa GSLIS, University of Illinois,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Whither Pragmatism in Knowledge Organization? Classical pragmatism vs. Neopragmatism as KO Metatheories Thomas M. Dousa GSLIS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ISKO 2010 Rome, Italy Thomas M. Dousa GSLIS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ISKO 2010 Rome, Italy

2 Pragmatism as a philosophical position: Some basic Tenets Core Epistemological premise: The meaning of a concept or the truth of a pro- position is to be evaluated by considering the experiential or practical consequences of its application (Haack 2003, 774). Other basic features (cf. Jacob 2000): * Fallibilism * Contingency * Social Embeddedness * Pluralism Core Epistemological premise: The meaning of a concept or the truth of a pro- position is to be evaluated by considering the experiential or practical consequences of its application (Haack 2003, 774). Other basic features (cf. Jacob 2000): * Fallibilism * Contingency * Social Embeddedness * Pluralism

3 Classical Pragmatism and Neopragmatism Classical Pragmatism (hereafter, CP): -- Primary Exponents: * Charles Sanders Peirce ( ) * William James ( ) * John Dewey ( ) Neopragmatism (hereafter, NP): -- Primary Exponent: *Richard Rorty ( ) Classical Pragmatism (hereafter, CP): -- Primary Exponents: * Charles Sanders Peirce ( ) * William James ( ) * John Dewey ( ) Neopragmatism (hereafter, NP): -- Primary Exponent: *Richard Rorty ( )

4 CP and NP as KO metatheories: Key questions How does NP differ from CP? Are the difference sufficient to make a metatheoretical difference for KO? If so, is NP an advance over CP as a philo- sophical resource for KO? How does NP differ from CP? Are the difference sufficient to make a metatheoretical difference for KO? If so, is NP an advance over CP as a philo- sophical resource for KO?

5 CP and NP: Differences According to Rorty (1999, 35 & 95), there are two primary differences between CP and NP: (1) CPs epistemic point of departure = Experience NPs epistemic point of departure = Language (2) CP: scientific method is a privileged form of inquiry. NP: There is no privileged form of inquiry. According to Rorty (1999, 35 & 95), there are two primary differences between CP and NP: (1) CPs epistemic point of departure = Experience NPs epistemic point of departure = Language (2) CP: scientific method is a privileged form of inquiry. NP: There is no privileged form of inquiry.

6 CP vs. NP: Epistemic point of Departure for inquiry (I) CP: -- Inquiry based on experience * Purposeful interaction with the world involving pushes and pulls as human beings encounter, perceive, analyze, manipulate, and test objects and ideas to solve the problem to which inquiry is addressed. * Experience and inference therefrom pro- vide epistemological warrant. CP: -- Inquiry based on experience * Purposeful interaction with the world involving pushes and pulls as human beings encounter, perceive, analyze, manipulate, and test objects and ideas to solve the problem to which inquiry is addressed. * Experience and inference therefrom pro- vide epistemological warrant.

7 CP vs. NP: Epistemic point of Departure for inquiry (II) NP: Inquiry based on language: * No prelinguistic referent by means of which one can justify ones conceptual- ization and belief. * Epistemological warrant reposes en- tirely on intersubjective agreement. NP: Inquiry based on language: * No prelinguistic referent by means of which one can justify ones conceptual- ization and belief. * Epistemological warrant reposes en- tirely on intersubjective agreement.

8 CP vs. NP: Method of Inquiry (I) CP: * Privileged method is method of science or experimental method. * This method involves: hypothesis formation, manipulation of objects, observation of responses, deduction from observation, and submission of results to ones peers. * Experimental method applicable, mutatis mutandis, to all inquiries. CP: * Privileged method is method of science or experimental method. * This method involves: hypothesis formation, manipulation of objects, observation of responses, deduction from observation, and submission of results to ones peers. * Experimental method applicable, mutatis mutandis, to all inquiries.

9 CP vs. NP: Method of Inquiry (II) NP: * views inquiry not as a form of experimental method but as a form of conversation. * Emphasizes ethical norms of conversation- al reasonableness over epistemic norms. * holds that we should discard the metaphor of inquiry, and human society generally, as converging, rather than proliferating, be- coming more unified rather than more diverse (Rorty 1987, 45). NP: * views inquiry not as a form of experimental method but as a form of conversation. * Emphasizes ethical norms of conversation- al reasonableness over epistemic norms. * holds that we should discard the metaphor of inquiry, and human society generally, as converging, rather than proliferating, be- coming more unified rather than more diverse (Rorty 1987, 45).

10 Metatheoretical Consequences of CP and NP (I) Do the metatheoretical differences between CP and NP make a practical difference for KO (meta)theory? With respect to KO design, … NO With respect to KO research methodology … NO Do the metatheoretical differences between CP and NP make a practical difference for KO (meta)theory? With respect to KO design, … NO With respect to KO research methodology … NO

11 Metatheoretical Consequences of CP and NP (II) There are cases where the differences between CP and NP do have metatheoretical consequences … e.g., CP, but not NP, accommodates Hjørlands (1997) views that * scientific classifications should be based on the pure inquiry, which constitutes the pursuit of truth for its own sake (p. 83). * pragmatic realism (pp. 81–82) is based on contribu- tions from both the inquirer and the external world. … but may not have any practical import for the resultant theory of KO design. There are cases where the differences between CP and NP do have metatheoretical consequences … e.g., CP, but not NP, accommodates Hjørlands (1997) views that * scientific classifications should be based on the pure inquiry, which constitutes the pursuit of truth for its own sake (p. 83). * pragmatic realism (pp. 81–82) is based on contribu- tions from both the inquirer and the external world. … but may not have any practical import for the resultant theory of KO design.

12 Metatheoretical Consequences of CP and NP (III) The theoretical differences between CP and NP may have consequences for KOs self-concept- ualization as a field. * CPs call for a general method of inquiry is likely to lead to an integrative vision of KO. * NPs repudiation of any general method of inquiry is likely to lead to a fragmented vision of KO. In this respect, CP may prove a more useful metatheoretical option than NP. The theoretical differences between CP and NP may have consequences for KOs self-concept- ualization as a field. * CPs call for a general method of inquiry is likely to lead to an integrative vision of KO. * NPs repudiation of any general method of inquiry is likely to lead to a fragmented vision of KO. In this respect, CP may prove a more useful metatheoretical option than NP.

13 References Haack, S. (2003). Pragmatism, in N. Bunnin & E. P. Tsui-James (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy (2nd. Ed.; pp ). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Hjørland, B. (1997). Information seeking and subject represent ation: an activity-theoretical approach to information science. Westport: Greenwood Press, CT. Jacob, E. (2000). The legacy of pragmatism: implications for knowledge organization in a pluralistic universe. In C. Beghtol, L.C. Howarth, & N.J. Williamson (eds.), Dynamism and stability in knowledge organization: Proceedings of the Sixth International ISKO Conference, Toronto, Canada,10–13 July 2000 (pp. 16–22). Würzburg: Ergon. Rorty, R. (1987). Science as solidarity. In J.S. Nelson, A. Megill, & D.N. McCloskey (eds.), The rhetoric of the human sciences: language and argument in scholarship and public affairs (pp. 3852). Madison,WI: University of Wisconsin Press. Haack, S. (2003). Pragmatism, in N. Bunnin & E. P. Tsui-James (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Philosophy (2nd. Ed.; pp ). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Hjørland, B. (1997). Information seeking and subject represent ation: an activity-theoretical approach to information science. Westport: Greenwood Press, CT. Jacob, E. (2000). The legacy of pragmatism: implications for knowledge organization in a pluralistic universe. In C. Beghtol, L.C. Howarth, & N.J. Williamson (eds.), Dynamism and stability in knowledge organization: Proceedings of the Sixth International ISKO Conference, Toronto, Canada,10–13 July 2000 (pp. 16–22). Würzburg: Ergon. Rorty, R. (1987). Science as solidarity. In J.S. Nelson, A. Megill, & D.N. McCloskey (eds.), The rhetoric of the human sciences: language and argument in scholarship and public affairs (pp. 3852). Madison,WI: University of Wisconsin Press.

14 References Rorty, R. (1999). Philosophy and social hope. London/New York: Penguin Books. Rorty, R. (1999). Philosophy and social hope. London/New York: Penguin Books.


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