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Lecture 4

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Michael Petit

MDSA01 – Lecture 4 Prof’s Speech - Purple Slide 1 – Reality vs. Media Reality - Tend to become blurred - The onion – provides satirical news, but some people believe that it is real news Slide 4 – What should we do about it? - Pragmatic solution – the onion should post a disclaimer with their articles so that people know their news is not real Slide 5 – Pragmatic Analysis Slide 6 - 1. Metaphysics o Study of being and existence(ontology) and the world (cosmology) o Ontology - can be thought of as the very basis of life, what does it mean to be - What is the meaning of life? - What does it mean to be? Slide 7 – Metaphysics - Truth is transcendent, constant, a universal one - Truth is “out there” waiting to be discovered - Truth can never be fully known - Longstanding debates: o Mind/body  Philosophers and world scientists have been debating o Free will/determinism  When you are going to reach for something, in the brain – the brain process is already occurring before the person is about to reach, is there really free will? o These are not pragmatic questions Slide 10 - 2. Pragmatism o Instead of ethereal concepts of being and time, focus on everyday practical affairs: what works, what doesn’t work – and why – so that improvements can be made o “The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite different it will make to you and me at definite instants of our lives, if this world formula or that world formula be the true one  William James o Truth can be debated forever (metaphysics) o Truth is local, contingent, contextual, historical, and therefore we need to; situated in time, place, and within cultures – what seems to be truth to one group of people, seems to be crazy to another group :  Problem solve  Assess outcomes/effect  Measure and produce tangible results and benefits  Examine and rationalize consequences Slide 17 - The debate at Occupy Wall Street: to what end? o Did not have a pragmatic answer – which is why it failed Slide 19 – Three Key Pragmatists - 1. William James (1842-1910) o a. Focus on the individual; pragmatism as a means of personal growth to achieve one’s goals and solve individual problems  “be pragmatic about your futures”, if you are going to achieve goals, how are you going to get there practically o b. Radical empiricism – James’ postulate that "the only things that shall be debatable among philosophers shall be things definable in terms drawn from experience“; experience includes both particulars and relations between those particulars, and that therefore both deserve a place in our explanations.  Based on experiences  But there are a lot of things we do not directly experience  - 2. John Dewey (1859-1952) o a. Focus on society and larger social issues. As an educational reformer, he argued against rote memorization and for the development of problem-solving skills in order to make individuals more productive and responsible citizens.  U of T’s mission statement is reformed by Dewey o b. Pragmatic Meliorism – meliorism is belief that the world can be made better, not through metaphysics, but through dedication to developing material, real-world solutions to improve human life in the world. - 3. Richard Rorty (1931-2007) o Relativism – the belief that diverse approaches and theories related to a given subject are all equally correct.  There is no truth out there; it is all relative; all culturally-determined o Pragmatists agree that all searches for essential Truth equally fail because none of them makes any real difference. o However, pragmatists restrict relativism to what can be discussed, tested, and selected in the process of problem solving. To effectively do so, one must be aware of one’s social situation and one’s placement in history Slide 22 – Media Regulation: A Pragmatic Paradigm - 1. Consequences – The clear effects of a given regulation on a society at large - 2. Contingencies – The socio-cultural/historical factors at play during the creation of a regulation - 3. Tensions o a. “Public Interest” (favours regulation) vs. “Free Market” (favours deregulation) - when companies want less regulation than they already have o b. Government regulation vs. media self-regulation  gov-reg – if we move towards this, we will have a totalitarian society where we need approval for everything we want to write Slide 23 – Pragmatic Analysis Case Study: Borat - CNN was being pai
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