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Chapter 4

MDSA01 - Chapter 4: Pragmatic Analysis (p72-96)

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Media Studies
Ted Petit

MDSA01 Chapter 4: Pragmatic Analysis (p72-96) Some countries, the media is state-owned, -controlled, and run: a sort of propagandistic arm of the govt In most democratic societies, the media is relatively independent of the govnt, often performing the function of the Fourth Estate w/o govnt-imposed copyright laws, the film industry would be severely hurt (financially) by movie piracy Pragmatism: An Overview Pragmatism- the branch of philosophy that assesses truth in terms of effect, outcome and practicality pragmatists claim that truth depends on the degree to which a concept or theory provides us w/ useful results in the process of solving problems the truth of an idea or course of action should be based on tangible results and the possible consequences of supporting or disregarding it philosopher Charles Saunders Peirce coined the term in the late 19 c ~ h/w other key thinkers played more important roles in developing this form of philosophy William James Harvard prof, one of the most important early Pragmatic philosophers He founded the American school of Pragmatism by popularizing Peirces own obscure work on the subject He was the first to stress the practical application of philosophy to ones life There was a focus of consequences of individual beliefs He believed that people could mature and grow by addressing personal problems through Pragmatic lens, and he stressed a flexible moderation bw extremes as the best way to achieve this goal He was preoccupied w/ the state of his and other souls, not the social conditions of their lives The pragmatic focus on larger social issues is primarily the result of the work by JOHN DEWEY John Dewey th More popularly known as a great pillar in American educational theory of the 20 c. He situated the process of knowing and learning within the field of human activity and experience He asserted that thought is the direct result of physical beings encountering difficulties in their daily lives and attempting to generate ways of overcoming those difficulties We learn from past experiences in order to manage future ones He believed that the metaphysical focus of philosophy inappropriately divorced human though from its roots in practical concerns He mirrored James in his claims that philosophy should return to its original function as a tool in correcting problems He importantly expanded the focus of Pragmatic thought from individual problems to larger social issues through his work on progressive education Educational systems at the time concentrated on memorizing facts and processes Dewey found this troubling He claimed that educators should instead focus on training students to develop a variety of problem solving skills to make them more productive and responsible citizens These thoughts were instrumental in connected individual evolution to social improvements Richard Rorty He began in the 60s as a scholar of analytic philosophy as a branch of thought related to pragmatism that roughly aligns philosophical work w/ the empiricism of the hard sciences He spent much of his career defending pragmatism as a distinct philosophy and diffusing some of the perspectives perceived weaknesses He riled against the uselessness of metaphysical philosophy bc he found it impossible and sterile He was also an important figure in overcoming one of the key criticisms leveled against pragmatism: relativism o Relativism is the belief that diverse approaches and theories related to a given subject are all equally correct o Bc pragmatism abandons the search for underlying truths on a topic, critics often see it as a relativist approach that cannot practically address the problems it purports to solve He drew an important distinction bw relativism in the metaphysical sense and possibilities as they apply to the real world o Pragmatists are relativistic when it comes
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