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Chapter 4

chapter 4.docx

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St. Michael's College Courses
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Michael Petit

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Pragmatic Analysis – Week 4  Pragmatism is 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 with useful results in the process of solving problems.  Metaphysical truths by their nature cannot actually be fully known.  Truth is transcendent, constant, a universal one  Truth is “out there” waiting to be discovered  Truth becomes a sort of label, a quality that a thing can possess or lack, and it is always dependent on background factors.  Truth is local, contingent, contextual, historical and therefore we need to: problem solve, assess outcomes/effects, measure and produce tangible results/benefits and examine and rationalize consequences  Everyday practical affairs: what works, what doesn’t work Pragmatists: William James (1842-1910)  Focus on the individual; pragmatism as a means of personal growth to achieve one’s goals and solve individual problems  Radical empiricism – "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. John Dewey (1859-1952)  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.  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. Richard Rorty (1931-2007)  Important figure in overcoming on of the key criticisms against Pragmatism: relativism.  Relativism – the belief that diverse approaches and theories related to a given subject are all equally correct.  Rorty drew an important line between relativism in the metaphysical sense and possibilities as they apply to the real world.  Pragmatists are relativistic when it comes to metaphysical theories in the sense that all searches for essential truth are equally valid because none of them makes any real difference.  When it comes to lived experiences, pragmatists entertain options only to the point that they can be discussed, tested and selected in the process of problem solving. A Pragmatic Approach to the Government Regulation of Media:  Consequences refer to the clear effects of a given regulation on society at large. Consequences must be beneficial to society if we are to deem the regulation a good one.  Contingencies are the socio-cultural/historical factors at play during the creation of a regulation. The social norms of any given moment, as well as predominant mediums or types of technology present all form a group of contingent factors.  It is important to understand that when factors are both a regular and contingent, they are regular in their presence but contingent upon one another at any given time.  The first set of regular contingencies is the tension between free speech and public interest.  The second set of regular contingencies is the interplay between government regulation and media self-regulation Issues in the Regulation of American Media: Combatting monopoly:  Regulations designed to prevent media monopolies have focused historically on limiting the amount of a given market that any one company can own.  Regulations in this tradition often work toward the practical goal of ensuring that healthy competition remains a vital part of the American media landscape.  Historical example of anti-monopoly regulation is the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules (so ABC, NBC and CBS didn’t have too much power). Syndication refers to the process of producing and selling programming.  The Telecommunications Act of 1996 shifted the regulations on ownership patterns in broadcast, telephone and cable industries. An owner is restricted to no
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