Barnes-Holmes 2000

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APA Citation: 

Barnes-Holmes, D. (2000). Behavioral pragmatism: No place for reality and truth. The Behavior Analyst, 23, 191-202.

Publication Topic: 
Publication Type: 
pragmatism, contextualism, truth, realism, behavioral

This article begins with a summary of L. J. Hayes' argument that upon close scrutiny pragmatists are in fact very concerned with the nature of reality. Subsequently, W. V. Quine's concept of the observation sentence is examined. This 'mainstream' pragmatist concept is then used to evaluate the accuracy of Hayes's claim that pragmatists are concerned with the nature of reality, and as a result the accuracy of the claim is found to be somewhat ambiguous. Quine's concept of the observation sentence, however, also appears to raise a problem. In the 2nd half of the article, a behavior analytic version of pragmatism is offered that aims to address both the claim made by Hayes (vis-a-vis pragmatism's concern with reality) and the problem raised by Quine's concept of the observation sentence. The author concludes that in defining truth behaviorally, the behavioral pragmatist always appeals to utility, and never correspondence, as a truth criterion.

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