John Dewey Versus Bertrand Russell, and Science Versus Science

So, I took a course on the debate between John Dewey and Bertrand Russell, and my final essay is now a page, like the final essays for my other courses.

One thing that struck me while taking this course is how similar the views of scientists commenting on theology and philosophy were to Dewey’s, and how much, thus, their ideas of how to go about gaining knowledge were to those of the pragmatists. I’d suggest that those people — and if they don’t know who they are, I’ll tell them — read up on the pragmatist view and the old objections to it. It may turn out that they can’t accept some of the things the pragmatist view would advocate.

The most interesting thing to note, though, is that both Russell and Dewey were trying to naturalize philosophy, and yet where Dewey was unapologetically experimental Russell was far more willing to work from the armchair. What it means, then, to be a naturalist or follow a naturalistic methodology isn’t clear, and doesn’t have to be a strictly experimental approach. And the debate between the two certainly made it clear that we should be careful not to presume that it’s obvious what doing things scientifically really means.

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