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代写Essay- Respond to The Truth and Belief about Dinosaurs’ Existence

发布时间:2017-03-28  | 点击数:1871

How Would James Respond to The Truth and Belief about Dinosaurs’ Existence

1. Introduction

Although James once convinced that “the history of philosophy is… a certain clash of human temperaments” (William James’s Conception of Truth, p.112), he devoted his most focus on exploring the common positions shared by pragmatists and empiricists. He actually claimed that he represented the reconciliation of the two opposing schools—the “tender-minded” and the “tough-minded” (Philosophical Essays, p.113). In James’s view, the existence of dinosaurs is common sense and can be anything but “final”. It is undisputable that dinosaurs existed even before people preparing themselves with any relevant belief and their existence remained despite people remained convinced or not. This puzzling question is a fact that can be boil down to the relationship between facts—the existence of dinosaurs, and beliefs—people’s conviction on their existence. This passage therefore is to explore how James deals with the facts and beliefs on the existence of dinosaurs and critically analyzes the strengths and weaknesses.

2. Main Body

By mediating the two opposing schools, James defines pragmatism as “a method and habit of mind” (William James’s Conception of Truth, p.114) and incorporates the strengths of them, which turns out to be an illusion. Pragmatic method is entertained in various inductions and is employed to settle metaphysical disputes by tracing their practical consequences, that is, exploring the practical difference of possible propositions. For instance, James would suggest comparing the practical difference when the notion of dinosaur’s existence rather than its opposite is adopted. When the notion that dinosaurs have existed for a long period prior to human race is embraced, the fossils are expected to explain. On the contrary, if people are suspicious about the existence of dinosaurs, then the fossils are confusing. It is a less pragmatic benefit compared to people’s conviction on dinosaur’s existence. Hence, dinosaurs do exist. This approach in general satisfies scientific questions by applying the theory to evidence and facts. It, however, indicates that practical consequences constitute the criterion of truth— a notion proves true as long as “the practical consequences of its adoption are good” (William James’s Conception of Truth, p.115). And James in this sense confused the concept of “criterion” and “meaning” by regarding the practical consequences as the sole criterion.


Pragmatic theory of truth is at the core of pragmatism. As the word “practical” indicates, utility is an important criterion in judging whether a belief is truth or not. So as James says ”Ideas (which themselves are but parts of our experience) become true just in so far as they help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience” (William James’s Conception of Truth, p.116). He proposed that truth is what people say about facts that do not necessarily come under true or false. Therefore, the pragmatic theory is concentrated on people’s beliefs and excludes the realities upon which beliefs are based since these realities are plain and obvious and should be accepted before proceeding to pragmatic theory. And truth might as well be defined as “anything which it pays to believe.” Such definition reveals that people would attain more benefit in embracing the belief than rejecting it. In this case, “the truth about dinosaurs existed…” related in the direction is in fact not a truth but a reality and the truth. James holds the opinion that people’s belief on the “creation myths” and if he were interviewed, he would respond that people should consider the effects and consequences of believing in the existence of dinosaurs. When people are convinced of the belief, they would find it rather easy to explain the facts and evidences (e.g., the fossils). On the contrary, when people are suspicious about the belief, the realities are confusing and they need to fabricate other explanations, which generates less practical consequences. Such approach towards truth proves little persuasive since it is more convenient and professional to simply verify the credibility of the fossils. Moreover, it blurs the line between criterion and meaning since James proposed only beliefs about facts but not facts themselves are considered as true or false. The beliefs held are similar to the criterion and the facts are meaning. When people intend to verify truth in general sense, then mean to verify the meaning of truth (in this case, whether dinosaurs existed based on the existing evidence) instead of the credibility of the criterion (people’s beliefs in whether dinosaurs existed). The truth in strict sense consists in dinosaurs’ existence but for James, in people’s belief, which is a trap easy to fall into.

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