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Genealogical Pragmatism: How History Matters for Foucault and Dewey

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AbstractThis article offers the outlines of a historically-informed conception of critical inquiry herein named genealogical pragmatism. This conception of critical inquiry combines the genealogical emphasis on problematization featured in Michel Foucault’s work with the pragmatist emphasis on reconstruction featured in John Dewey’s work. The two forms of critical inquiry featured by these thinkers are not opposed, as is too commonly supposed. Genealogical problematization and pragmatist reconstruction fit together for reason of their mutual emphasis on the importance of history for philosophy. In so fitting together they repair crucial deficits in both traditions as they currently stand on their own (namely, genealogy’s normative deficit and pragmatism’s excessive instrumentalism). The resulting conception of critical inquiry as simultaneously problematizational and reconstructive is offered as a first step toward a crucial philosophical task we face today: articulating normativity without foundations.

Affiliations: 1: University of


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