Pragmatism vs Justification

I have been following the discussion on Induction between Chris and Mitch with great interest. Even though they are about to wrap things up, I wanted to comment on part of Mitch's most recent response.

Mitch writes: It might not be a justification of induction in Bolt’s opinion, but such is the nature of pragmatism. It needs not be a justification, it simply is a warrant for its continued use. There is no error here as Reichenbach is not attempting to contest that induction is justified or unjustified in that statement, simply that we have a reason to continue to use it.

I am not quite sure what Mitch is saying here when he states on the one hand that "it needs not be a justification" and on the other hand states that "it simply is a warrant for its continued use." Perhaps Mitch means something less formal by use of the word "warrant" than I am used to in discussions of this nature.

It seems to me that the statement "it needs not be a justification" implies no justification is present. Therefore, perhaps the word "warrant" simply means "reason" in the weaker sense, as in something that provides a motivation, rather than a logical basis. If Mitch means something more formal by the term, then I don't find consistency with the implication that no justification is present.

Now, if Mitch means "warrant" as a motivation, then it seems to follow that it is entirely reasonable to hold a particular position on the basis of pragmatism alone (i.e. without the need for a logical justification). If this is truly the case, then I wonder how Mitch would respond to those who might claim to hold the position that the Christian God exists as a pragmatic belief? Is there "warrant" for believing in God if it allows the believer to accomplish a particular goal? Does the believer "have a reason to continue" their belief, if it gives them the ability to meet a particular end? At what point is it acceptable to give up the search for justification and appeal to pragmatism?



Mitch LeBlanc said...

Hey Brian,

I will just comment here quickly before I am off to school.

You are correct in your analysis of the use of the term "warrant". I do mean it in a weaker sense.

As for the justification of the Christian God pragmatically, I absolutely accept the powerful influences that religion can have on people's lives and if their religion will help them reach a goal that they may not have reached otherwise than I see no problem in holding that belief. Unless of course this goal caused greater harm than good.

At any rate, I can understand the motivations of religious belief for many and I don't think that religious people are "stupid" or "non-freethinking" by any means. There are exceptions to that rule with the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church, but I see no reason why the Christian cannot hold their beliefs on a pragmatic basis. However, this should not be confused for their beliefs being true. (While I will concede pragmatism in some areas, I don't think I am a subjectivist)

Hope that answers your question!

C.L. Bolt said...

So you are like a Randian Objectivist Popperian pragmatist? Are you sure you are not just an undergraduate philosophy student? ;) :)

Mitch LeBlanc said...

I am not a Randian Objectivist like my friend Dawson, I adopted that position for my discussion with RK. Razor is aware of this also.

I also disagree with the subjectivist pragmatist leanings. Just because I think that people should believe what they want if it helps them in their lives does not mean I accept it as being some type of truth. =)