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Pragmatism and transactional realism

Pierluigi Barrotta


Following the philosophy of John Dewey, language is a form of technology. In this essay I will illustrate this idea through what can be called “transactional realism”: scientists do not perform the task of “copying” an existing reality, since they also transform it, and this, at least in some cases, brings about value issues into the language of science. I believe that transactional realism has significant consequences in the way public interests and values enter the subject-matter and procedures of scientific inquiry. Along with the rejection of the ideal of value-free science, transactional realism leads scientists to significantly change the perception of their work. Public interests and social values do not concern scientists only when the policy maker requests their assistance as experts, since they enter the very same ontology of science. This, as we will see, without foregoing realism.


language as technology; realism; fact/value dualism; pragmatic maxim; biodiversity

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