Discussion of articles that appear in the magazine.
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John Capps argues that Senator McCarthy’s anti-Communist purges helped positivism to triumph over pragmatism in American universities in the 1950’s.
A few short quotes will serve to crystallize Dr. Capps’ 2004 commentary:Philosophy Now wrote: ↑Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:51 pm John Capps argues that Senator McCarthy’s anti-Communist purges helped positivism to triumph over pragmatism in American universities in the 1950’s.
https://philosophynow.org/issues/46/McC ... Philosophy
“American philosophy emerged from the McCarthy era focused on questions that had minimal practical or political significance.”
I had not made this connection before. I had been aware of McCarthyism’s effect on academia generally, but not of its effect more specifically on philosophy professors and on American philosophy itself.
“Philosophy of language and philosophy of science were in; metaphysics and political philosophy were out. This would suggest that there was in fact a connection between the political climate of the McCarthy era and changing philosophical methods in the United States.”
It only makes sense, in the spirit of following the path of least resistance, that philosophers’ political discourse would be dampened in the face of McCarthyism.
“The McCarthy era... teaches us to be skeptical not only of outside political pressure on philosophy but also on the countervailing pressure that philosophy be rigorously apolitical.”
Yet, for the sake of one’s livelihood, it would be beneficial to avoid those subjects that would bring about a wave of political scrutiny.
I would add, however, that I’d have preferred to see citations for specific points in the article that were offered as historical fact.