F. Thomas Burke, College of Arts and Sciences
F. Thomas Burke is a professor of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences. He earned a BA in English/Philosophy and an MA in Mathematics from the University of New Mexico before completing his PhD in Philosophy at Stanford University. Dr. Burke specializes in the study of classical pragmatism, a philosophical tradition that originated in the United States in the late nineteenth century in works of William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, George Herbert Mead, and John Dewey. Dr. Burke's recent book What Pragmatism Was (2013) explains how pragmatism differs from simply adopting a practical attitude. As a philosophical style, pragmatism is an approach to linguistic analysis that recognizes the fundamental status of actions and their consequences as elements of semantic and pragmatic analysis. Dr. Burke's research, grounded in exegetical studies of pragmatist texts, interprets contemporary philosophy of mind, language, and logic through the lens of classical pragmatism. His work in the philosophy of mind shows how various conundrums in contemporary cognitive science were foreseen and avoided in the social psychology developed by Dewey and Mead over a century ago. Dr. Burke's work in formal logic explores the fit between classical pragmatism and contemporary dynamic logic. He is currently developing a pragmatist formulation of Euclid's Elements that offers new insights into the foundations of mathematics. Dr. Burke's work in the philosophy of language shows how pragmatism works as a form of semantic analysis. Some of his recent publications show how Peirce's method of defining the words 'reality' and 'truth' can be applied to other difficult words like 'knowledge', 'good', 'justice', and 'democracy'. Other work in progress is developing connections between classical pragmatism and contemporary pragmatics.