Have you ever called yourself a "pragmatist"? Have you ever wondered what that means? Aaron Zimmerman traces the origins of pragmatism to a theory of belief defended by the nineteenth-century Scottish philosopher Alexander Bain, and defends a novel take on the pragmatic theory in light of contemporary cognitive neuroscience, social psychology, and evolutionary biology. Pragmatists define their beliefs in terms of information poised to guide our more attentive,
controlled actions. Zimmerman describes the consequences of this definition for the reader's thinking on the relation between psychology and philosophy, the mind and brain, the nature of delusion, faith, pretence, racism, and more. He employs research on animal cognition to argue against the propositional
attitude analysis of belief now popular among Anglo-American philosophers, offers pragmatic diagnoses of Capgras syndrome and various forms of racial cognition, and defends William James' famous doctrine of the "will to believe". Zimmerman believes we often have room to believe what we want. Indeed, the adoption of a theory of belief is an instance of this very phenomenon.
Aaron Zimmerman was born and raised on Long Island, the son of Daniel A. Zimmerman and the Honorable Judge Hope S. Zimmerman. He attended Bowling Green Elementary School, W. Tresper Clarke High School, Tufts University and Cornell University, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in philosophy in 2002. He has taught at the University of California, Santa Barbara ever since, focusing his research on moral psychology, epistemology, the history of ethics and the philosophy of mind. His first book, Moral Epistemology, was published by Routledge in 2010.