Pragmatism and Jewish Thought: Eliezer Berkovits's Philosophy of Halakhic Fallibility

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In classical American pragmatism, fallibilism refers to the conception of truth as an ongoing process of improving human knowledge that is nevertheless susceptible to error. This paper traces appearances of fallibilism in Jewish thought in general, and particularly in the halakhic thought of Eliezer Berkovits. Berkovits recognizes the human condition's persistent mutability, which he sees as characterizing the ongoing effort to interpret and apply halakhah in shifting historical and social contexts as Torat ?ayyim. In the conclusion of the article, broader questions and observations are raised regarding Jewish tradition, fallibility, and modernity, and the interaction between Judaism and pragmatism in the history of ideas. c koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)86-135
Number of pages50
JournalJournal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Brill Academic Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • American pragmatism
  • Decision-making
  • Eliezer berkovits
  • Fallibilism
  • Halakhah
  • Jewish thought
  • Normative change
  • Sevarah

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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