In this volume Rorty offers a Deweyan account of objectivity as intersubjectivity, one that drops claims about universal validity and instead focuses on utility for the purposes of a community. The sense in which the natural sciences are exemplary for inquiry is explicated in terms of the moral virtues of scientific communities rather than in terms of a special scientific method. The volume concludes with reflections on the relation of social democratic politics to philosophy.
"This book is stimulating and challenging. The topics covered are diverse enough to capture the attention of almost any academic audience. Rorty introduces a variety of fresh and exciting ideas." Arnold Lorenzo Farr, disClosure
Rorty has added an introduction to 14 papers previously published between 1980 and 1989. The three main sections offer a contention that knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is not a matter of truth or falsity, but of acquiring useful habits of action for coping with reality; an examination of D. Davidson's views on explanation, truth, and language; and an exploration of the ``communitarian'' idea that a ``democratic, progressive, pluralist community'' can avoid questions about a mind- or language-independent reality by striving after ``intersubjective agreement and novelty.'' Although the essays contain points worth pondering, Rorty's writing is somewhat opaque and his argument lacks concrete detail. This reader remains unpersuaded that communitarian manipulation can satisfactorily replace rational inquiry into objective reality.-- Robert Hoffman, York Coll., CUNY
Acknowledgments; Introduction: antirepresentationalism, ethnocentrism, and liberalism; Part I. Solidarity or Objectivity?: 1. Science as solidarity; 2. Is natural science a natural kind?; 3. Pragmatism without method; 4. Texts and lumps; 5. Inquiry as recontextualization: an anti-dualist account of interpretation; Part II. Non-Reductive Physicalism: 5. Pragmatism, Davidson and truth; 6. Representation, social practice, and truth; 7. Unfamiliar noises: Hesse and Davidson on metaphor; PART III. The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy: 8. Postmodernist bourgeois liberalism; 9. On ethnocentrism: a reply to Clifford Geertz; 10. Cosmopolitanism without emancipation: a response to Jean-Francois Lyotard; Index of names.