Richard Rorty: Critical Dialogues / Edition 1

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Overview

Richard Rorty is one of the most influential and provocative figures in contemporary intellectual life. He argues that many of philosophy's traditional concerns are redundant, and that the goal of inquiry should not be truth but human betterment. In this collection a distinguished team of scholars grapples with the implications of his writings for social and political thought. Avoiding mindless adulation or ritual denunciation, they offer careful but critical investigations of the meaning of Rorty's work for a range of important issues.

Topics explored include anti-foundationalism; irony and commitment; justice; liberalism and utopianism; reason and aesthetics; humanism and anti-humanism; the Holocaust; the theory of international relations; social democracy and the pragmatist tradition. Each essay is followed by a reply written for this volume by Rorty. The volume also includes a substantial essay by Rorty on 'Justice as a Larger Loyalty'.

This volume is indispensable for any reader interested in Rorty's work, or in contemporary debates in social, political or ethical theory. Contributors: Molly Cochran; Daniel Conway; Matthew Festenstein; Norman Geras; John Horton; David Owen; Richard Rorty; Kate Soper; Simon Thompson.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This volume is a cut above the rest since it finds Rorty's critics and commentators on excellent form and Rorty himself rising to the challenge with far more vigour and passion than he has often been able to muster in recent years. The editors have done a good job in keeping the focus steadily on social, political, and ethico-juridical issues and thereby giving the book a distinctive profile. They have also exercised shrewd judgement in assembling a well-qualified team of contributors whose attitudes range from outspoken opposition, through varying degrees of critical reserve, to qualified endorsement of Rorty's thinking on a number of central issues. This in turn has provoked Rorty to offer a series of thoughtful, extended and sometimes quite combative (even prickly) rejoinders which tell us far more about the scope and limits of his 'North-Atlantic postmodern bourgeois-liberal pragmatist' outlook than previous such encounters. This book should do much to extend and refine the terms of a debate around Rorty's work that has too often become just a pretext for the exchange of routine hostilities.' Christopher Norris, University of Cardiff, Wales

"[The book] is an example of first-rate critisism...This collection serves as a very good introduction to Rorty's work in these areas of philosophy. Further, the dialogical character of this collection makes it valuable for those who seek a refined understanding of Rorty's views." David F. Dudrick, Philosophy in Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745621654
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Festenstein isLecturer in Politics, University of Sheffield and Simon Thompson is Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of the West of England

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Contributors
1 Richard Rorty: Pragmatism, Irony and Liberalism 1
2 Irony and Commitment: An Irreconcilable Dualism of Modernity 15
Response to John Horton 29
3 Richard Rorty on Truth, Justification and Justice 33
Response to Simon Thompson 51
4 Irony, State and Utopia: Rorty's 'We' and the Problem of Transitional Praxis 55
Response to Daniel Conway 89
5 The Avoidance of Cruelty: Joshing Rorty on Liberalism, Scepticism and Ironism 93
Response to David Owen 111
6 Richard Rorty: Humanist and/or Anti-humanist? 115
Response to Kate Soper 130
7 Reason and Aesthetics between Modernity and Postmodernity: Habermas and Rorty 134
Response to Richard Shusterman 153
8 Progress without Foundations? 158
Response to Norman Geras 171
9 Rorty's Neo-pragmatism: Some Implications for International Relations Theory 176
Response to Molly Cochran 200
10 Pragmatism, Social Democracy and Political Argument 203
Response to Matthew Festenstein 219
11 Justice as a Larger Loyalty 223
Index 238
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2004

    More on contingency, irony and solidarity

    Rorty is in good form in this collection of essays by various writers criticizing his views on social and political philosophy, with Rorty replying to each. Reading his replies one is struck by how often his critics just get him wrong, and pretty seriously so. I personally find Rorty¿s anti-foundationalism, historicism, nominalism, atheism, pragmatism, and liberalism congenial. However there remain certain questions. These might be summed up in the title of his earlier book which sets forth many of the views criticized by these essays: Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Whether or not something is ¿contingent¿ or ¿necessary¿ would seem to be relative to the situation or framework. To say that 'everything is contingent' is to take an absolute position, and that seems problematic. Rorty seems not to realize that one can be an anti-foundationalist and a nominalist, and still think it is worthwhile to search for foundations and essences relative to a certain framework or situation. Rorty uses the word ¿ironist¿ to refer to someone who has ¿radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses¿ and who thinks this vocabulary is ¿no closer to reality than others¿? Such radical skepticism concerning values (what he means by 'final vocabulary') seems appropriate sometimes, but at others it may be more appropriate to stand by one¿s values as reaching beyond mere appearance. As for ¿solidarity,¿ it seems for Rorty to come down to identifying liberalism with empathy with the suffering of others. I find it odd to think of liberalism as simply the belief that ¿cruelty is the worst thing.¿ Shouldn¿t it also include some sort of commitment to the promoting creative self-realization for as many people as possible? I like his conclusion in the last chapter that the way to get others to adopt recent Western ways we value, such as abandoning slavery, practicing religious tolerance, allowing mixed marriages, tolerating homosexuality, and so on, is to drop our talk of universal values and to say 'Here is what we in the West look like as a result of ceasing to hold slaves, beginning to education women...' There is also much discussion in this book of Rorty's advocacy of combining public solidarity with private irony, and whether this is ultimately consistent. This might boil down to the question of whether someone can be both an elitist and a democrat. Whether you agree with him or not, Rorty is always worth reading.

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