Subjectivity, Realism, and Postmodernism [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 49 (2):408-410 (1995)
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Abstract

Farrell characterizes his book as a counternarrative to Richard Rorty's influential account of the breakdown of traditional pictures of mind, language, and reality brought about by the linguistic and interpretive turn in recent Anglo-American and European philosophy. It is not Farrell's aim to breathe new life into these old ideas but instead to retell the story of their demise and in so doing to challenge the conclusions drawn by Rorty. Thus whereas Rorty's critique of the notion of mind as the mirror of nature leads to an antirealist and relativist account of belief and to the claim that for the pragmatist the concept of the world as it is in itself is philosophically bankrupt, Farrell's competing account of the disenchantment of subjectivity clears the way for a "modest" theory of epistemological and moral realism. Rejecting the interpretation of the world as the mere "shadow of our practices", this theory attempts to demonstrate that our scientific and moral beliefs can, and in fact most often do, "track" the world itself.

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