The heart of Richard Rorty's philosophy is his distinction between the private and the public. In the first part of this paper, I highlight the profound influence that the inherited vocabularies of Romanticism and Moralism have had on Rorty's understanding of both the distinction and the problems he intends to solve with it. I also suggest that Rorty shares with Plato, Kant, and Nietzsche philosophical habits that cause him to treat two importantly different problems as one. Once the moral problem is disentangled from the political, it becomes clear that Rorty's distinction is unnecessary to the former and inadequate for the latter. In the second part of the paper, I argue that Rorty's non-foundationalist pragmatism supports the view that the political problem is best resolved by what I call a democratic mechanism of arbitration. It is the lingering influence of Romanticism and Moralism, I suggest, that is the cause of Rorty's reluctance to embrace fully the political priority of democratic consensus. Finally, I discuss why this analysis of Rorty's liberalism may have implications for the general question of how best to resolve political disputes in pluralist societies.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/09672550601143227
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,078
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:5-20.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 286-298.
Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science.Mary Hesse - 1982 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 33 (3):331-334.
Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science.Mary Hesse - 1984 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 15 (1):97-98.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Redeeming Rorty’s Private–Public Distinction.Tracy Llanera - 2016 - Contemporary Pragmatism 13 (3):319-340.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Rorty, Religion, and Humanism.Serge Grigoriev - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (3):187-201.
Liberalism, Ethnocentrism, and Solidarity: Reflections on Rorty.David Rondel - 2009 - Journal of Philosophical Research 34:55-68.
The Ethics of Rortian Redescription.Brad Frazier - 2006 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (4):461-492.
The Shape of Selves to Come: Rorty and Self-Creation.John T. Lysaker - 1996 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 22 (3):39-74.
Religion in a Private Igloo? A Critical Dialogue with Richard Rorty.Hartmut von Sass - 2011 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 70 (3):203-216.
Problems with Rorty’s Pragmatist Defense of Liberalism.Paul D. Forster - 2000 - Journal of Philosophical Research 25:345-362.
Richard Rorty and the Problem of Cruelty.Rachel Haliburton - 1997 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 23 (1):49-69.


Added to PP index

Total views
33 ( #343,341 of 2,498,932 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #421,180 of 2,498,932 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes