Pragmatism, Relativism, and the Critique of Philosophy

Metaphilosophy 29 (1&2):58-78 (1998)
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Abstract

The relativist strain in Rorty’s work should be distinguished from the Davidsonian strain. The latter may be exploited in support of Rorty’s critique of philosophy but it is at odds with his use of “solidarity” and “ethnocentrism”as explanatory concepts. Once this is recognized, there remains in Rorty’s work a consistent challenge to the search for general philosophical theories of truth, objectivity, and rationality (of which relativism itself is an example). On this reading, however, Rorty’s pragmatism is not a theory that offers answers to questions about the authority of beliefs and practices but rather a critical tool used to open detailed, concrete, and critical investigation into particular questions about the establishment and viability of the beliefs and practices we have.

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Paul Forster
University of Ottawa

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