History of the Human Sciences 2 (2):171-191 (1989)

Paul A. Roth
University of California, Santa Cruz
In this paper, I examine how a manifest disagreement between Richard Rorty and Alasdair MacIntyre concerning the history of philosophy is but one of a series of deep and interrelated disagreements concerning, in addition, the history of science, the good life for human beings, and, ultimately, the character of and prospects for humankind as well. I shall argue that at the heart of this series of disagreements rests a dispute with regard to the nature of rationality. And this disagreement concerning the norms of rationality, despite its theoretical and practical importance, is one which is, or so I argue, irresolvable. Moreover, the series of disagreements which I examine in the context of the debate between Rorty and MacIntyre is not peculiar or idiosyncratic to them. Their dispute reflects presumptions common to contemporary analytical philosophy. And while analytical philosophers have not made discussions of human nature one of their characteristic concerns, I indicate that such concerns do play a central role in the controversy which I examine. Differences of opinion concerning the political and social nature of human beings are reflected up and down the philosophical line. My argument is in no way concerned with issues of psychological priority or causality (e.g. whether having certain views disposes one psychologically to accepting other views). What I establish are the logical relations, and the points of philosophical contention, among certain epistemo logical and political theses. In Part I, I rehearse Rorty's epistemological views and examine how these views are connected to his views on morality and human nature. In Part II, I begin with MacIntyre's position concerning the virtues and modern moral philosophy and then reconstruct, ex pede Herculem, his views on rationality. Part III examines the prospects of reconciling the perspectives discussed in the first two sections
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DOI 10.1177/095269518900200202
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Richard Rorty - 1979 - Princeton University Press.
After Virtue.A. MacIntyre - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 46 (1):169-171.
Whose Justice? Which Rationality?Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1988 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature.Alvin I. Goldman - 1979 - Philosophical Review 90 (3):424-429.

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Citations of this work BETA

Hayden White and the Aesthetics of Historiography.Paul A. Roth - 1992 - History of the Human Sciences 5 (1):17-35.

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