Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 April 2021
The principal difference between Rorty’s pragmatism and that of Peirce, James, and Dewey is his commitment to the nominalism that Peirce identified as the Achilles’ heel of modern philosophy. In their different ways, Peirce, James, and Dewey sought to eliminate nominalism from empiricism. That is their shared “radical empiricism.” Rorty, by contrast, was deeply impressed by the nominalism, and especially the anti-empiricism, of Analytic philosophy, especially in Sellars, Quine, Davidson, and Brandom. The result of Rorty’s effort to undo the trenchant antinominalism of the classical pragmatists is a pragmatism without much pragmatism, but a strong linguistic relativism, an ironic pragmatism more ironic than pragmatic.