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7 - Rorty’s Political Philosophy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2021

David Rondel
Affiliation:
University of Nevada, Reno
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Summary

Rorty’s liberalism strays so far from its classical form that one might wonder why we cluster him together with thinkers such as Locke, Kant, or even more recent writers such as Rawls. Clarifying the particulars of Rorty’s political philosophy – his particular liberalism – requires one to enter into a set debates about metaphysics, epistemology, and social thought that go beyond liberalism, veering into literary criticism, critical theory, and Marxism. This chapter begins by laying out the contours of Rorty’s political commitments, beginning with how they first came together in what he calls his “postmodernist bourgeois liberalism.” It then shows how his liberalism finds its fullest expression in the “ideally liberal society” set out in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. It goes on to examine how, in subsequent work, Rorty revised his description of that society in response to criticisms from feminist theorists. It concludes that his later writings indicate that Rorty’s position is potentially more radical than he, or his readers, recognize.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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