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On the Apparent Differences between Contemporary Pragmatists: Richard Rorty and the New Pragmatism

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Author(s): Michael Bacon

Journal: Humanities
ISSN 2076-0787

Volume: 1;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 229;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: pragmatism | objectivity | truth | freedom | constraint | Richard Rorty

ABSTRACT
Throughout its history pragmatism has been criticised for failing to account for the roles truth and objectivity play in our lives and inquiries. Pragmatists have long sought to guard against this objection, but recently some proponents have identified a form of pragmatism which they think is deficient in the manner identified by its critics. This has led them to claim that pragmatism should be understood as falling into two distinct varieties, and to argue for the superiority of the one over the other. In this paper I argue that behind the apparent differences between contemporary pragmatists lies greater agreement than is commonly thought. Taking Richard Rorty to represent what some find unattractive in their philosophy, I claim that there is little if any substantive difference between pragmatists about the concepts of truth and objectivity. Further, Rorty’s work shows that it is misleading to distinguish pragmatists in terms of whether they highlight the constraints imposed by social practices or whether they seek to free us from such constraint; properly understood, freedom and constraint are a necessary condition of one another.

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