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Reconsidering Richard Rorty’s Private-Public Distinction

Author(s): Lior Erez

Journal: Humanities
ISSN 2076-0787

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 193;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Rorty | Richard | pragmatism and neo-pragmatism | public-private distinction | liberalism

This article provides a new interpretation of Richard Rorty’s notion of the private-public distinction. The first section of the article provides a short theoretical overview of the origins of the public-private distinction in Rorty’s political thought and clarifies the Rortian terminology. The main portion of the article is dedicated to the critique of Rorty’s private-public distinction, divided into two thematic sections: (i) the private-public distinction as undesirable and (ii) the private-public distinction as unattainable. I argue that Rorty’s formulation provides plausible answers to the first kind of criticism, but not to the second. Finally, a reformulation of the private-public distinction will be suggested, which both mitigates the second line of criticism and better coheres with Rorty’s general theory.
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