The situated critic or the loyal critic? Rorty and Walzer on social criticism

Philosophy and Social Criticism 24 (6):25-46 (1998)
This article addresses the question whether the model of social criticism as 'connected' or 'loyal' which is advanced by Richard Rorty and Michael Walzer offers an adequate picture of social criticism. Two claims are made. First, it is suggested that loyalty is an internally conflicted concept, with three components: a recognition of situatedness in a particular relationship; an affirmation of that relationship by the loyal agent; a set of values or local principles. Where the third component is prominent, loyalty is more reflective and distanced; where the second component predominates, loyalty slips into unreflective commitment. Second, it is argued that Rorty and Walzer conflate the social critic's recognition of his or her situatedness in contexts of power with the affirmation of that situatedness. It is concluded that the model of loyal social criticism is mislead mg, and that the practice of the critic must be tempered by the operation of the sense of injustice. Key Words: connection • loyalty • Rorty • social criticism • Walzer.
Keywords Loyalty  Richard Rorty  Michael Walzer  Social criticism
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