Richard Rorty's liberalism

Critical Review 7 (1):15-31 (1993)
Richard Rorty, with his tendency to shock, to provoke, and to seize on Continental fashions, might be thought an unlikely liberal. Nevertheless, Rorty illustrates very well some of the characteristic weaknesses of contemporary liberalism. To the extent that he draws upon postmodern and deconstructionist sources, he highlights, and radicalizes, the liberal urge to break out of frozen identities and to destabilize static roles and fixed stations in life. His distinctive version of pragmatism yields a (novel) way of drawing liberal boundaries between private and public, culture and justice. And his antifoundationalism helps to legitimize a typical liberal reluctance to engage in any very ambitious social criticism. What distinguishes Rorty's liberalism is its higher degree of candor, which at least acknowledges that a liberal vision of things, far from being ?neutral? toward rival ideas of the good, is implicated in the defense of a particular way of life.
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    William Connolly (1990). Identity and Difference in Liberalism. In R. Bruce Douglass, Gerald M. Mara & Henry S. Richardson (eds.), Liberalism and the Good. Routledge. 59--85.
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