David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Philosophical Research 21:391-403 (1996)
This paper examines Richard Rorty’s “ironic liberalism,” arguing that it has no rational justitication. Rorty’s neopragmatism is first taken into account, tracing its origin and development to the political education he received in his youth. As is well known, Rorty defines himself as a liberal democrat, claiming that Westem liberal thought has produced the best form of political and social life which has ever appeared on our planet. However, if one asks why he is so positive about that, no answer can be found in Rorty’s works. The paper goes on revealing Rorty’s political philosophy as a corollary of his overall meaning holism, which takes the social and political body to be a Quinean net with no center and no boundary. Resorting to a mental experiment, the paper eventually shows that Rorty’s ironic liberalism is not a position which facilitates human choice in dramatic conditions. Any totalitarian ideology rnight readily discard ironic liberalism, because it would be easy to show that its supporters cannot even argue in favor of their convictions
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