Ethics of ambiguity and irony: Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty

Human Studies 24 (1-2):5-28 (2001)
This paper examines the relation or, more precisely, tension between postmodern deconstruction and ethics by elaborating upon the ethico-political dimensions of deconstructionism. It embarks on a critical assessment of postmodern discourse on ethics in view of its political implications by analyzing Jacques Derrida''s and Richard Rorty''s arguments with an assumption that their positions represent a certain logic in the postmodern discourse on ethics. Postmodern ethics is based on incredulity with regard to traditional metanarratives, and it defines ethics in terms of sensitivity or responsibility to otherness and difference. Its proponents believe that the negation of modern metanarratives opens a way to the Other which has been marginalized and suppressed both in thought and in social practice. Derrida and Rorty represent this position with their emphasis on the ethical nature of deconstruction and the need to elaborate new languages for ethics. Despite postmodern appeal to ethics of this sort, however, postmodern thinking shows its limits in dealing with most ethical-political matters in the contemporary world. The postmodern approach to ethics, being restricted within the perspective of the individual, does not provide any determinate framework for deciding how to adjudicate conflicting ethical claims or how to link the unconditional affirmation of emancipatory ideals, enlightened social criticism, and democratic accountability in determinate political terms. In the main, this paper contends that philosophical deconstruction and responsibility to otherness undermine each other in the public sphere.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Modern Philosophy   Philosophy of the Social Sciences   Political Philosophy   Sociolinguistics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/A:1010769718790
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,865
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Jacques Derrida (1998). Of Grammatology. Johns Hopkins University Press.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

18 ( #150,602 of 1,725,156 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #210,933 of 1,725,156 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.