The Differences That Make a Difference: A Comment on Richard Bernstein

In contrast to Bernstein's emphasis on the common ground shared by Rorty and Habermas, this paper stresses the basic differences between them, particularly their diverse assessments of rationalism, universalism, foundationalism and developmentalism, as well as their opposed evaluations of systematic thought and critical social theory. Several difficulties with Rorty's views on reason, truth and objectivity, as with his historicism and physicalism are suggested. It is concluded that Bernstein's emphasis on the common elements in their "moral-political vision", in the face of these striking theoretical differences, overestimates the extent to which normative ideals can survive being cut off from larger contexts of ideas.
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