Beyond apologia: Respecting legitimate differences of opinion while not toadying to dictators: A reply to Richard Rorty

Philosophy East and West 50 (1):92-96 (2000)
In _The Limits of Irony: Rorty and the China Challenge, I argued that while Rorty's ironic liberalism offered certain advantages over its more foundational Enlightenment ancestors as a possible starting point for political reforms in China, in the end the commitment to substantive liberal values was not likely to find much support in China. In his response, Rorty suggested that as an empirical matter Chinese would be better off if they endorsed Western liberal democracy. I replied that the empirical record is more ambiguous with respect to the merits of democracy. Moreover, any claim about the applicability and desirability and human rights is both an empirical and a normative claim; Chinese may find a communitarian alternative to liberalism more desirable
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