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A Critique of Rorty’s Conception of Pragmatism

Giladi, Paul (2015) A Critique of Rorty’s Conception of Pragmatism. European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, VII (2). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2036-4091


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The aim of this paper is to argue that Richard Rorty’s claim that pragmatism is opposed to all varieties of metaphysics is fundamentally mistaken. After detailing pragmatist reasons for thinking Rorty’s proposal is justified, I argue that there are more compelling pragmatist reasons to think Rorty’s metaphilosophical interpretation of pragmatism is rather problematic: firstly, Rorty has a narrow understanding of ‘metaphysics’ and he does not take into account Peirce’s argument that it is impossible to eliminate metaphysical concepts from ordinary language and our scientific practices; secondly, Rorty’s Sellarsian philosophical anthropology and his proto-Brandomian theory of the constitution of norms are in fact instances of metaphysical positions. I conclude the paper by claiming that given that pragmatism is in fact supportive of a specific variety of metaphysics, the relationship between idealism and pragmatism ought to be seen as involving more convergence rather than great contestation.

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