Versions of Pragmatic Liberalism: from Rorty back to Dewey
Keywords:philosophy of pragmatism, Richard Rorty, John Dewey, historicism, naturalism, liberalism
Aim. The aim of this study is to analyze and evaluate two versions of the theory of liberalism which emerged within the philosophical tradition of pragmatism: Richard Rorty’s “ironic liberalism” and John Dewey’s “renascent liberalism”.
Methods. The study is based on: 1) comparative analysis, which shows the differences and points of contact between Dewey’s classical pragmatism and Rorty’s neo-pragmatism, in particular, between different versions of their liberal theories; 2) critical analysis, which made it possible to identify the shortcomings and advantages in the arguments of the above-mentioned philosophers.
Results. The author analyzed Rorty’s and Dewey’s theories of liberalism in relation to their theories of reality, human specificity, and ethics. In this way, the specific liberal views of these American philosophers on such issues as the relationship between private and public, the main goals of politics, and the values of the social order were explicated. It allowed offering a thorough critique of Rorty’s “ironic liberalism”, and supporting of Dewey’s “renascent liberalism”.
Conclusion. While Dewey saw the mission of liberalism in enabling individuals to improve their experience, Rorty insisted on the need for a liberal policy of providing the basic conditions for individual self-creation. The main disadvantage of Rorty’s neo-pragmatism, and, in particular, “ironic liberalism”, was the exclusion from the philosophy of the modifying tools of human behavior, which were expressed by the concepts of “good” or “virtue”, in Dewey’s “renascent liberalism”. This circumstance necessitates a return from Rorty back to Dewey in the discussions on pragmatic liberalism.
Key words: philosophy of pragmatism, Richard Rorty, John Dewey, historicism, naturalism, liberalism.
Albrecht, J. M. (2012). Reconstructing Individualism: A Pragmatic Tradition from Emerson to Ellison. New York: Fordham University Press.
Deneen, P. J. (1999). The Politics of Hope: Rorty, Havel, and the Democratic Faith of John Dewey. Social Research, 66(2), 577-609.
Dewey, J. (1920). Reconstruction in Philosophy. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Dewey, J. (1946). The public and its problems: an essay in political inquiry. Chicago: Gateway books.
Dewey, J. (1963). Liberalism and Social Action. New York: Capricorn Books.
Dewey, J. (1998). Creative Democracy – the Task before Us. In: L. A. Hickman & T. M. Alexander (Eds.), The Essential Dewey: Volume 1: Pragmatism, Education, Democracy (pp. 340-343). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 340-3.
Dewey, J., & Tufts, J. H. (1908). Ethics. New York: Henry Holt and company.
Hildebrand, D. L. (2020). Rorty and Dewey. In A. Malachowski (Ed.), The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Rorty (pp. 335-356). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Press.
James, W. (1987). Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking. In B. Kuklick (Ed.), William James, Writings, 1902-1910 (pp. 479-624). New York: Library of America.
Koopman, C. (2006). Pragmatism as a Philosophy of Hope: Emerson, James, Dewey, Rorty. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 20(2), 106-116. https://doi.org/10.1353/jsp.2006.0020
Marshall, J. D. (1995). On what we may hope: Rorty on Dewey and Foucault. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 13(3-4), 307-323. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf01077686
Rondel, D. (2011). Anti-Authoritarianism, Meliorism, and Cultural Politics: On The Deweyan Deposit in Rorty’s Pragmatism. Pragmatism Today 2(1), 56-67.
Rorty, R. (1982a). Dewey’s metaphysics. In: Rorty, R. Consequences of Pragmatism (Essays: 1972-1980) (pp. 72-89). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rorty, R. (1982b). Introduction: Pragmatism and philosophy. In: Rorty, R. Consequences of Pragmatism (Essays: 1972-1980) (pp. xiii-xlvii). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Rorty, R. (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (1991). The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy. In: Rorty, R. Objectivity, Relativism, and Truth: Philosophical Papers I. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (1994). After Philosophy, Democracy. In: G. Borradori (Ed.), The American Philosopher: conversations with Quine, Davidson, Putnam, Nozick, Danto, Rorty, Cavell, MacIntyre, and Kuhn (pp. 103-117). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rorty, R. (1995). Philosophy and the Future. In: H. Saatkamp, Jr. (Ed.), Rorty and Pragmatism (pp. 197-205). Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press.
Rorty, R. (1998a). A Defense of Minimalist Liberalism. In: A. L. Allen & Milton C. Regan, Jr. (Eds.), Debating Democracy's Discontent: Essays on American Politics, Law, and Public Philosophy (pp. 117-125). New York: Oxford University Press.
Rorty, R. (1998b). Dewey between Hegel and Darwin. In: Rorty, R. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers III (pp. 290-306). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (1998c). Human Rights, Rationality and Sentimentality. In: Rorty, R. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers III (pp. 167-185). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (1998d). Rationality and Cultural Difference. In: Rorty, R. Truth and Progress: Philosophical Papers III (pp. 186-201). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (1998e). The Next Left. Interview by Scott Stossel. Atlantic Unbound, April 23, 1998, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/04/the-next-left/306010/
Rorty, R. (1999a). Ethics without principles. In: Rorty, R. Philosophy and Social Hope (pp. 72-92). New York: Penguin Books.
Rorty, R. (1999b). Failed Prophecies, Glorious Hopes. In: Rorty, R. Philosophy and Social Hope (pp. 201-209). New York: Penguin Books.
Rorty, R. (1999c). Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in Twentieth-Century America. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Rorty, R. (1999d). Afterword: Pragmatism, Pluralism, and Postmodernism. In: Rorty, R. Philosophy and Social Hope (pp. 262-277). New York: Penguin Books.
Rorty, R. (2007). Justice as a larger loyalty. In: Rorty, R. Philosophy as Cultural Politics: Philosophical Papers IV (pp. 42-55). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Rorty, R. (2010). An Ethics for Today. In: R. Rorty, G. Vattimo, G. Dann, & J. Robbins (Eds.), An Ethics for Today: Finding Common Ground Between Philosophy and Religion (pp. 7-26). New York: Columbia University Press.
Shusterman, R. (1994). Pragmatism and Liberalism between Dewey and Rorty. Political Theory, 22(3), 391-413. https://doi.org/10.1177/0090591794022003002
Voparil, Ch. J. (2014). Rorty and Dewey Revisited: Toward a Fruitful Conversation. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, 50(3), 373-404. https://doi.org/10.2979/trancharpeirsoc.50.3.373
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 Zlatyslav Dubniak
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal. All authors agree for publishing their email adresses, affiliations and short bio statements with their articles during the submission process.