|Rorty and Pragmatism
Philosophy 541, Spring 2009
Professor Russell Goodman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Richard Rorty (1931-2007) was a leading “neopragmatist” philosopher who forged a synthesis of the analytic philosophy of W. V. O. Quine and Donald Davidson, the classical American pragmatism of William James and John Dewey, and the “continental” philosophy of Heidegger, Derrida and Nietzsche. This graduate-level course will be devoted to some of Richard Rorty’s major works, from his pre-pragmatic anthology, The Lingistic Turn (1967), through his initial pragmatist breakthrough in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1981), and his mature works, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989), Truth and Progress, (1998) and Philosophy and Social Hope (2000). We will also consider criticisms of Rorty by leading contemporary philosophers (and Rorty’s replies) published in Robert Brandom’s Rorty and his Critics (2000).
Participants in the seminar will be expected to offer two or three presentations on the readings to the class. A final paper of 15-20 pages is due May 11th.
Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton 1981
Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Cambridge, 1989.
Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope. Penguin 2000
Richard Rorty, Truth and Progress, Cambridge, 1998.
Robert Brandom, Rorty and his Critics, Blackwell, 2000.
The first two week’s readings will be available from the UNM Copy Center in Dane Smith Hall.
26 January: Introduction
a. Rudolf Carnap, “Empiricism, Semantics, and Ontology”
b. W. V. O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”
c. Donald Davidson, “On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.”
a. Gilbert Ryle, “Systematically Misleading Expressions”
b. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, paragraphs 89-116.
c. J. L. Austin, “A plea for Excuses”
Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, “Our Glassy Essence,” pp. 3-127
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, “Mirroring,” pp. 129-311
a. Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, “Philosophy,” pp. 315-94
b. Michael Williams, “Epistemology and the Mirror of Nature,” in Brandom, pp. 191-213
Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Part 1: “Contingency,” pp. 3-69
16 March, Spring Break
23 March, Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Part 2: “Ironism & Theory”, pp. 73-137
a. Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, Part 3: “Cruelty and Solidarity,” pp. 141-98
b. James Conant, “Freedom, Cruelty and Truth: Rorty Versus Orwell,” in Brandom, pp. 268-342
Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope
Rorty, “Universality and Truth,” Jurgen Habermas, “Richard Rorty’s Pragmatic Turn,” and Hilary Putnam, “Richard Rorty on Reality and Justification,” all in Brandom, Rorty and His Critics, pp. 1-55, 81-7
20 April: “Hilary Putnam and the Relativist Menace,” pp. 43-62, “Charles Taylor on Truth,” pp. 84-97, “Robert Brandom on Social Practices, pp. 122-37, in Rorty, Truth and Progress
John McDowell, “Towards Rehabilitating Objectivity” in Brandom, 109-23, “John McDowell’s Version of Empiricism,” in Truth and Progress pp. 138-52
4 May: Rorty, “Feminism and Pragmatism,” pp. 202-227, “Dewey Between Hegel and Darwin,” pp. 290-306, “Habermas, Derrida, and the Functions of Philosophy,” pp. 307-326, in Truth and Progress
Final papers due 11 May, 5 p. m.