American pragmatism has always had at its heart a focus on questions of communities and ethics. This book explores the interrelated work of three thinkers influenced by the pragmatist tradition: Josiah Royce, Wilfrid Sellars, and Richard Rorty. These thinkers’ work spanned the range of twentieth-century philosophy, both historically and conceptually, but all had common concerns about how morality functions and what we can hope for in our interactions with others. Steven Miller argues that Royce, Sellars, and Rorty form a traditional line of inheritance, with the thought of each developing upon the best insights of the ones prior. Furthermore, he shows how three divergent views about the function, possibilities, and limits of moral community coalesce into a key narrative about how best we can work with and for other people, as we strive to come to think of widely different others as somehow being morally considerable as "one of us."
Table of Contents
Introduction: ‘We’: The Dangerous Thing
1. Josiah Royce’s Philosophy of Loyalty
2. The Sellarsian Ethical Framework
3. Richard Rorty’s Quasi-Sellarsian We
4. On the Prospects of Redescribing Rorty Roycely
Steven A. Miller is a fellow with the Institute for American Thought at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis as well as an adjunct scholar at Ripon College in Ripon, WI. His work has previously appeared in the Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society, Administration and Society, and the Journal of Social Philosophy.
"Steven Miller seeks to connect three American philosophers who the author tells us ‘appreciated the centrality of community to morality’: Josiah Royce, Wilfrid Sellars, and Richard Rorty . . . His book is really valuable. It makes us think along less traversed paths, forcing us to reevaluate our ways of thinking, with their heavy reliance on the small set of philosophers that we all too easily gravitate to. It's a book definitely worth reading." – Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
"This well-written, scholarly work targets students of the history of recent American philosophy . . . Summing Up: Recommended." – CHOICE Reviews
"‘We’—a word both inclusive and exclusive— is the very basis of the notion of community. It is a word that means that one never has to go it solely alone. But it’s also a warning to outsiders: you don’t belong with ‘us.’ Miller leads us carefully along the boundaries of the word and allows us to see both the promise and peril of community. Miller’s account of Royce, Sellars and Rorty is engaging and scrupulous, a succinct and convincing appeal to reconsider the ‘we’ in American intellectual history." – John Kaag, University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA
"Steven Miller’s excellent book methodically reconstructs and explores, with depth and clarity and feeling, one of the most important philosophical ideas in the American philosophical tradition, from its early formulation in Josiah Royce and C. S. Peirce, to its mid-twentieth century analytic articulation in Wilfrid Sellars, to its contemporary pragmatist vision in the wide-ranging writings of Richard Rorty: namely, that we understand ourselves best when we understand ourselves as loyal members of a unified community of ‘we-saying’ fellow suffers joined together in our many projects for the betterment of humanity." – Jerold Abrams, Creighton University, USA