1st Edition

The Ethics of Richard Rorty Moral Communities, Self-Transformation, and Imagination

Edited By Susan Dieleman, David E. McClean, Paul Showler Copyright 2022

    This book contains diverse and critical reflections on Richard Rorty’s contributions to ethics, an aspect of his thought that has been relatively neglected. Together, they demonstrate that Rorty offers a compelling and coherent ethical vision. The book's chapters, grouped thematically, explore Rorty’s emphasis on the importance of moral imagination, social relations, language, and literature as instrumental for ethical self-transformation, as well as for strengthening what Rorty called "social hope," which entails constant work toward a more democratic, inclusive, and cosmopolitan society and world.

    Several contributors address the ethical implications of Rorty’s commitment to a vision of political liberalism without philosophical foundations. Others offer critical examinations of Rorty’s claim that our private or individual projects of self-creation can or should be held apart from our public goals of ameliorating social conditions and reducing cruelty and suffering. Some contributors explore hurdles that impede the practical applications of certain of Rorty's ideas.

    The Ethics of Richard Rorty will appeal to scholars and advanced students interested in American philosophy and ethics.

    Introduction: Stretched Thin: Rorty’s Ethical Vision Paul Showler and Susan Dieleman

    Part I: Creating Moral Communities and Creating Selves

    1. Reading Rorty in Tehran; Or, What Happened When I Road-Tested Rorty’s Philosophy of Life Inside an Iranian Prison Kian Tajbaksh

    2. Self-Creation and Community: Nietzsche, Foucault, Rorty Daniel I. Harris

    3. Richard Rorty, Ethnocentrism, and Moral Community: A Westerner’s Response to FGM John Giordano

    4. Rorty's Hope of Achieving a Global Civilization Clarence Mark Phillips 

    Part II: Imagination, Care, and Virtue

    5. Imagination as a Social Virtue Santiago Rey

    6. Can Trees Care? The Overstory and Rorty's Ideal of Inspirational Literature Ben Roth

    7. Richard Rorty on the "Too Sane" David E. McClean

    8. Scientific Method and Moral Virtue Stephane Madelrieux

    Part III: Engagements with Moral Philosophy

    9. Talking with the Better-Looking Animals: Richard Rorty on Moral Status Paul Showler

    10. Rortyan Ethics: Zim Zuming to Maturity Richard Gilmore

    11. When is Desire Dangerous? The Conversation Leading from Nietzsche’s ‘Delicate Boundary’ to Rorty’s ‘Poeticized Culture’ James Hersh

    Part IV: Re/Interpretations of Rorty

      12. Speaking for Oneself: Stolen Vocabularies and Imposed Vocabularies Susan Dieleman

      13. Pragmatism and the Tragic Sense of Death Bryan Vescio

      14. The Importance of Words: Ironism, Liberalism, and the Private/Public Distinction Federico Penelas

      15. The Ironic and Liberal Deficit in Rorty’s Irony Rebeca Pérez León


      Susan Dieleman is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, USA. She is the coeditor of Pragmatism and Justice (2017) and of the Conference Proceedings for the 2017 meeting of the Richard Rorty Society (2019). She is also coeditor of the entry on Richard Rorty for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

      David E. McClean is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Business and Professional Ethics at Rutgers University, Newark, USA. He is the editor of The Integrated Ethics Reader: Reconnecting Thought, Emotion, and Reverence in a World on the Brink (2020) and Understanding and Combating Global Corruptions: A Reader (2021). He is the author of Wall Street, Reforming the Unreformable: An Ethical Perspective (Routledge, 2015) and Richard Rorty, Liberalism, and Cosmopolitanism (Routledge, 2014).

      Paul Showler is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Oregon, USA. His dissertation draws from recent work in pragmatism and philosophical genealogy to develop and defend a new approach for thinking about moral status.