Richard Rorty

Edited by James Tartaglia

© 2010 – Routledge

1,552 pages

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Hardback: 9780415490047
pub: 2009-12-01
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About the Book

Richard Rorty (1931–2007) remains one of the contemporary world’s most influential thinkers. He has been a major figure in philosophy ever since the publication of his first important paper, ‘Mind-Body Identity, Privacy, and Categories’ in 1965, but it was the release of his seminal Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979) that caused the literature on his work to expand exponentially, a process which has accelerated since his death in 2007; scores of new articles and books about Rorty appear every year, and even his biography has proved to be an academic bestseller. Rorty’s enduring appeal has a number of sources. One is the scope and urgency of his views, for he was never shy about presenting his call for the abandonment of objective truth against the grand backdrop of the cultural progress of the West. Another is that his views were highly controversial, and yet could not be easily dismissed, since Rorty was able to claim with some plausibility that he was simply drawing out the consequences of positions developed by his more conventionally respectable peers. And another is that Rorty applied his views to a wide range of topical concerns outside of academic philosophy. For these and many other reasons, philosophers to this day line up to refute him, students read Rorty before the philosophers he discusses, and non-philosophy academics produce a continuous stream of articles applying his views to their own interests.

The daunting quantity (and variable quality) of literature available on Rorty makes it difficult to discriminate the useful from the tendentious, superficial, and otiose. That is why this new title in the highly regarded Routledge series, Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers, is so urgently needed. Edited by James Tartaglia, the author of Rorty and the Mirror of Nature (Routledge, 2007), one of the most popular and straightforward books available on Rorty, this new Routledge Major Work is a four-volume collection of the best scholarship from the 1960s to the present day; the collected materials have been carefully selected from a wide range of academic journals, edited collections, and research monographs, many of which are hard to obtain in their original source.

The first of the four volumes (‘Mind, Language, and Truth’) covers Rorty’s eliminative materialism in the philosophy of mind, his Davidsonian rejection of conceptual schemes in the philosophy of language, and his rejection of objective truth. Volume II (‘Metaphilosophy and Pragmatism’), meanwhile, assembles the best assessments of his pessimistic metaphilosophy, and his distinctive conception of pragmatism. The third volume (‘Philosophers’) brings together the key scholarly work on Rorty’s highly original—but endlessly disputed—interpretations of other philosophers, while the final volume in the collection (Volume IV: ‘Themes’) explores Rorty’s views as applied to a diverse range of topics, from feminism to environmentalism and bioethics.

The tightly focused organization of this collection will allow scholars quickly and easily to access both established and up-to-date assessments of Rorty’s central positions, and will also make for irresistible browsing. With comprehensive introductions to each volume, providing essential background information and relating the various articles to each other, Richard Rorty is destined to be an indispensable resource for research and study.

Table of Contents


Richard Rorty

1. Obituary, The Times, 12 June 2007.

2. Stephen Metcalf, ‘Richard Rorty: What Made Him a Crucial American Philosopher?’, Washington Post, 18 June 2007.

3. Neil Gross, ‘Rorty Reexamined’, Richard Rorty: The Making of an American Philosopher (University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 301–32.

4. Ermanno Bencivenga, ‘Rorty and I’, The Philosophical Forum, 1993, 24, 307-318.


5. James W. Cornman, ‘On the Elimination of "Sensations" and Sensations’, Review of Metaphysics, 1968, 22, 15–35.

6. William G. Lycan and George S. Pappas, ‘What is Eliminative Materialism?’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1972, 50, 149–59.

7. Eric Bush, ‘Rorty Revisited’, Philosophical Studies, 1974, 25, 33–42.

8. Philip Cam, ‘"Rorty Revisited", or "Rorty Revised?"’, Philosophical Studies, 1978, 33, 377–86.

9. David R. Hiley, ‘Is Eliminative Materialism Materialistic?’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1978, 38, 325–37.

10. Kenneth T. Gallagher, ‘Rorty’s Antipodeans: An Impossible Illustration?’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1985, 45, 449–55.

11. John Furlong, ‘Scientific Psychology as Hermeneutics? Rorty’s Philosophy of Mind’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1988, 48, 489–503.

12. Attila Karakus and Andreas Vieth, ‘Is Rorty’s Non-Reductive Naturalism Reductive?’, in Andreas Vieth (ed.), Richard Rorty: His Philosophy Under Discussion (Ontos Verlag, 2005), pp. 79–96.


13. Michael Losonsky, ‘Reference and Rorty’s Veil’, Philosophical Studies, 1985, 47, 291–4.

14. Michael Devitt, ‘Rorty’s Mirrorless World’, Realism and Truth, 2nd edn. (Princeton University Press, 1997), pp. 203–19.

15. David Houghton, ‘Rorty’s Talk-About’, in A. Malachowski (ed.), Reading Rorty: Critical Responses to Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (and Beyond) (Blackwell, 1990), pp. 156–70.

16. Robert B. Brandom, ‘Vocabularies of Pragmatism: Synthesizing Naturalism and Historicism’, in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and his Critics (Blackwell, 2000), pp. 156–83.


17. Simon Blackburn, ‘Observation and Truth: From Locke to Rorty’, Truth: A Guide for the Perplexed (Allen Lane, 2005), pp. 139–71, 229–31.

18. Mark Okrent, ‘The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth’, Inquiry, 1993, 36, 381–404.

19. Paul Boghossian, ‘Epistemic Relativism Defended’ and ‘Epistemic Relativism Rejected’, Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism (Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 58–94.

20. D. Vaden House, ‘Without God or His Doubles?’, Without God or His Doubles: Realism, Relativism and Rorty (E. J. Brill, 1994), pp. 116–45.

21. Bernard Williams, ‘Accuracy: A Sense of Reality’, Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy (Princeton University Press, 2002), pp. 123–48, 294–6.


Reviews of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature

22. Quentin Skinner, ‘The End of Philosophy?’, New York Review of Books, 19 March 1981, 46–8.

23. Harry Ruja, ‘Review of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1981, 42, 299–300.

24. Chris Murphy, ‘Critical Notice of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 1981, 59, 338–45.

25. Fred Dretske, ‘Review of Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’, International Studies in Philosophy, 1982, 14, 96–8.

26. Richard J. Bernstein, ‘Philosophy in the Conversation of Mankind’, Review of Metaphysics, 1979, 33, 745–75.

27. Ian Hacking, ‘Is the End in Sight for Epistemology?’, Journal of Philosophy, 1980, 77, 579–88.

28. Jaegwon Kim, ‘Rorty on the Possibility of Philosophy’, Journal of Philosophy, 1980, 77, 588–97.


29. Alasdair MacIntyre, ‘Philosophy, the "Other" Disciplines, and their Histories: A Rejoinder to Richard Rorty’, Soundings, 1982, 65, 127–45.

30. David R. Hiley, ‘Edification and the End of Philosophy’, Philosophy in Question: Essays on a Pyrrhonian Theme (University of Chicago Press, 1988), pp. 143–73, 190–3.

31. Michael Williams, ‘Epistemology and the Mirror of Nature’, in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and His Critics (Blackwell, 2000), pp. 191–213.

32. Michael Williams, ‘Rorty on Knowledge and Truth’, in Charles Guignon and David R. Hiley (eds.), Richard Rorty (Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 61–80.

33. Ernest Sosa, ‘Serious Philosophy and Freedom of Spirit’, Journal of Philosophy, 1987, 84, 707–26.

34. Konstantin Kolenda, ‘Can Free Spirits be Serious?’, Southwest Philosophy Review, 1989, 5, 107–12.

35. D. Z. Phillips, ‘Reclaiming the Conversations of Mankind’, Philosophy, 1994, 69, 35–53.

36. Jakob Hohwy, ‘Quietism and Cognitive Command’, Philosophical Quarterly, 1997, 47, 495–500.

37. Gary B. Madison, ‘Philosophy Without Foundations’, Reason Papers, 1991, 16, 15–44.

38. Manuel Arriaga, ‘Richard Rorty’s Anti-Foundationalism and Traditional Philosophy’s Claim of Social Relevance’, International Philosophical Quarterly, 2005, 45, 467–82.


39. Cornel West, ‘The Decline and Resurgence of American Pragmatism: W. V. Quine and Richard Rorty’, The American Evasion of Philosophy: A Genealogy of Pragmatism (University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), pp. 182–210, 265–9.

40. Robert Kirk, ‘Rorty’s "Postmodern" Pragmatism’, Relativism and Reality: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 1999), pp. 134–43.

41. H. O. Mounce, ‘Rorty: Hermeneutics and Irony’, The Two Pragmatisms: From Peirce to Rorty (Routledge, 1997), pp. 193–209.

42. David Hall, ‘An Old Name for Some New Ways of Thinking’, Richard Rorty: Prophet and Poet of the New Pragmatism (SUNY Press, 1994), pp. 65–101, 253–9.

43. Ronald Dworkin, ‘Pragmatism, Right Answers, and True Banality’, in Michael Brint and William Weaver (eds.), Pragmatism in Law and Society (Westview Press, 1991), pp. 359–69, 382–3.

44. Susan Haack, ‘Vulgar Pragmatism: An Unedifying Prospect’, Evidence and Inquiry: A Pragmatist Reconstruction of Epistemology, 2nd edn. (Prometheus Books, 2009), pp. 239–53, 295–6.



45. John P. Murphy, ‘Post-Quinean Pragmatism’, Pragmatism: From Peirce to Davidson (Westview Press, 1990), pp. 95–116, 123–5, 132.

46. Maria Baghramian, ‘Rorty, Davidson and Truth’, Ratio, 1990, 3, 101–16.

47. Frank B. Farrell, Subjectivity, Realism and Postmodernism: The Recovery of the World (Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 117–47.

48. Bjørn Ramberg, ‘Post-Ontological Philosophy of Mind: Rorty versus Davidson’, in Robert B. Brandom (ed.), Rorty and His Critics (Blackwell, 2000), pp. 351–70.


49. Daniel C. Dennett, ‘Comments on Rorty’, Synthese, 1982, 53, 349–56.

50. Daniel C. Dennett, ‘Postmodernism and Truth’, in Daniel Dahlstrom (ed.), The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy (Vol. 8: Contemporary Philosophy) (Philosophy Doc. Ctr., 2000), pp. 93–103.


51. Simon Critchley, ‘Deconstruction and Pragmatism: Is Derrida a Private Ironist or a Public Liberal?’, in Chantal Mouffe (ed.), Deconstruction and Pragmatism (Routledge, 1996), pp. 19–40.

52. Paul Trembath, ‘The Rhetoric of Philosophical "Writing": Emphatic Metaphors in Derrida and Rorty’, The Journal of Aesthetics & Art Criticism, 1989, 47, 169–73.


53. James Gouinlock, ‘What is the Legacy of Instrumentalism? Rorty’s Interpretation of Dewey’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 1990, 28, 251–69.

54. Richard Shusterman, ‘Pragmatism and Liberalism Between Dewey and Rorty’, Political Theory, 1994, 22, 391–412.


55. Georgia Warnke, ‘Hermeneutics and the "New Pragmatism"’, Gadamer: Hermeneutics, Tradition and Reason (Polity Press, 1987), pp. 139–66, 194–7.


56. Jürgen Habermas, ‘Coping with Contingencies: The Return of Historicism’, in Jósef Niznik and John T. Sanders (eds.), Debating the State of Philosophy (Praeger, 1996), pp. 1–24, 29–30.


57. Jonathan Salem-Wiseman, ‘Absolute Knowing and Liberal Irony: Hegel, Rorty, and the Criterion of Progress’, International Studies in Philosophy, 1999, 31, 139–53.


58. Charles B. Guignon, ‘On Saving Heidegger from Rorty’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1986, 46, 401–17.


59. Daniel W. Conway, ‘Disembodied Perspectives: Nietzsche contra Rorty’, Nietzsche-Studien, 1992, 21, 281–9.


60. Susan Haack, ‘"We Pragmatists …": Peirce and Rorty in Conversation’, Partisan Review, 1997, 64, 91–107.


61. William M. Goodman, ‘Theaetetus, Part II: A Dialogical Review’, Antioch Review, 1984, 42, 393–408.


62. Hilary Putnam, ‘Realism with a Human Face, Part Two: Relativism’, Realism with a Human Face (Harvard University Press, 1992), pp. 18–29, 323–4.

63. Hilary Putnam, ‘Truth, Activation Vectors and Possession Conditions for Concepts’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1992, 52, 431–8.

64. Paul D. Forster, ‘What is at Stake Between Rorty and Putnam?’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1992, 52, 585–603.


65. Greg Hill, ‘Solidarity, Objectivity, and the Human Form of Life: Wittgenstein vs. Rorty’, Critical Review, 1997, 11, 555–80.

66. Michael Peters, ‘Rorty, Wittgenstein, and Postmodernism: Neopragmatism and the Politics of the Ethnos’, in Michael Peters and James Marshall, Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy (Bergin and Garvey, 1999), pp. 133–51.



67. John D. Arras, ‘Rorty’s Pragmatism and Bioethics’, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 2003, 28, 597–613.

Chinese Philosophy

68. Kwang-Sae Lee, ‘Rorty and Chuang Tzu: Anti-Representationalism, Pluralism and Conversation (or Resonance of Pipings)’, Journal of Chinese Philosophy, 1996, 23, 175–92.

Environmental Philosophy

69. Andrew Light, ‘Materialists, Ontologists, and Environmental Pragmatists’, Social Theory and Practice, 1995, 21, 315–33.

70. Simon Hailwood, ‘Landscape, Nature, and Neopragmatism’, Environmental Ethics, 2007, 29, 131–49.


71. Matthew Festenstein, ‘Ethnocentrism and Irony’, Pragmatism and Political Theory: From Dewey to Rorty (Polity Press, 1997), pp. 109–44, 216–24.


72. Sabina Lovibond, ‘Feminism and Pragmatism: A Reply to Richard Rorty’, New Left Review, 1992, 193, 56–74.


73. Phillips E. Young, ‘The Irony of Ironic Liberalism’, International Studies in Philosophy, 1997, 29, 121–30.

74. John Horton, ‘Irony and Commitment: An Irreconcilable Dualism of Modernity’, in Matthew Festenstein and Simon Thompson (eds.), Richard Rorty: Critical Dialogues (Polity Press, 2001), pp. 15–28.


75. Jon Stewart, ‘The Philosophical Curriculum and Literature Culture: A Response to Rorty’, Man and World, 1994, 27, 195–209.

76. Barbara McGuinness, ‘Rorty, Literary Narrative and Political Philosophy’, History of the Human Sciences, 1997, 10, 29–44.

Moral Philosophy

77. J. B. Schneewind, ‘What has Moral Philosophy Done for Us … Lately?’ (2009) (new for this collection).

78. Christian B. Miller, ‘Rorty and Moral Relativism’, European Journal of Philosophy, 2002, 10, 354–74.


79. Karen L. Carr, ‘Richard Rorty and the Dissolution of Crisis’, The Banalization of Nihilism: Twentieth-Century Responses to Meaninglessness (SUNY Press, 1992), pp. 85–116, 164–71.

80. M. A. Casey, ‘Rorty: The Post-Metaphysical Solution to Meaninglessness’, Meaninglessness: The Solutions of Nietzsche, Freud, and Rorty (Lexington Books, 2002), pp. 77–113.


81. Alan Johnson, ‘The Politics of Richard Rorty’, New Politics, 2000, 29, 103–21.

82. Norman Geras, ‘Language, Truth and Justice’, Solidarity in the Conversation of Humankind: The Ungroundable Liberalism of Richard Rorty (Verso, 1995), pp. 107–47.


83. Nicolas H. Smith, ‘Rorty on Religion and Hope’, Inquiry, 2005, 48, 76–98.

84. James Flaherty, ‘Rorty, Religious Beliefs, and Pragmatism’, International Philosophical Quarterly, 2005, 45, 175–85.

Social Science

85. Ben Letson, ‘Richard Rorty and The Meaning of Social Science’, International Social Science Review, 1995, 70, 43–52.

About the Series

Critical Assessments of Leading Philosophers

This series includes a rich backlist of some of the most important and influential philosophers from throughout the ages – including works on Plato, Nietzsche, Socrates and Rene Descartes. The latest addition to the series covers Daniel Dennett – considered one of the most central voices in the philosophy of mind for at least the past forty years.

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