Rorty and Relativism

Back in the day, or perhaps it was even before the day, when I was a student at Nottingham University, I was much enamoured of the work of a group of American philosophers that included Dan Dennet, Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty.

Rorty died on June 8th, and while I'm not sure that I really understood much of what he had to say back then, I found this explanation of Rorty's philosophy in a memorial article on It's by Michael Berubé, professor of literature and cultural studies at Penn State University. It has nothing to do with the America's Cup, nothing to do with sailing, and little to do with writing, but it seemed so entirely apposite to our current condition on this crowded little planet that I thought I would include it here. It's my blog after all, who else makes the rules?

If you think you are acting in accordance with the eternal moral truths of the universe, after all, it is likely that you will think of people who think and act differently as being defective, deluded, or downright dangerous. On the other hand, if you think that morality is a matter of contingent vocabularies, you don't have to become a shallow relativist—you can go right on believing what you believe, except that you have to give up the conviction that there's no plausible way another rational person could think differently.

Back to the sailing next time.

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