Friday, January 5, 2007
I've posted here a draft of a paper commenting on Richard Rorty's Dewey Lecture at the University of Chicago Law School last year; this paper, along with Rorty's Dewey lecture and some other commentaries will appear in University of Chicago Law Review later this year. Here is the abstract:
“Pragmatism,” says Rorty, “puts natural science on all fours with politics and art. It is one more source of suggestions about what to do with our lives.” I argue that the truth in pragmatism—-that the epistemic norms that help us cope are the ones on which we rely--is obscured by Rorty's promiscuous version of the doctrine, which confuses the criteria for relying on particular epistemic norms (namely, that they work for human purposes) with the content of the norms themselves (most of which make no reference to human purposes, but rather criteria like causal or explanatory power). We need presuppose no Archmiedean standpoint to conclude, as Richard Posner does, that moral inquiry is feeble in a way physics is not; we need only take seriously our best current understanding of the world, how it works, and the epistemic norms that have proven most effective in making sense of it.