Linker on Rorty

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Damon Linker writing in The New Republic has an odd take on Richard Rorty's influence on the development of liberalism. Linker accuses Rorty of "implying that every outlook but his own inevitably clashes with liberal politics" and of therefore coming "perilously close to transforming liberalism into a monistic philosophy--a comprehensive doctrine to which all liberal citizens must pledge absolute allegiance." Curiously, Linker doesn't quote any writing by Rorty that carry this implication.

He then recommends as an alternative "less dogmatic philosophies of liberalism--those found in the essays of Isaiah Berlin, in the later writings of John Rawls, and even in the books of conservative theorist Michael Oakeshott," people who "defended a form of liberalism that Rawls called 'political, not metaphysical.'" The thing is that this is exactly what Rorty thinks. His essay on "The Priority of Democracy to Philosophy" (see also this) is an explicit defense of later Rawls against critics who maintain that he needs deeper philosophical foundations.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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