U.S. Intellectual History Blog

my article in Contemporary Pragmatism

The current issue of Contemporary Pragmatism features my article, “The Limits of Liberalism: Pragmatism, Democracy and Capitalism.” (It is issue 5.2, which is somewhat confusingly dated December 2008.) The journal is the official publication of the International Pragmatism Society and is relatively new. Though I’d certainly encourage readers to request that their local academic libraries subscribe to the journal, anyone interested in reading my article can also write me to receive a copy and an emphatic thanks for his/her interest. The abstract is below.

Liberalism sanctions both democracy and capitalism, but incorporating the two into a coherent intellectual system presents difficulties. The anti-foundational pragmatism of Richard Rorty offers a way to describe and defend a meaningful democratic capitalism while avoiding the problems that come from the more traditional liberal justification. Additionally, Rorty’s rejection of the search for extrahuman grounding of social and political arrangements suggests that democracy is entitled to a philosophical support that capitalism is not. A viable democratic capitalism therefore justifies its use of markets on the consent of the governed, rather than appeals to liberal notions of individualism, liberty, and property.


4 Thoughts on this Post

  1. The article was a chapter in my dissertation that will not make it into the book. Too many people told me that it hang together well with the less theoretical, more historical chapters. After a year or so, I could look back on it and realize that they were right.

    Rorty did not write on libertarianism, but what problem doesn’t become more manageable with a dose of anti-foundational pragmatism? : ) The article really consists of me applying Rorty’s approach to an area about which he generally did not have that much to say.

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