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Rorty, liberalism and the limits of contingency Naylor, Joseph Alan 1994

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Rorty, Liberalism and the Limits of ContingencybyJoseph Alan NaylorB.A., The University of British Columbia, 1979M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1985A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Department of Philosophy)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 1994© Joseph Alan Naylor, 1994In presenting this thesis in partial fulfillment of therequirements for an advanced degree at the University of BritishColumbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely availablefor reference and study. I further agree that permission forextensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may begranted by the head of my department or by his or herrepresentatives. It is understood that copying or publication ofthis thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without mywritten permission.(Signature_____________________Department of____________________The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate7)____Abstract Page iiRortv, Liberalism and the Limits of ContingencyThe foundational role of metaphysics, traditionally taken to be thebasis of justification for our beliefs and vocabularies, is attacked byRichard Rorty, who sees, rather, contingency everywhere. Truths arenot found or discovered through a mirroring relation between ourproducts and an authority that is timeless and independent; insteadthey are made solely through the internal workings and developmentof vocabularies. Attempts to restore and modernize foundationalistparadigms, to write metanarratives that try to fit all of our existing andpossible narratives into a scheme of commensuration, thus need to beabandoned. Although we should be grateful for the liberal institutionsthat foundationalist paradigms helped sustain through the use ofsupporting metaphysical views of the self and the world, we are nowmature enough to keep the institutions and throw away the obsoletejustifications. Those of us socialized into expecting such justificationsfor political institutions may feel a sense of irony at theirabandonment, but generations to come, no longer socialized as we atpresent are, will see that sort of justification as quaint.Rorty thinks that this way of describing things, his vocabulary, willwork better; indeed, this pragmatism, which replacesAbstract Page iiifoundationalism, motivates his entire enterprise. However, avocabulary, albeit itself contingent, that can describe creatures that arecapable of producing things such as vocabularies which “work” andmay “work better”, is one that, by necessity, includes the terms andrelations needed to describe such creatures. Chief among the ideasneeded is action, since a vocabulary that cannot distinguish eventsfrom actions cannot describe human practicality, or pragmatism.The concept of action takes us to a core self, identified by thecognitive states which explain the difference between acts and otherevents, and to an epistemic relation with a world that can bedescribed at least in terms of its functional properties, but which isproperly external to beliefs. These terms and their relations comprisea set of ‘contingent necessities’ which constitute a metanarrative thatRorty cannot reject and continue to describe himself as a non-idealistpragmatist. Furthermore, these elements, which a pragmaticvocabulary cannot [re—I describe or otherwise evolve its way out of andremain pragmatic, are rich enough to justify the basic rights espousedby liberals. In such descriptions sufficiently self-conscious describersfind the limits of contingency and therefore the limits of irony. Suchconnections, of which Rorty appears to be unaware, exist between thenecessities of his pragmatism and certain fundamental aspects ofAbstract Page ivliberalism.Rorty criticizes Dworkiri, Foucault and Habermas for resting theirviews on unqualified or absolute necessities which are the mark of ametaphysics. Rorty takes the modalities of description to be eitherunqualifiedly a matter of necessity or contingency. However, as wehave seen, there is a third way. Once these theorists can availthemselves of this third way, the contributions made by thesetheorists can no longer be summarily dismissed as metaphysics.Table of Contents page vAbstract iiTable of Contents VAcknowledgements viiDedication viiiChapter One : Rorty’s Vocabulary 11] Rorty’s Vocabulary 12] Moral foundationalism: an attack 43] Liberalism without Foundations: Liberal Ironists 104] Rorty the Anti-Epistemologist -- Ironist Theorizing 235] The Incommensurability of Vocabularies 276] Self-Creation 2971 Rorty’s vocabulary; a summary 37Chapter Two: Authority; Enlightenment and Historicist 401] Authority 402] Relativism, Cultural Solipsism and Putnam 533] Cultural Solipsism 594] The Consequences of Being Anti-Metanarrative:Williams and Commitment. 625] Commitment; Enlightenment and Historicist 736] The Ironist 797] A Pragmatic Translation of the Transcendent,Regulative Function of Reason 99Table of Contents page viChapter Three: The Metanarrative of Pragmatism 1101] The Metanarrative of Pragmatism; The NecessaryConditions for Goal-Functionality 1 102] Dewey’s Narrative of Pragmatism 1323] How The Metanarrative of PragmatismConnects With Basic Rights 1514] The Metanarrative and the Justification ofthe Basic Rights of Liberalism 163Chapter Four: Liberalism 1911] Foucault 1942] Dworkin 1993] Habermas 2104] Main Assumptions and Conclusions 216Cited Bibliography 220Acknowledgements Page viiI would like to acknowledge the contributions made by my advisors,colleagues and friends to this thesis.Were it not for the patience, constancy, and philosophicalcontribution of Professor Coval, this thesis would have not seen thelight of the microfilm copier. Professor Coval’s help cannot besufficiently acknowledged, but I hope that these lines are a starLI would also to thank Professor Winkler for his stewardship of thisproject and Professor Taubeneck for his encouragement andthoughtful comments.I would also like to acknowledge the help, guidance and advice ofthe following teachers; Professor Sikora, Professor Smith, ProfessorSolomon, Professor Weir, Professor Zimmerman, and colleagues;Professor Gordon, Mr. Wardrop, Dr. Barthelemy, Dr. Katz, Dr.Bourgeois, Dr. Preinsberg, Ms. Vos, Professor Hundert, ProfessorStockholder, Dr. Slater and Dr. Pearson. Thank you.Three of my friends deserve special mention; Richard Wozny for hishelpful and detailed comments, the ‘pragmatic-by-example HaroldFutrell-Fruhling and a practical rational agency machine himself, Dr.Campbell.Although I hesitate to single them out by name, for fear ofencouraging the interpretation of preferences that are not intended, Iwould like to express my sincere and enduring thanks to my family,relatives and the rest of my friends.Although they are in no way responsible for the defects that thedissertation possesses, whatever merits it now possesses would havenot surfaced without these contributions.Dedication Page viiiThis thesis dedicated to my Mother, Leslie Barbara Naylor and thememory of my Father, Geoffrey Corfield Naylor. No one could ask forbetter parents.Chapter one, section one Page 1Chapter SummaryThis chapter provides a brief overview of Rortysdistinct philosophical vocabulary. His revisionary approach totraditional liberal political morality will be sketched. Thisinvolves looking at the divided vision that Rorty describes;the tensions between poetry and philosophy; self-creationand solidarity; the private and the public; the ironist and themetaphysician. His historicist successor-scheme to theahistorical ambitions of ancient, Enlightenment and modernphilosophers will be adumbrated. From this exegesis we willbe able to determine the main lines of his antifoundationalist critique, and obtain a clearer sense of thepositions that he must take for himself in order to produce acoherent program. The precise nature of his historicism willrequire further exploration in chapter two. In chapter threethe tension between Rorty’s pragmatism and his critique willform the basis upon which an alternative conception ofpragmatism will be advanced. It will then be argued that therequirements of a coherent pragmatism can stand in ajustificatory relation to a set of basic rights. Chapter fourworks out some of the implications for political morality ofthese two versions of pragmatism by evaluating severalcontemporary liberal theorists. We will begin with Rorty’sattack on attempts to find foundations for our moralpractices. Rorty’ s alternative conception, ironist liberalism,will then be summarized. Ironist theorizing, a program thataims to replace the metaphysical, epistemological programthat gave birth to foundationalism, will follow. Rorty’saccount of ‘what we are’ and how our vocabularies are to beunderstood will be provided. With this summary of Rorty’sviews in hand, we will be better placed to foreshadow thecriticisms of Rorty that will be presented in the followingchapters.Chapter one, section one Page 21] Rorty’s vocabularyRorty’s position pushes against traditional connections between oursocial life and justification, or, in other other words, between how welive together and our answers to ‘What is the best way to livetogether?’ As we have become more self-conscious about thejustification of our political institutions and actions, and jurisprudencehas become more self-conscious about its relationship to politicalmorality, Rorty arrives to attempt to sever these links. In the history ofpolitical morality, Rortys work is a revisionary challenge to the natureand method of justification in that discipline.The despair of the traditional skeptic is caused by the belief thattruth and/or justification requires a picture of a relational sortbetween our beliefs and their extra-belief justifiers and that such arelationship is impenetrable. Rorty, in a revisionist move, suggeststhat a “liberal society is badly served by an attempt to provide it with“philosophical foundations”1and throws out the skeptic along withthat picture.To recapitulate, we can think of knowledge as a relation topropositions, and thus of justification as a relation betweenthe proposition in question and other propositions fromwhich the former can be inferred2.Anti-foundationalism, historicism, pragmatism and liberalism are1 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and sotidarity,Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1989, p.52Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.,1979, p. 159.Chapter one, section one Page 3united by Rorty into a position that he once labelled “post-modern”3.Rorty weaves a powerful defense of these positions by arguing thatalthough they can come into conflict with one other, they can,nevertheless, be combined, through both public and private spheres ofaction, in a human life4. A primary target of Rorty’s program ismodern political morality. He believes that liberal institutions can bedefended and sustained even when foundationalist methods ofjustification, inherited from the ancient Greeks, transformed by the‘onto-theological’ tradition and deepened by the Enlightenment, areeliminated.Writ large, Rorty’s position tries to find a way to settle the quarrelbetween poetry and philosophy. He is “content to treat the demands ofself-creation [poetry] and of human solidarity [philosophy] as equallyvalid, but forever incommensurable”5.Self-creation is seen to be a‘private’ matter, ‘solidarity’, public. He does not think that a singletheory can unify the divergent goals the private and the public embody[autonomy/freedom and solidarity/liberalism, respectively] andrequests that we abandon any requirement that these goals “speak thesame language”6. He defends this incommensurability by attackingvarious strategies which attempt to find a meta-vocabulary, ormetanarrative, that would synthesize both of these spheres of humanR. Rorty, “Postmodern Bourgeois Liberalism”, Objectivity, relatthisrn and tnitft, CambridgeUniversity Press, 1990. He has stopped using the term postmodern now (1994), preferring, ‘postNietzschean’.R. Rorty,Corttthgency, irony and soLidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, Cambridge,p. 198.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. xv.6 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. xv.Chapter one, section two Page 4action into a scheme of commensuration. While Rorty does not believethat his view is the entailment of modern treatments of epistemologyor philosophy of language7,he does find positions in these areas thatsupport him in undercutting attempts at producing a metanarrative (aview that allows us to commensurate competing theories ordescriptions) that unites the public and the private.Nothing requires us to first get straight about language, thenabout belief and knowledge, then about personhood, andfinally about society8.21 Moral foundationalism: an attackRorty will replace traditional, foundationalist, political morality with‘historical comparison with other attempts at social organization”9.The theorizing of traditional, foundationalist political morality will giveway to the recognition that traditional touchstones of justification,such as the nature of the self, or of truth, are “touchstones which aremerely cultural artifacts”0.Political morality should cease makingfutile attempts to ground normative claims upon necessities and admitthat our normative choices are historically conditioned, contingentartifacts. Rorty encourages us, as liberals, to stop trying to findtouchstones, or foundations for liberal institutions, and instead, “takeas its goal the creation of even more various and multicoloredartifacts”11R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 54.8 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 55.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 53.10 R Rorty, Ibid., p. 53.R.Rorty,Ibid., p.54.Chapter one, section two Page 5The idea that liberalism ought to have foundations was aresult of Enlightenment scientism, which in turn was asurvival of the religious need to have human projectsunderwritten by a non-human authority. 12We can keep using expressions from the traditional vocabulary ofmorality, such as the language employed in utilitarian or Kantianprinciples. However, once we recognize the contingency of thesemethods of persuasion and control, we should see them as “remindersof, or abbreviations for, such practices, not justifications for suchpractices” 13•We can keep the notion of “morality” just insofar as we cancease to think of morality as the voice of the divine part ofourselves and instead think of it as the voice of ourselves asmembers of a community, speakers of a common language.We can keep the morality-prudence distinction if we think ofit not as the difference between an appeal to theunconditioned and an appeal to the conditioned but as thedifference between an appeal to the interests of ourcommunity and the appeal to our own, possibly conflicting,private interests. The importance of this shift is that it makesit impossible to ask the question ‘Is ours a moral society?” Itmakes it impossible to think that there is something whichstands to my community as my community stands to me,some larger community called “humanity” which has anintrinsic nature’4.12 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 52.13 R.Rorty,Ibid., p.59.Chapter one, section two Page 6The successors to the Theologians who attempted to justify a moralitythrough the authority of God are those who believe that there is someequally fixed authority for morality within the human realm, ‘theintrinsic nature of humanity’, self-evident truths, or the nature ofreality. One representative approach, which Henry Sidgwick uses todescribe himself, is labelled “Intuitionist”. On this account, one intuitsthe truth of certain claims. They are self-evident truths which implysomething that can be used to ‘ground’ or be the foundation for ourmoral practices. Sidgwick thought that we can have such ‘knowledge’about normative matters and, on the basis of such a self-evidentintuition, claimed that Utilitarianism could be seen to rest on the self-evident intuition that “happiness is the only rational ultimate end ofaction.”15 Sidgwick, as a token of the type of foundationalist moraltheorist that Rorty is eager to attack, is within a paradigm ofjustification which Rorty’s position wishes to abandon: “a moralpsychology which will safeguard the interests of reason, preserve amorality-prudence distinction.., a different way of seeing language, onethat treats it as a medium in which to find truth which is out there inthe world (or, at least, deep within the self, at the place where we findthe permanent, ahistorical, highest-level desires which adjudicatelower-level conflicts)”6.Because of the systematic nature of hisarguments and the clarity with which he expresses them, I will be use‘4R Rorty, Ibid., p. 59.15 Henry Sidgwick, The Methods of Ethics, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., London, seventh edition,1962, first published, 1874, p. 201.16 R. Rortv, Op Cit., 1989, p. 51.Chapter one, section two Page 7Sidgwick as a foil to illustrate Rorty’s anti-foundationalism.Sidgwick believes that one can distinguish “self-evident truths”from intuitions that are simply appealing. Sidgwick considers manycandidates for self-evidence before concluding that only the intuition“happiness is the only rational ultimate end of action”17 is self-evident. For example, determinate duties, such as those against incest,cannot, on reflection, be maintained to be self-evident. “Even againstincest we seem to have rather an intense sentiment than a clearintuition”18 For Sidgwick, the fundamental axiom of utilitarianismcan be seen as self-evident, but the process of discerning self-evidentnormative truths does not identify more than this fundamentalpremise.I find that I undoubtedly seem to perceive, as clearly and ascertainly as I see any axiom in Arithmetic or Geometry, that itis ‘right’ and ‘reasonable’ for me to treat others as I shouldthink that I myself ought to be treated under similarconditions, and to do what I believe to be ultimatelyconducive to universal Good or Happiness. But I cannot findinseparably connected with this conviction, and similarlyattainable by mere reflective intuition, any cognition thatthere actually is any Supreme Being who will adequatelyreward me for obeying these rules of duty, or punish me forviolating t1iem9This inseparable connection is an example of how the authoritative17 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 201.18 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 255.19 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 507.Chapter one, section two Page 8function once performed by God can be internalized into the humanmind. In Sidgwick we have an excellent example of a secularized, butstill foundational, morality. The idea of a divine authority for suchbeliefs is dropped, but through the process of discerning self-evidentnormative truths, the idea of a neutral, ahistorical and absolutely validpremise is maintained. From this foundation the imperatives of apublic morality can be derived.Rorty responds by seeing a ‘divinization’ of the faculty that intuitsthese self-evident truths. Rorty portrays the people capable ofdiscerning absolutely valid normative beliefs as “those in whom reason,viewed as a built-in righteousness detector, is powerful enough toovercome evil passions, vulgar superstitions, and base prejudices”20.It seems that Sidgwick’s position requires a type of faculty that iscapable of discriminating between self-evident normative truths andcontingent, culturally induced, normative beliefs. As in epistemology,this issue can be described in terms of the problem of representation,or in Rorty’s terminology, ‘mirroring’. Since there is no independentway to verify the accuracy of our representation of these truths, just asthere is no independent way to get out from behind the ‘veil ofperception’2’to verify our beliefs about the world, there is no meansto verify which beliefs have the property of being self-evident.Sidgwick’s paradigm of justification, which takes skepticism as theproduct of the failure of foundationalism, makes this move:If on the other hand we find that in our supposed knowledge20 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 47.21 John Mackie, Problems from Locke, Oxford University Press, 1974, p. 37.Chapter one, section two Page 9of the world of nature propositions are commonly taken to beuniversally true, yet seem to rest on no other grounds thanwe have strong disposition to accept them, and that they areindispensable to the systematic coherence of our beliefs,--itwill be more difficult to reject a similarly supportedassumption in. ethics, without opening the door to universalskepticism. 22For Sidgwick, the unintuitive position of skepticism is the inevitableconsequence of the failure of foundationalism. Sidgwick’s paradigm ofjustification uses the traditional skeptic, whose despair is caused bythe belief, on the one hand, that truth and/or justification requires apicture of a relational sort between our beliefs and their justifiers, and,on the other, believes that relationship to be impenetrable.A quick response to Sidgwick’s normative claim is to say that it ismerely a belief that is caused by a historical process. Sidgwickresponds, “if it be admitted that all beliefs are equally in the positionof being effects of antecedent causes, it seems evident that thischaracteristic alone cannot serve to invalidate any of them.”23 Rortycan respond that the claim is attempting to gain our assent as anabsolute, ahistorical, self-evident truth. Yet its appeal is a product of itscoherence with the content of common moral beliefs. Sidgwick admitsthat there is a causal history to the intuition “happiness is the onlyrational ultimate end of action”24,but that “no general demonstrationof the derivedness or developedness of our moral faculty can supply an22 Henry Sidgwick, Op Cit., 1989, p. 509.23 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 213.24 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 201.Chapter one, section three Page 10adequate reason for distrusting it”25. But Rorty can respond that thismove is just a conflation of self-evidence with commonplaceplatitudes, claims that people rarely trouble themselves to disagreeabout. To say that moral beliefs are common is to say that they are, at ahistorical time and place, causally effective in producing behaviour in amajority of agents. Since we are causal with respect to common moralbeliefs, both in acting on them and promoting them to other membersof the community, the fact that they are perceived as intuitively true isto be expected, and explained in such causal terms, but not to beconfused with their ahistorical validity.Rorty’s paradigm of justification removes the representationalrelation between beliefs and their justifiers. In that way, the traditionalskeptic is jettisoned along with the paradigm of justification used byfoundationalists like Sidgwick.If there were essential properties to creatures like us, then afoundational project would be possible. We would be able to justify ourchoices between competing moralities by making reference to thatnature. But Rorty is convinced that no such nature can be found, andthus no foundation can be built. The issue of whether there can be anature of the self, and thus a nature common to humanity as acollection of such selves, will be explored in chapter three.31 Liberalism without Foundations: Liberal ironistsRorty believes that what requires elimination or transformation isthe traditional methods of justifying liberalism- not the institutions25 Henry Sidgwick, Ibid., p. 213.Chapter one, section three Page 11that have been justified by such methods. While these justificationshave causally contributed to liberalism, they cannot complete anagenda set by Enlightenment standards, and have run their course astools.Most important, I think that contemporary liberal societyalready contains the institutions for its own improvement...Western social and political thought may have had the lastconceptual revolution that it needs. J. S. Mill’s suggestionthat governments devote themselves to optimizing thebalance between leaving people’s private lives alone andpreventing suffering seems to me to be pretty much the lastword.26Rorty outlines his revisionary approach to the justification ofliberalism by engaging in a critical analysis of theorists who look tofind something deeper than mere historical accident that hasproduced liberal institutions. Although it is intuitively plausible tothink that by jettisoning the justification of liberal institutions onewould be compelled to jettison what is justified by those arguments,Rorty disagrees. “Hostility to a particular historically conditioned andpossibly transient form of solidarity is not hostility to solidarity assuch”27.Our solidarity in support of liberal institutions may havebeen, in part, caused by some of those traditional liberal arguments.However, we should recognize that those arguments were onlyoccasionally sufficient in a particular historical situation and are notnecessary now for the maintenance of liberal institutions. For example,26 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 63.27 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. xv.Chapter one, section three Page 12he finds the ‘rights thesis’ of Ronald Dworkin, because it relies onsome essentialism of ‘what we are’, to be flawed in its ‘foundational’program’28.“Ronald Dworkin and others who take the notion ofahistorical human “rights” seriously serve as examples of thefirst absolutist pole.”29The intellectuals in Rorty’s liberal utopia will have stopped beingfoundationalists and will have become liberal ironists:[Ironists are] people who combine commitment with a senseof the contingency of their commitment”30.‘[T]he sort ofperson who faces up to the contingency of his or her mostcentral beliefs and desires- someone sufficiently historicistand nominalist to have abandoned the idea that those centralbeliefs and desires refer back to something beyond the reachof time and chance31.This name, ‘liberal ironist’, reflects the polarities throughout Rorty’sviews such as public/private, philosophy/poetry, and solidarity/self-creation. In their public lives, these citizens are willing to die forliberal institutions32,but privately, they feel the irony produced bythe recognition that although, as a matter of historical fact, they are28whether it is a foundational program in the relevant sense will be determined later in chapterfour.29 R. Rorty, Priority of Democracy to Philosophy Objecttvity, Relativism and Truth,Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1991, p.177.30R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 61.31 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. xv.32 R. Rorty. Ibid., p. 189.Chapter one, section three Page 13committed to liberal institutions, time and chance may haveimpressed very different allegiances and commitments into their webof beliefs and desires.Consistent with his preference for narrative rather than theory,Rorty uses a historical description to introduce the idea of irony intohis views.For it somehow became possible, toward the end of thenineteenth century, to take the activity of redescription morelightly than it had ever been taken before. It became possibleto juggle several descriptions of the same event withoutasking which one was right - to see redescription as a toolrather than a claim to have discovered essence... This is thesort of phenomena it is tempting to describe in terms of themarch of the World-Spirit toward clearer self-consciousness...But any such description would betray the spirit of playfulnessand irony which links the figures that I have beendescribing33.The state of irony is a product of the temporalizing and finitizing ofour ‘final vocabulary”, the fundamental, but not foundational, cognitiveitems to which our self-descriptions and justifications eventuallyresort. Rorty thinks that a central problem of the ironist is finding away of ‘keeping the seriousness of its finality while letting itselfexpress its own contingency... constantly dismantl[ing] itself andconstantly takling] itself seriously”34As human beings are ‘incarnated vocabularies’,35or ‘sententialR. Rorty, Ibid., p. 39.34R. Rorty, Ibid., p.112.Chapter one, section three Page 14attitudes,36 so too is society a concatenation of vocabularies. Theconcern of contemporary liberal political morality has been torationalize’ the vocabulary which has served as the touchstone behindour liberal institutions. To understand how this process needs to bereformed, and why we should look to literature and politics for ourends, or goals, we need to understand how a vocabulary functions inboth individuals and the state.All human beings carry about a set of words which theyemploy to justify their actions, their beliefs, and their lives.These are the words in which we formulate praise of ourfriends and contempt for our enemies, our long-termprojects, our deepest self-doubts and our highest hopes . . .1shall call these words a person’s final vocabulary. It is “final”in the sense that if doubt is cast on the worth of these words,their user has no non-circular argumentative recourse. Thosewords are as far as he can go with language; beyond themthere is only helpless passivity or a resort to force. A smallpart of a final vocabulary is made up of thin, flexible andubiquitous terms such as “true”, “good”, “right” and beautiful”.The larger part contains thicker, more rigid and moreparochial terms, for example, “Christ”, “England”,“professional standards”, “decency”, “kindness”, “theRevolution”, ‘the Church”, “progressive”, “rigorous’,“creative”. The more parochial terms do most of the work.3735R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 80.36 Rorty, Ibid., p. 88.Chapter one, section three Page 15Applying this thin/thick distinction to the vocabulary of liberalism, wefind that political morality spends most of its time on the thin words,and little time on the thick words that do most of the work.Reforming political culture, poeticizing it, would help to draw ourattention to the details that are required in order to make the thickerterms more palpable, more causal. We need “an increasing sense of theradical diversity of private purposes, of the radically poetic characterof individual lives, and of the merely poetic foundations of the “we-consciousness” which lies behind our social institutions”38.As asociety, we should not look for charter or “a lading list which was acopy of the universe’s own list.., to know the truth”39, instead, oursociety should be, as Proust was, “unashamed of his own finitude’40.What contemporary liberalism needs is a conversation with newvocabularies, the playing off of our institutions against utopiasenvisaged by those who are trying to work out new vocabularies:“[Mi oral philosophy takes the form of historical narration and utopianspeculations rather than the search for general principles.”41 Oncefreed from our old habits of justification, perhaps liberals can find newdescriptions that help to expand the scope of liberalism, includingnew groups that were formerly excluded.Although this state of irony might appear to leave the individual sodecommitted that action is not possible, Rorty does not believe that he37R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 73.Rorty, Ibid., p. 67-68.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 27.40 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 102-103.41 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 60.Chapter one, section three Page 16has undermined his pragmatic goals. “The fandamental premise of thebook is that a belief can still regulate action, can still be thought worthdying for, among people who are quite aware that this belief is causedby nothing deeper than contingent historical circumstance”42.Further examination (see chapter two “The Ironist”) of the relationbetween commitment, action and irony should clarify for us how theconcept of irony functions (or does not function) in Rorty’s overallview.For Rorty, liberalism can be seen as worth dying for. “Nothing ismore important than the preservation of these liberal institutions”43Rorty believes that we can take the contingent vocabulary that we haveinherited very seriously. But how is this seriousness compatible withthe recognition that everything, including our most cherished beliefs,can be redescribed? Ironist theory, which, through redescription, demetaphysicalizes and shows the contingencies in our culture, “can beprivatized, and thus prevented from being a threat to politicalliberalism”44.This treatment of the public/private split, like theliberal/ironist, philosophy/poetry, solidarity!self-creation splits, showshow Rorty is attempting to juggle the conflicting demands of goals thatappear to work against each other. Without a metanarrative we cannotexpect to synthesize these polarities into a scheme ofcommensuration.Rorty defends this divided vision by eliminating any overarching setRorty, Ibid., 1989, p. 189.R. Rorty, ‘Thugs and Theorists: A reply to Bernstien’, Political Theory, vol. 15 no. 4, Nov.1987, p. 567.R. Rorty, Op cit., 1989, p. 190.Chapter one, section three Page 17of concepts that might be used to synthesize or at least harmonizethese dualisms into a coherent single metanarrative. Withoutsomething like a fixed concept of the world, the self, or the nature oflinguistic consciousness to do the job, metanarratives cannot findanything substantial to help get the job done. The ironists, it seems,can describe their way out of any public attempt to ground our liberalinstitutions.What was glimpsed at the end of the eighteenth century wasthat anything can be made to look good or bad, important orunimportant, useful or useless, by being redescribed.45Against such an agile opponent, the public philosophy of liberalismcannot succeed in a synthesis of the ironist theorists and self-creatorswith public liberals into a single system, or, in Rorty’s ‘jargon”46,ametanarrative. What cannot be brought together in theory may still bebrought together in a human life. Rorty believes that he has describeda wayto distinguish the question of whether you and I share thesame final vocabulary from the question of whether you are inpain. Distinguishing these questions makes it possible todistinguish public from private questions, questions aboutpain from questions about the point of human life, the domainof the liberal from the domain of the ironist. It thus makes itpossible for a single person to be both”47.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 7.46As he refers to it himself.47R. Rorty, thid., p. 198.Chapter one, section three Page 18Although the quest to synthesize these two realms ‘in theory’, is to bedropped, Rorty still believes that a human life can exhibit behaviourthat crosses back and forth between these two realms. Nevertheless,he does offer some reasons, ‘in theory’, as to why they are to be keptseparate. The vocabularies of the private and the public sphere are‘incommensurable’. In the final section of chapter three, we will offeran explanation of why Rory claims there is incommensurabilitybetween these realms.In a representative move, Rorty faces the disappointed liberalfoundationalist and asserts that we should see the unimportance ofasking questions that require reference to something neutral,ahistorical and absolutely valid. For Rorty, the failure offoundationalism should not lead to skepticism. Such a result isinevitable only if one’s paradigm of justification requires foundations. Ifone is sufficiently riominalist and historicist-- in other words, if one isan ‘ironist’-- one will not require foundations in order to becommitted to the truth of a belief. Rorty, in a revisionist move,suggests that a “liberal society is badly served by an attempt to provideit with “philosophical foundations”48Rorty thinks that the sting ofthe charge of relativism is only painful to those trapped in thefoundationalist scheme of justification. Once we describe our way outof that paradigm, we will not solve the problems in that paradigm;rather we will dissolve the attraction we have to the problems fromthat paradigm. The questions that remain unanswered, the problemsthat remain unsolved, will no longer inhibit our commitment to48 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 52.Chapter one, section three Page 19believe and act on those beliefs. As an individual, Rorty believes thatone should be “the person who accepts chance as worthy ofdetermining her fate”49.As a society, we should see chance andcontingency as worthy of determining our political institutions andactions. This account of justification, which denies the possibility ofrealizing the neutral, ahistorical and absolutely valid premises neededby the foundationalist enterprise, abandons the foundationalistparadigm of justification and is content with seeing our deepestcommitments as the result of a particular historical causation.We cannot assume that liberals ought to be able to rise abovethe contingencies of history and see the kind of individualfreedom which the modern liberal state offers it citizens asjust one more value . . . Only the assumption that there is somesuch standpoint to which we might rise gives sense to thequestion, “If one’s convictions are only relatively valid, thenwhy stand for them unflinchingly”50.To say that convictions are only “relatively valid” might seemto mean that they can only be justified to people who holdcertain other beliefs - not to anyone and everyone. But if thiswere what is meant, the term would have no contrastiveforce, for there would be no interesting statements whichwere absolutely valid.51The problem that remains is the issue of commitment. Why shouldpersons who believe that their commitments are simply the product of‘ RRorty, Ibid., p.51.Rorty, Ibid., p. 50.51 RRorty, Ibid., p.47.Chapter one, section three Page 20the ‘blind impress’ of causation be willing to die for theircommitments? Rorty’s solution is complex, but the first move is toremove the problem from the old paradigm of justification, wheresuch a vetting of our commitments appears to be a naturalrequirement of practical reasoning, and rephrase the issue in hishistoricist vocabulary. Rorty suggests that the ‘problem of relativism’,commitment to beliefs that are only justifiable in relation to avocabulary, disappears when one drops the paradigm of justificationthat requires foundational, trans-vocabularic beliefs in order to justifycommitment.there is no such thing as the relativist predicament, just asfor someone who thinks that there is no God there will be nosuch thing as blasphemy. For there will be no higherstandpoint to which we are responsible and against whoseprecepts we might offend”52.Given this paradigm of justification change, Sidgwick’s fundamentalmoral premise, for example, can be interpreted as true (because itappears true in the language-game), but not self-evidently true (whenthat means neutral, ahistorical and absolutely valid), or, perhaps,simply uninterestingly true. Interesting normative positions are foundat the level of ‘first and second-order’ desires, the types of desires thatinform action, but Sidgwick’s normative claim, that happiness is thegoal of human action, could be called uninteresting because it is tooabstract, and thereby does not have any ‘mediating power’ in ourchoices of action.52 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 50.Chapter one, section three Page 21But Davidson is assuming-- rightly, I think-- that the onlycandidates for such highest-level desires are so abstract andempty as to have no mediating powers... Because what willcount as ‘good” and “rational’ [‘happy”] or “true’ will bedetermined by the contest between the first- and second-level desires, wistful top-level protestations of goodwill areimpotent to intervene in that context53.This claim about ‘interesting’ beliefs seems to draw a distinctionbetween first and second-order normative and what we might callmeta-normative beliefs. What Rorty wants to delineate is the division oflabour that these different classes of normative beliefs perform. As apragmatist, he is hoping to draw our attention away from the metanormative beliefs, which he believes do not inform our actions, andrefocus our attention onto the first and second-order normative beliefsthat do inform our actions, or, in pragmatist terms, do most of thework. The question of whether these more abstract beliefs do somework is explored in the final section of chapter three. For Sidgwick,these meta-normative beliefs are required to commit one to onemorality rather than another, and thereby these meta-normativebeliefs do have some work to do. Rorty’s reasons for thinking thatthese beliefs do not have a job to do stems from his rejection of theparadigm of justification that has a role for such beliefs. However,when the pragmatic consideration of maintaining liberal institutions iscombined the presence of a population accustomed to expecting suchjustifications, the shift in justificatory practices becomes moreR. Rorty, Ibid., p. 49.Chapter one, section three Page 22problematic. We will be able to sharpen this point in the final sectionof chapter three.Hilary Putnam54 is not quick to agree that Rorty has overcomethe problems of relativism. The argument will be thoroughly addressedin chapter two.Rorty thinks that culture should be “poeticized”55 rather thanrationalized.I also said that literature and politics are the spheres towhich contemporary intellectuals look when they worry aboutends rather than means. I can now add the corollary thatthese are the areas to which we should look for a charter of aliberal society. We need a redescription of liberalism as thehope that culture as a whole can be “poeticized” rather than,as the Enlightenment hoped, that it can be “rationalized” or“scientized”56.As an example of how the foundational program has become animpediment to the progress of liberal institutions, Rorty takes sometime examining three important thinkers in political morality:Foucault; Habermas and Dworkin. Each of them, in one way or another,is under the spell of the justificatory system that Sidgwick exemplifiedand which Rorty believes should now be dropped. Foucault is an“ironist without being a liberal”, Dworkin and Habermas-are ‘liberal[s]unwilling to be... ironist[s]”57 Rorty criticizes each of these theoristsHilary Putnam Why cant Reason be Naturalized?, After Philosophy: End orTransformation eds. K. Baynes, J. Bobman and T. Mccarthy. MIT press, cambridge, 1987. p. 233.R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 53.Rorty, Ibid., p. 53.Chapter one, section four Page 23for their reliance on metanarratives. The merits of Rortys critique ofthese theorists is best evaluated after the issue, discussed in chapterthree, of whether Rorty, as a pragmatist, is committed to ametanarrative despite his repudiation of such an idea. We will turn tohis critique of these theorists in chapter four.The foundationalist liberal, and methods in that tradition, are togive way to the ironist liberal. Rortys project requires that we stopasking for a metaphysics or a metanarrative that underwrites ouracceptance, or in Foucault’s case, our rejection of liberal institutions.4] Rorty the Anti-epistemologist -- Ironist TheorizingRorty is an ironist theorizer. ‘The goal of ironist theory is tounderstand the metaphysical urge, the urge to theorize, so well thatone becomes entirely free of it”58. He “wants a way of seeing [his] pastwhich is incommensurable with all the ways in which the past hasdescribed itself’59. The “Plato-Kant canon”60 is responsible for themethod of justification that attempts to ground liberal institutionsupon necessities. To overcome this model Rorty must not succumb tothe metaphysical urge to affiliate his position “with a non-humanpower”61.He cannot, for example, side with the realists and claimthat justification talk’ can be reduced to certain physical processesthat science will eventually help us to explicate. To do so would‘dMnize’ the world. For the same anti-metaphysical reasons he cannot57R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 65.58R Rorty, Ibid., p. 96-97.R Rorty, Ibid., p. 101.60R Rorty, Ibid., p. 96.61 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 97.Chapter one, section four Page 24adopt a form of idealism and divinize’ consciousness. Both approacheswould leave Rorty in the shadow of great redescribers’ or greatphilosophers of the past. Rorty believes that ironist theorists mustredescribe the redescribers of the past, “if he is to become their equalrather than their epigone”62Rorty does not think that idealism or realism will do. Realism holdsthat ‘there is some way that world is’, but questions arise when we tryto recognize that ‘true nature. Rorty objects to realism on a variety ofgrounds, not least of which being the problem of recognizing when wehave a bonaficle example of “the way that the world is”. Since heholds that we are “incarnated vocabularies”, it remains open to ask, atall times, whether our perception of the world is ever independent ofour cognition, or, to put it in his terms, our vocabulary. To say that wesee a ‘mountain’ is already to be in the realm of the cognitive, and it isdifficult to see how anything non-cognitive can underwrite ourcognitions. If ‘raw sense data’ is non-cognitive, then it cannotunderwrite our cognitions, and if it is already cognitive, then we havenot escaped the realm of vocabulary, cognitions, or, as Bishop Berkeleywould put it, ‘ideas”, and thereby we do not have a bonafide exampleof the world underwriting our beliefs or cognitions. We are in the‘cognicentric’ predicament and no privileged representations can getus out of it63.Idealism, can be seen as a response to these problems with realism.62 R Rorty, Ibid., p. 103.63 R. Rorty, PIuiosopliy and tke Mtrror of Nature, Princeton University Press, 1979, especiallypp. 165-2 10.Chapter one, section four Page 25The world is ‘my beliefs about it’; ‘to be is to be believed’; ‘to be is to bein my vocabulary’. The response to the problems of realism has itsproblems too. If the world has such a dependence on my cognitions,can we generate a robust enough conception of the non-self, includingboth the ‘world’ and other selves? Without Berkeley’s ‘God in theQuad’, idealism has only the beliefs of the individual and theindividuals beliefs about the communities’ beliefs to use as a means toan account of ‘proper commitment to beliefs’. While the use ofcounterfactuals and hypothetical constructions can remedy some ofthe counterintuitive aspects of this view, eliminating any authorityoutside of the individual’s first-person experience is a recipe forsliding into solipsism. For if we are true to the slogan ‘to be is to beperceived’, then even the community is a construction out of theresources of the first-person experiences of the individual. Instead ofsimply maintaining that the authority for belief is internal to the realmof the cognitive, the [non-theistic] idealist must internalize authorityinside the individual altogether. While this leaves open tests ofcoherence, and thereby some sort of appearance/reality distinction,the question of whether such individuals inhabit a common worldalways remains open.Skeptics use the metaphysical framework developed by idealistsand realists to show the defects of each position and conclude that theattempt to prove ‘what really exists’ is doomed. The epistemologicalpositions that respond to the metaphysical framework ofidealism/realism respond to the skeptic in various ways, some moresuccessful than others. For our purposes it is not necessary to evaluateChapter one, section four Page 26the merits of these attempts. Critics of Rorty have been quick to locatehim in this tradition, and in particular, they argue that his positionmust be a variation of idealism, since it is not realist. 64 is anoption that he is committed to rejecting65.Rorty claims to have superceded the realist/idealist metaphysicalframework, and the related epistemologies, and in doing so, leavingthe skeptic behind too. However, if critics such as Charles Taylor66still find Rorty to be trapped within this tradition, perhaps a clearerstatement of the ‘Pragmatist’ epistemology is in order. Taylor writes,the inescapability of certain philosophical issues... theconsiderations that I have been advancing suggest that thismove is far from being a liberation. Just trying to walk awayfrom the old [metaphysics and] epistemology, withoutworking out an alternative conception, seems paradoxically aformula for remaining trapped in it to some degree... thosewho ignore philosophy are condemned to relive it”67We will return to this issue, whether Rorty can somehow escape fromthe realist/idealist framework in chapter three. Although some of thehistorical associations with these labels may be rejected, Rorty mustchoose between a vocabulary that has the resources to describe64 c• Taylor, Rorty in the Epistemological Tradition, Reading Rorty, ed. A. Malachowski,Oxford, Blackwell, 1990, p. 264.65 R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.,1979, p.27666 C. Taylor, Rorty in the Epistemological Tradition, Reading Rorty, ed. A. Malachowski,Oxford, Blackwell, 1990, p. 273.67 C. Taylor, Rorty in the Epistemological Tradition, Reading Rorty, ed. A. Malachowski,Oxford, Blackwell, 1990, p. 274.Chapter one, section five Page 27something sufficiently contrasting our cognitive states, the world, ornot. If not, then he will have a cognitixrism, or a vocabularism, thatpresents problems for his pragmatism. If he allows for a world,something that sufficiently contrasts our cognitive states, then thisworld must have a use, and that use will allow a thin epistemicrelation. This choice is a central issue in section one and two inchapter three.51 The incommensurability of vocabularies“Language speaks man”68: there is no higher ground than ourtemporary languages.there is no standpoint outside the particular and historicallyconditioned and temporary vocabulary we are presently usingfrom which to judge this vocabulary.., giving us the idea thatintellectual or political progress is rational, in any sense of“rational” that is neutral between vocabularies69.From the materials of our present vocabulary, there is no meansavailable to tell a story about why our vocabulary is more rational, or‘gets things right’ as compared to other vocabularies. Human beingsare ‘incarnated vocabularies’70,or ‘sentential attitudes’7’and wecannot escape our vocabularies to judge our vocabularies.speaking a language... is not a trait a man can lose whileretaining the power of thought. So there is no chance thatsomeone can take up a vantage point for comparing68 R. Rorty,Corttirtgency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 50.69 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 48.Rorty. Ibid., p. 80.71 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 88.Chapter one, section five Page 28conceptual schemes by temporarily shedding his own72.We cannot ask if one language game is more rational than another,since rationality is relative to the conditions that are put in place by avocabulary, and ranking vocabularies would presuppose that we hadaccess to a meta-language game or something extra-vocabularic whichcould serve as the criteria for such a ranking. There is no ‘prelinguistic consciousness’ against which which language-games must beadequate73.Nor is there a ‘World’ that speaks a language that must beobeyed by our language-games. We are left with our capacity todescribe, but the world does not “provide us with any criterion ofchoice between alternative metaphors”.74Any position that lets anon-intentional system be regulative of an intentional system falls preyto the ‘Enlightenment Hangover’; the attempt to underwrite humanprojects with a non-human authority.75 “The world does not speak.Only we do.”76 When we speak for it, we cannot produce a metalanguage that allows us to rank the merits of other vocabularies. If wecould, then we would be on our way to finding an evaluative systemthat would let us rank different vocabularies.By “commensurable” I mean able to be brought under a set ofrules which will tell us how rational agreement can bereached on what would settle the issue on every point wherestatements seem to conflict. These rules tell us how to72 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 50.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 21.74R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 21.75R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 52.76 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 6.Chapter one, section six Page 29construct an ideal situation, in which all residualdisagreements will be seen to be “noncognitive” or merelyverbal, or else merely temporary- capable of being resolvedby doing something further. What matters is that there shouldbe agreement about what would have to be done if a resolutionwere to be achieved. In the meantime the interlocutors canagree to differ - being satisfied of each other’s rationality thewhile.77Rorty rejects the idea that we can produce such a scheme ofevaluation, whether out of the resources of vocabularies, or fromfinding some extra-vocabularic ground upon which comparison ispossible. Therefore our vocabularies, our historically conditioned waysof speaking and thinking are, at least in some ways, incommensurable.6] Self-creationPhilosophers have traditionally searched for continuities, universalsand context-transcending truths. Rorty sides with the Nietzscheanidea that ‘finding a single context for human lives is to beabandoned’.78 Instead of following the philosopher, we are to look tothe poet, and aim for freedom rather than truth79. In vocabularicterms, this amounts to creating one’s own language. Self-creation is tobe understood in terms of changing the vocabulary that we have beenprogrammed with by causation’s ‘blind impress’. “We revise our moralR. Rorty, Philosophy arid the Mirror ofNature.Op Cit., p. 316.78 R. Rorty,Coritirigertcy, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 27.R. Rorty, Thid., p. 27.Chapter one, section six Page 30identity by revising our final vocabulary.”80Those of us who feel theconscious desire to be autonomous may feel a form of Heideggerianguilt; that is, “guilty because his final vocabulary is made by thepast’81.Those who hope to be autonomous, to be the the ‘cause ofourselves’, must scrutinize our ‘final vocabularies’ or the ‘elementalwords’82 that make us who we are. This is not a metaphysical inquiryinto the nature of “the Self’: “These elemental words reveal usbecause they made us but they are not revealers of anything else”83.When we are choosing between different final vocabularies, “there isnothing beyond vocabulary which serves as a choice between them”84.Metaphor creation is a way to alter the influence of the finalvocabulary that we have inherited, but we begin with the literal.“Common sense”, for Rorty, is described as “dead metaphors”85:Once the freshness wears off of the metaphor, you have plain,literal, transparent language... ideas so clear and distinct, youcan look right through them... (Honoured in the abstract butforgotten in the particular)86.Common sense and literal language have important uses, includingbeing a means to metaphor creation. But if we remain the product ofthe vocabulary we have inherited, then we cannot be autonomous.80 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 80.81 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 109.82 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 117.Ibid p.117.Rorty, Ibid., p. 80.85 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 152.Rorty, Ibid., p. 152.Chapter one, section six Page 31Metaphors are unfamiliar uses of old words, but such uses areonly possible against the background of other old words beingused in old familiar ways. A language which was “all metaphor”would be a language which had no use... Every sparklingmetaphor requires a lot of stodgy literal talk to serve as itsfoil87.Against the background of the literal, the commonsensical, theindividual interested in autonomy, in self-creation, can use ‘narrativein relation to the past rather than a real essence”88 and work on an“unconscious need everyone has- to come to grips with the blindimpress which chance has given him”89. Theorists will “redescribebig things from a distance”90 and those interested in self-creation, inother words, those who attempt “.autonomy spend their livesreworking-- hoping to trace the blind impress home and so, inNietszche’s phrase -- become who they are”91, will focus on the littlethings that have caused their actions.The only thing that makes heroic action or splendid speechpossible is some very specific chains of association with somehighly idiosyncratic memories...In the pursuit of autonomy, an individual will, for example, “redescribethe people who describe him”92, which will be useful for87RRojd p.41.88 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 101.Rorty, Ibid., p. 43.Rorty, Ibid., p. 100.91 R. Rorty, Ibid.. p. 141.92 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 102.Chapter one, section six Page 32“temporalizing and finitizing”93 the grip that particular authorityfigures can have on an individual. Some will carry through the attemptto create a new self by writing a bildungsroman about their oldself.”94. In this process of coming to grips with the blind impress,self-creators are not surmounting time and chance and findingsomething timeless underneath the causal imprint that their historyhas given them. Instead, they are “using time and chance”95 to leadthem to a better description of the contingencies which have shapedthem. As there is nothing outside vocabularies which identifies the‘right’ description, the goal of ‘private perfection’ is a series ofredescriptions which “turned other people from [Proust’s] judges intohis fellow sufferers, and thus succeeded in creating the taste by whichhe judged himself’96. ‘Better’ descriptions are ones which help eachof us redescribe those who have described us. If self-creators aresufficiently historicist, they will finitize authority figures “not bydetecting what they “really” were but by watching them becomedifferent than what they had been, and by seeing how they lookedwhen redescribed in terms offered by still other authority figures,whom [they] play off against the first”97.In terms of the Kantian autonomy/heteronomy distinction, none ofus can be autonomous, since, for Rorty, and unlike for Kant, there isno ‘Self behind our web of beliefs and desires. In a representativeR. Rorty, Ibid., p. 103.94RRorty,Thici., p. 119.95RRorty,Thici., p.99.R Rorty, Ibid., p. 103.97R. Rorty. Ibid., p. 103.Chapter one, section six Page 33Rortian move, once the metaphysical idea of an transcendent self iseliminated, one is left with the view that there is a kind of autonomyin an escape from a particular, historical conditioned heteronomy bythe individualized, and in this de-metaphysicalized sense, autonomous,capacity to redescribe. To put it in different, but causal terms, one canbecome autonomous by redescribing and, in that way, reducing thecausal force that others, and their vocabularies, can exert upon us. Asan example, Rorty chooses Proust.All he wanted to do was get out from under finite powers bymaking their finitude evident.., free himself from thedescriptions of himself offered by people he met... Proustbecame autonomous by explaining to himself why the otherswere not authorities, but simply fellow contingencies. Heredescribed them as being as much a product of othersattitudes towards them as Proust himself was a product oftheir attitudes towards him.. .the result of all of thisfinitization was to make Proust unashamed of his ownfinitude.. 98In this sense, Rorty believes that Proust is to be preferred to a writerwho is unsatisfied with contingency. As a contrast, Rorty considersPhilip Larkin, who believes that “one might get more satisfaction out offinding a blind impress which applied riot only to “one man once” but,rather, to all human beings”99.Larkin is unsatisfied with anidiosyncratic ‘lading list’ of his blind impress because his expectationshave been shaped by the ambitions of the “Greek philosophers, still98R Rorty, Ibid., p. 102-103.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 26.Chapter one, section six Page 34later the empirical scientists and later still the German idealists”00.Larkin looks for “a lading list which was a copy of the universe’s ownlist.., to know the truth”0’. Proust is satisfied with the freedom andautonomy that he finds in redescription.In a Nietzschean mode, Rorty paraphrases the reasons why heprefers the activity of Proust over the ambitions of Larkin.His perspectivism amounted to the claim that the universehad no lading list to be known, no determinate length... hewould have created the only part of himself that mattered byconstructing his own mind. To create one’s mind is to createone’s own language, rather than to let the length of one’smind be set by the language other human beings have leftbehind... Nietzsche did not abandon the idea of discoveringthe causes of our being what we are. He did not give up theidea that an individual might track home the blind impressthat all of his behavings bore. He only rejected that thistracking was a process of discovery.., he saw self-knowledgeas self-creation... confronting one’s contingency, trackingone’s causes home, is identical with the process of inventinga new language - that is, of thinking up some new metaphors.For any Ltterat description of one’s individuality, which is tosay any use of an inherited language-game for this purpose,will necessarily fail... So the only way to trace home the causesof one’s being as one is would be to tell a story about one’sRorty, Ibid., p. 26.101 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 27.Chapter one, section six Page 35causes in a new language’02.Larkin, and the traditional truth-seeking philosophers that herepresents are trying to break “out of the world of time, appearanceand idiosyncratic opinion ... into the world of enduring truth” 103•Nietzsche and Rorty think that the “important boundary to cross is notthe one separating time from atemporal truth but rather the onewhich divides the old from the new”°4.The hope of such a poet is that what the past tried to do toher she will succeed in doing to the past: to make the pastitself, including those very causal processes which blindlyimpressed all her own behavings, bear her impress... “givingbirth to oneself’105Self-creation is linked to metaphor creation because “[t]he person whouses words as they have never been used before is best able toappreciate her own contingency” 106 She can see that “her language isas contingent as her parents... she can see the force of the claim that“truth is a mobile army of metaphors” because, by her own sheerstrength, she has broken out of one perspective, one metaphoric, intoanother” 107• Those who are capable of producing metaphors are poetsand some become strong poets.The line between weakness and strength is thus the line102 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 27-28.103 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 29.104 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 29.105 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 29.‘06R Rorty, Ibid., p. 28.‘°7R Rorty, Ibid., p. 28.Chapter one, section six Page 36between using language which is familiar and universal andproducing language which, although initially unfamiliar andidiosyncratic, somehow makes tangible the blind impress allone’s behavings bear. With luck -- the sort of luck whichmakes the difference between genius and eccentricity-- thatlanguage will also strike the next generation as inevitable.Their behavings will bear that impress108.This Romantic vision of our capacity to give birth to ourselvesappears to suffer from an essentialist view of the ‘self, and posits anexpressive relation between the ‘core self and the product of thecapacity to redescribe, the ‘created self. But Rorty’s anti-essentialismis at odds with this picture. He says “Freud thus helps us take seriouslythe possibility that there is no central faculty, no central self, called“reason”°9.Freud does not “see humanity as a natural kind with anintrinsic nature”0and helps Rorty “get rid of the last citadel ofnecessity... to abjure the attempt to divinize the self as a replacementfor a dhrinized world”111 Self-creation is a process of invention, notdiscovery. This process of invention and creation should not beconflated with the Romantic idea of language expressing the essentialnature of the self.In chapter three we will have reason to question whether Rorty’svocabulary can get along without a core self. He claims that there is nothing as the self itself, and that our natures are contingent all the way108 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 29.109 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 33.110 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 35.RRorty,Ibid., p.35.Chapter one, section six Page 37down. However, can Rorty remain a pragmatist without some view ofwhat is presupposed by the idea of practicality? That question willhelp frame a critique of Rortys rejection of a metanarrative of the self.71 Rorty’s vocabulary; a summaryWe can see that Rorty’s systematic arguments against any form ofessentialism block foundationalist arguments that ground theirexplanation/justification of human actions and practices on thepurported real natures of the self, language or reality. The self is not anatural kind with an intrinsic nature; Reality/The World itself is notknowable; and language is not accountable to either the world or theself and thus does not function, as it did in Enlightenment models, asa ‘medium’. Prescriptively, Rorty believes that the activity ofredescribing should be entirely unfettered in the private realm of self-creation. In the public sphere, however, redescription has lessapplication since solidarity is the goal and liberal institutions are themeans.As a pragmatist, Rorty’s political goal is to preserve liberalinstitutions:Such fragile, flawed institutions, the creation of the last threehundred years, are humanity’s most preciousachievements. .[the best means]... to Rawis’ two principles...possible that they may vanish by the year 2100... nothing toprevent the future from being, as Orwell said, “a bootstamping down on a human face forever’T Nothing is moreimportant than the preservation of these liberalinstitutions.’12Chapter one, section six Page 38Yet as an anti-foundationalist, he is aware that our liberal institutionsare only an historical product of a description about the ‘best way tolive together’. There is no way to refute competing answers to thatquestion. This awareness is the mark of the liberal ironist.This would mean giving up the idea that liberalism could bejustified, and Nazi or Marxist enemies of liberalism refuted,by driving the latter up an argumentative wall-- forcing themto admit that liberalism has a “moral privilege” which theirown values lacked. . . any attempt to drive one’s opponent upagainst a wall fails when the wall against he is driven comes tobe seen as one more vocabulary, one more way of describingthings’ 13The delicate condition of the liberal ironist is the problem of beingcommitted while believing in the contingency of all of one’scommitments. Rorty says that there is nothing more important thanthese institutions, but he can only give a circular response to thequestion “Why do you believe that there is nothing more importantthan these institutions?”The idea of “essences” has been eliminated. The self has nofixed nature; the world is a constellation of random causes; there is no‘expressive’ relation between the self and its language, nor is there anyrepresentational relation between the world and the self. Language isthe effect of a “blind impress” and can no longer be held hostage to112 R Rorty, Thugs and Theorists: A reply to Bernstein”, Pojitical Theory vol. 15, no. 4, Nov.1987, p. 567.113 R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Op Cit., p. 53.Chapter one, section six Page 39that blindness. Language, contingent as it is, becomes the determinantrather than the determined. Rorty is able to set aside the idea thatboth the self and reality have intrinsic natures’114We turn now to the issues arising within Rorty’s paradigm ofjustification. What is Rorty’s account of proper commitment to abelief?114 R.Rorty,Ibid., p.11.Chapter two, section one Page 40Chapter Two: Authority; Enlightenment and HistoricistIn this chapter, an section summary will be provided for eachsection.(1] AuthoritySection SummaryThe role of an account of proper commitment tobelief, i.e. of true belief states, is set within a brief account ofstandard and ironical action. What account of propercommitment to a belief does Rorty hold? Against Rorty, thefoundationalist metaphysicians countenance art authoritywhich rules on which beliefs are true and which false that ismetaphysical in the sense that it is taken to exist outside ourvocabularies-- an authority which is neither states of agentsnor their actions.Historicist theories of justification respond to theFoundationalist’s treatment of transcendent, authoritativeconcepts such as reality and reason in either a moderate orextreme way. The moderate way holds that while reason, forexample, is always immanent in particular systems, it is stillnot reducible to that immanence since it has someproperties which transcend any particular historicallyinduced expression of it. The extreme historicist position,on the other hand, would take reason as something that isreducible to what particular historical communitiesproduce’.Extreme Historicism takes a piece of vocabulary ashaving a role only within the vocabulary of which it is a part.That role is determined by unique historical forces whichshaped the vocabulary in which it functions. An account of1 This distinction between moderate arid extreme historicism is based on one that AlasdairMaclntyre uses to distinguish himself from Rorty. Maclntyre, on this interpretation, would be amoderate historicist. Thank you to Prof. ED. Rand for pointing this article out to me. AlasdairMacintyre, Moral Arguments and Social Contexts: A response to Rorty Hermerteutics andPraxis ed. R. Hollinger, University of Noire Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana, 1985. p. 222-223.Chapter two, section one Page 41the role of a piece of vocabulary must, for this view, be interms of its relation solely to other pieces of that samevocabulary. Otherwise its particular and unique historicalnature is lost and it has no other.moderate Historicism, in contrast, such as it appearsin the work of Alasdair Maclntyre2 allows that a piece ofvocabulary may have role which is found in even radicallydifferent historical situations. A role which exists in onevocabulary may be found identical in others. Even though thatrole may have some “local” difference there may exist, as amatter of fact, an identity of roles or functions among manyvocabularies. History is not unique and neither arevocabularies or their parts.On the Extreme Historicist position, if it is not to bejust a contingent possibility, i.e., as a matter of fact a piece ofvocabulary has a role which is unique, a role found in onlyone vocabulary, must be resting on some idea of theuniqueness of each vocabulary and the roles within them.This is, as Putnam will show, solipsism in through the frontdoor. In short, he wonders why one would occupythemselves with Extreme Historicism if its really onlyHistorical Uniqueness (Induplicability) which is thecounterpart of first person uniqueness (my pain can never beyours equals my history can never be yours).The problems with the extreme historicist picture,which will be sharpened in section two of this chapter, willallow us to present Rorty with a difficult choice. If Rorty is anextreme historicist, then he will find it difficult to give acoherent account of his view of irony. If he is a moderatehistoricist, the possibility of a metanarrative emerges.Setting up this problem requires us to first clarify theimplications of these two forms of historicism. We turn tothat task now.2 Alasdair Maclntyre, Moral Arguments arid Social Contexts: A response to RortyHei-merteutics artcl Praxis ed. R. Hollinger, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana,1985. p. 222-223 and elsewhere.Chapter two, section one Page 42Rortys account of proper commitment to cognitive statesthat function in action is examined by using the Foundationalistmodel as a contrasting picture. The older view requires arepresentational relation between justified cognitive states and anexternal authority.The foundationalist picture understands that this external authorityfor our beliefs was not itself an aspect of some larger agent-- theauthority was taken to be extensional, truly altogether outside thebelief realm and its effects. Nevertheless the foundationalist’sauthority, while not itself agency-like (in non-theistic models) had tohave, as the passive authority of our beliefs, just those propertieswhich our proper beliefs were to have. How else could a non-agencyauthority function except as a (passive) model? And since the agencylay with us our role as belief-formers was to represent that passiveauthority. This was the nature and role of the world as authority.The Foundational picture was not however constrained to seeauthority for our beliefs existing solely in what was passively externalto us. Kant3 showed us that the nature of reason could be (at leastpart of) the authority. This was still consistent with theEnlightenment’s main tenet that the authority was external to ourbeliefs - in Kant’s case in the very forms of beliefs themselves,whatever their historically derived differences. The world and thestructure by which it would be necessarily shaped is the authority forJohnathan Bennett, Kant’s Analytic, Cambridge University Press, 1966, P. 107-111.Immanuel Kant, Of the Difference Between Pure and Empirical Knowledge, Critique ofPureReason, reprinted in The Speculative Philosophers, S. Commins & R. Linscotti, Random House,1947, esp. pp. 423-440.Chapter two, section one Page 43proper beliefs according to Kant.The Foundational model requires an authority that comes from apicture of a relational sort between our beliefs and their extra-beliefjustifiers, and so is engaged in a foundationalism connecting us to theworld, as in realism, or to our sensory experiences, as in empiricism.The model uses the external authority of the non-cognitive, the worldor raw sense-data, as the authority for the cognitive.Rorty’s historicist picture, however, rejects the idea thatjustification could aim for an external authority that transcends aparticular historical condition and therefore any particular historical“vocabulary”. Rorty’s remark that ‘truth is a property of sentences’ is,then, to be taken to mean that it is now somewhere withinvocabularies that the authority for distinguishing true from false beliefsand/or utterances exists. Truth is a property of sentences; sentencesdepend for their existence on vocabularies; communities [we] makevocabularies, and therefore ‘we’ [the community] make truth, writesRorty4. Since communities are contingent products of time andchance, we should see that truth is also contingent. Instead of using anEnlightenment relation between the cognitive and the non-cognitive,beliefs and an external authority, Rorty prefers an authority within therealm of the cognitive; the authority for beliefs is found in ‘what mypeers believe’, in short, an internal authority. This rejection of anexternal authority and the acceptance of an internal authority for beliefis the “historicist” strain in Rorty’s position.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1989, p.7.Chapter two, section one Page 44This Enlightenment picture lends itself to an ahistoricalfoundationalism. In contrast, all historicists reject atemporal truth.Within historicism, two positions will be identified. In an extremeposition our cognitive states and their related vocabularies aretaken to be historically unique and impossible to evaluate on thebasis of any trans-historical standards. There will not be a singleauthority which transcends particular historical vocabularies;rather, many authorities will exist, each independently embeddedin its historical or contingent vocabulary setting, each ruling withinits historical context. A moderate historicism allows that althoughvocabularies may emerge from different historical situations theyare each nevertheless vocabularies in the sense that they may play apart in a scheme of commensuration which allows the evaluation ofdifferent historically conditioned vocabularies.Rorty is not meeting the foundational project head-on; he believesthat “. .a talent for speaking differently, rather than arguing well, is thechief instrument of cultural change”5 , yet there is a parallel betweenhis program and the Foundational program that seems to undercut theimpression Rorty gives that the two projects are incommensurable.Both programs give an explanation of proper commitment to beliefs.Suppose that we take commitment6to be that threshold state ofR. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989,p.7.6 s•c Coval arid P.G. Campbell, Agency in Action; The practical, Rational Agency Machine,Kiuwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1992Chapter two, section one Page 45causal readiness which characterizes beliefs or desires (or othercognitive states) which are believed by the agent, ceterts paribus,tohave the right properties to contribute causally through an intention torelevant action.The Foundational program gives an account of commitment from apicture of a relational sort between our beliefs and their justifiers. Theaccount is metaphysical because the authority for our beliefs is notwithin our vocabularies, but is taken to exist independently of ourdescriptions of it. The properties of this external authority are just theproperties of our proper beliefs. Commitment is proper if the beliefs,desires and/or other cognitive states functioning in action have theproperty of re-presenting, or as Rorty would put it, mirroring, theproperties of these external authorities.Rorty writes that the metaphysical view, sketched above, savesthe intuition that ‘truth is out there’ by personifying the world,making it “something we ought to respect as well as cope with,something personlike in that it has a preferred description ofitself’7 Rorty thinks that this metaphorical understanding of theworld is something that we can supercede if we stop worshippingthese “dead metaphors”8.Perhaps on some extreme pantheisticviews the external authority for belief really did have agency-likeproperties, but the secular revolution of the Enlightenmenteschewed such a picture of the authority for our beliefs and saw theexternal authority as passive. It was our job to form truerepresentations, or accurate mirrorings of that passive external7R. Rorty, Op cit., 1989, p. 21.8R Rorty, Op cit., 1989, p. 21.Chapter two, section one Page 46authority.Kant thought that the authority for our beliefs did not exist solely inwhat was passively external to us9. He thought that the nature ofreason could be at least part of the authority. But in saying this, he didnot depart from the main feature of the Foundational/Enlightenment’spicture of the authority for our beliefs being external to our beliefs. Ifthe very form of beliefs themselves was a part of their authority, thenthe externality of the authority for beliefs remains intact in Kant’sviews. The world and the structure by which it would be necessarilyshaped remain external to our agency, providing, as they do, thenecessary conditions for our agency.Rorty’s anti-metaphysical position is that there is no singleauthority (such as the World, Nature, Reality, God, events and the Self)that we can interpret as the Authority to justify our beliefs, desiresand/or other cognitive states. Since such metaphysical sources ofauthority are external to beliefs and their expression in vocabularies,they could be used in a scheme of commensuration which would allowus to judge all ‘vocabularies’, all of the different ways of speaking thathumans have developed. Rorty believes this form of justification, thisattempt to ground our Imowledge claims on a single metaphysical orexternal authority, entails a belief in the existence of a ‘metanarrative’,an ur-vocabulary to which all vocabularies are accountable. InsteadRorty thinks that we must see everything about ourselves, includingJohnathan Bennett, Kant’s Analytic, Cambridge University Press, 1966, p. 107-111.Chapter two, section one Page 47our most fundamental beliefs, as contingent products of time andchance. Notions such as the ‘world’ and the ‘self cannot function asindicative of an ahistorical necessity, authority or foundation.Metanarratives like the correspondence theory of truth, or anyother form of representationalism, must be superseded and replacedwith a vocabulary-relative10view of truth. If theFoundational/Enlightenment view holds that full commitment to abelief requires, for some beliefs at least, a representational relationbetween beliefs and their external justifiers, then what is thecontrasting picture that Rorty offers?Historicist theories of justification, while keeping some accountof how agents are (should be) committed to their beliefs, respond tothe Foundational/Enlightenment’s transcendent, regulative”concepts in either a ‘moderate’ or ‘extreme’ way. The moderate wayholds that while such concepts are immanent in particular systems,they are still not reducible to that immanence since they can haveproperties which transcend any particular historically inducedexpression of them12. The extreme historicist position would take,10 Keeping in mind Rortys disavowal of the relativist predicament, it remains true of Rortythat only sentences are ‘true and that sentences depend for their existence on vocabularies, andthat we make vocabularies. Therefore truth is relative to vocabularies. There are not ‘floating truepropositions’ which our particular sentences hope to express.Such concepts, like truth or reason, are transcendent insofar as they are not reducible toparticular, historical communities. They are found to occur across these communities. Theseconcepts are regulative insofar as they provide a means to criticize the practices of existingcommunities. Together, these features make committing the ‘naturalistic fallacy’ possible. Onecan say ‘X is good’, if X is approved by a given community, but if there are transcendent, regulativeconcepts available, one can always ask if the community is justified in thinking that ‘X is good’.12 See Alasdair Maclntyre, “Moral Arguments and Social Contexts: A response to Rorty”Hermeneutics and Praxis ed. R. Hollinger, University of Noire Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana,Chapter two, section one Page 48for example, reason as reducible to what particular historicalcommunities produce. In this discussion of morality, notice how Rortyundercuts the idea that justification can reach for a single authority.We can keep the morality-prudence distinction if we think ofit not as the difference between an appeal to theunconditioned and an appeal to the conditioned but as thedifference between an appeal to the interests of ourcommunity and the appeal to our own, possibly conflicting,private interests. The importance of this shift is that it makesit impossible to ask the question “Is ours a moral society?” Itmakes it impossible to think that there is something whichstands to my community as my community stands to me,some Larger community called “humanity” which has anintrinsic nature13 . [italics mine]This quotation suggests that Rorty wishes to keep commitmentfunctioning, but wishes to allow only the particular historicalcommunity itself to be the authority. It would also be the case that nocommon functions of different vocabularies could be found acrossdifferent vocabularies. If this is his position, then in the terminologythat we have been using, he is an extreme historicist. There will notbe any external [metaphysical] authority, nor any transcendentfunctions across vocabularies, available to underwrite our beliefs. Thepossibility of a metanarrative, a scheme of commensuration fordifferent vocabularies, seems to be eliminated too.1985. p. 222-223 for the use of this sort of distinction.13 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 59.Chapter two, section one Page 49Given Rorty’s anti-metanarrative position, there cannot be, in orderto give an account of “proper” commitment, or justification, an appealto something that transcends our particular historical condition, OnRorty’s historicist account, our final vocabularies are the fundamentalcognitive items, beliefs, that can be used to explain our actions. To saythat these cognitive items are fundamental is not to say that they arefoundational, for in Rorty’s analysis, they are fundamental becausethere is no means available to say why, in cognitive terms, these beliefsare central to the explanation of our actions. “(hf doubt is cast on theworth of these words, their user has no non-circular argumentativerecourse”14.If the beliefs were foundational, then there would be apicture of a relational sort between our beliefs and their justifiers, andRorty’s position does not allow a move which would “have humanprojects underwritten by a non-human authority”15, Rorty wants us toremain “the sort of person who faces up to the contingency of his orher most central beliefs and desires -- someone sufficiently historicistand nominalist to have abandoned the idea that those central beliefsand desires refer back to something beyond the reach of time andchance”16 In short, Rorty allows that some beliefs may befundamental but rejects the paradigm of justification which wouldpicture those beliefs as foundational, i.e. that they correspond to theintentional properties of a thing that is serving as the extra-vocabularicsource of external authority. “The fundamental premise of the book isthat a belief can still regulate action, can still be thought worth dyingRorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 73.15 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 52.‘6R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. xv.Chapter two, section one Page 50for, among people who are quite aware that this belief is caused bynothing deeper than contingent historical circumstance”17.Rorty wants the ‘world’ and causation to function in his views andavoid Idealism. As a pragmatist, he requires the idea of ‘works’, as in‘this approach works better’ or ‘this vocabulary works’. Can ‘works’ bepurely described within vocabularic terms? How do you explaincommitment to a vocabulary without some idea of a sufficientlycontrasting realm to the cognitive? We will take up this issue, alongwith Bernard Williams,18 in section four of this chapter, and carry it alittle further in chapter three. If there is nothing which stands to ‘mycommunity as my community stands to me’, then there is nothingoutside of ‘our communities’ beliefs’ that explains our individualcommitment to a vocabulary. Commitment will be a matter of ‘beingpersuaded according to the norms of justification that are used by myculture’. Note that our practices of justification cannot themselves beheld accountable to any higher source of authority. On this view,Justification is Authority, and there is no independent authority thatwe have available to evaluate and criticize our justification practices.The extreme historicist position, then, collapses the functions ofJustification and Authority. There is no room for the idea of justified,but still not true’ if we are to stay within the terms available in thisaccount.In Chapter Three it will be argued that justification is the proper17R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, P. 189.18 Bernard Williams, Auto-da-Fe: Consequences of Pragmatism, Reading Rorty, ed. A.Malachowski, Basil Blackwell, Cambridge, 1990, p. 31.Chapter two, section one Page 51process of belief formation. Yet, as we know, a belief may be formedaccording to the proper process-- justified-- but still not true, notunderwritten by Authority. Justification and Authority, it will beargued, must therefore be kept separate. We know of proper beliefformation that its causal history may include other belief and othercognitive states as well as non-cognitive states. We also know thatproper belief formation, or what is, I believe, called justification, isrestricted to the first of the above historical materials: the properformation of belief is by other beliefs. Note that the extreme historicistposition, however, denies that there are two separate functions here atwork. We will have reason to question whether collapsing these twofunctions will cohere with an account of pragmatism in section one ofchapter three.In this chapter, we will have an opportunity to see why Rorty isfaced with a difficult choice between giving up his antimetanarrative stance or accepting the problematic consequences ofthe extreme historicist position. In defense of Rorty, it will beargued that conceding a metanarrative, being a moderate ratherthan extreme historicist, will clear up many of the problems thatRorty’s critics have advanced’9.We have seen that both the Foundationalist/Enlightenmenttheorists and Rorty address the issue of what constitutes an account ofproper commitment to beliefs. For theFoundationalist/Enlightenment, this issue is a matter of metaphysicalauthorities and epistemological questions of how to best represent19 In particular, Bernard Williams.Chapter two, section one Page 52those authorities. For Rorty, dropping such external, metaphysicalauthorities is necessary. It remains to be seen, however, whether thehistoricism that Rorty adopts is of the extreme or moderate varieties.If extreme, then the authority for proper commitment to beliefs willbe found internal to historically situated agents and their practices. Weknow that Rorty rejects the Foundationalist/Enlightenment picture ofproper commitment to beliefs, and now we need to inquire whetherhis account is based on either Extreme or moderate historicism.Chapter two, section two Page 53[2] Relativism, Cultural Solipsism and PutnamSection SummaryHilary Putnam raises a problem for the extremehistoricist position. By drawing an analogy between extremehistoricism and methodological solipsism, Putnam shows thedifficulty of one culture speaking about another, except as alogical construction out of the resources of the host culture.This, we are reminded, is analogous to the predicament ofthe solipsist, who can only muster a logical construction ofother persons from the resources of the first-personperspective. The upshot of this problem for the extremehistoricist position is that it becomes inconsistent to say thattruth is relative to vocabularies, since we are unable to give arobust enough account of different vocabularies withoutabandoning the premises of extreme historicism. This‘culturally solipsistic’ consequence of eliminating anytranscendent concepts gives Rorty, and us, reason to look toa moderate form of historicism if we are to be historicists.Rorty is faced with the Hobson’s choice of giving up theelimination of metanarratives and accepting culturalsolipsism or, (the better alternative) accepting an historicisttranslation of transcendent concepts as his metanarrative. Aswe will see later, only the second alternative allows Rorty tokeep his idea of irony.Putnam writes, “I shall develop my argument in analogy with a well-known argument against “methodological solipsism”“20Methodological solipsism “holds that all of our talk can be reduced totalk about our experiences, and logical constructions out of ourexperiences”21.The problem, Putnam believes, is to keepmethodological solipsism from becoming solipsism proper. For how20 H. Putnam, Why Cant Reason be Naturalized’?, After PdIosophy: End or Transformationeds. K. Bayries, J. Bohman and T. McCarthy. MIT press, Cambridge, 1987, p. 230.21 H. Putnam, p. 230.Chapter two, section two Page 54can the methodological solipsist claim that “you, dear reader, are the“I” of this construction when you preform it”22? The extension of theperspective of methodological solipsism cannot be offered when westay true to the methodology of solipsism. Solipsism ‘implies anenormous asymmetry between persons... My experiences are differentfrom everyone else’s (within the system) in they are what everythingis constructed from. But this transcendental remark is all that issymmetrical”23.The only ‘you’ that the methodological solipsist canunderstand is the ‘you’ in the transcendental sense of extending themethod to everyone, but since everyone is a construction out of ourfirst person experiences, the ‘you’ referred to is empiricallyunintelligible.A symmetrical problem arises for the extreme historicist. Othercultures become constructions out of the host culture.In general, if R.R. understands every utterance p that he usesas meaning “it is true by the norms of American culture thatp”, then he must understand his own hermeneuticalutterances, the utterances that he uses to interpret others,the same way, no matter how many qualifiers of the“according to the norms of German culture” type or howevermany footnotes, glosses, commentaries of the culturaldifferences, or what ever, he accompanies them by. Othercultures become, so to speak, logical constructions out of theprocedures and practices of American culture. If he now22 H. Putnam, Ibid., p. 230.23 H. Putnam, Ibid., p. 230.Chapter two, section two Page 55attempts to add “the situation is reversed from the point ofview of any other culture” . .. the transcendental claim of asymmetrical situation cannot be understood if the relativistdoctrine is right24.Through his analogy between the methodological solipsist and thecultural relativist, Putnam draws our attention to the inconsistency of anon-metanarrative-based historicism. Without the supplement of atranscendental concept, methodological solipsism makes other mindslogical constructions out of our own experiences, which is equivalentto saying that other minds do not have independent existence. Thetranscendental claim that the perspective of cultural relativismextends to other cultures cannot be made when we stay true to themethodology of cultural relativism. The deep inconsistency intheoretical relativism is that the “transcendental claim of asymmetrical situation cannot be understood if the relativist doctrine isright”25. The upshot of this problem for the extreme historicist isthat it becomes inconsistent to say that truth is relative tovocabularies, since we are unable to explain what it is for othervocabularies to exist without abandoning the premises of extremehistoricism. This inconsistency, a consequence of eliminating anytranscendent concepts gives Rorty, and us, reason to look to amoderate form of historicism if we are to be historicists.The analogy holds another surprise for the extreme historicist. Justas the methodological solipsist is led, by the demands of consistency,Putnam, Ibid., p.231-232.25 H. Putnam, Ibid., p. 232.Chapter two, section two Page 56into solipsism proper, the cultural relativist is led out of culturalrelativism, by the demands of consistency, into cultural imperialism.One cannot make the transcendental claim that truth is relative to thenorms of other cultures for members of other cultures if, for you, alltruth is relative to the norms of your culture. So as consistentmethodological solipsism is led into solipsism proper, the extremehistoricist is led into Cultural Imperialism. Putnam’s expression,‘Cultural Imperialism’, is a little misleading. If the argument is right,and the very idea of independent cultures becomes problematic, thenhow could one culture colonize an ‘other’; how could one be animperialist? Imperialists, it would seem, must have somethingindependent to take over, but if Putnam’s argument is right, theindependence of other cultures, if we are to take the consequences ofextreme historicism seriously, has been eliminated. Instead ofimperialism, we seem to have Cultural SoUpssm.So Putnam has shown that just as the methodological solipsist, inorder to stay consistent, is led into solipsism proper, so too thecultural relativist is led into cultural imperialism: For if truth is justwarranted assertability in terms of cultural norms, how can we doanything else but use our norms?consistent cultural relativism becomes indistinguishable fromrealism... It is realist in that it accepts an objective differencebetween what is true and what is merely thought to be true...the argument turns on the fact that our culture, unliketotalitarian or theocratic cultures, does not have “norms” thatdecide philosophical questions... Consensus definitions ofChapter two, section two Page 57reason do not work, because consensus among grownupspresupposes reason rather than defining it.26The heart of Putnam’s argument against extreme historicism is thatthe vocabulary used by members of a linguistic community, if it is tostay consistent, must always be recognized in terms falling within thehost language, and since the non-host vocabularies can only bereferred to quotationally in the host language, it cannot admit theindependent existence of other vocabularies without denying afundamental methodological assumption of the position: That is, thereis nothing extra-vocabularic which makes27 sentences true. The ironyof extreme historicism is that, if Putnam is right, it cannot stayrelativist, it must become imperialist.Rorty cannot escape from Cultural Solipsism by claiming that thereare differences between how, say, cultures are ‘carving up the world’through their different vocabularies: If Putnam is right, such a claimamounts to saying that the host culture finds that ‘p is true’ and thata mere construction out of the host culture, culture2 finds that ‘not-pis true’. Notice how this comparison of the host culture and culture2 isperformed within the host culture, and makes reference only tosentences within these groups generated exclusively from the hostculture. Rorty must either accept metanarratives (which makesrelativism possible but leads to the possibility of a scheme ofcommensuration) or give up a pluralism of vocabularies and acceptPutnam, Thid., p. 235.27 Rorty allows that the world may cause us to think that something is true, but the worldcannot function as an authority for the truth of a belief. Here, the relation of causation is opaque.Chapter two, section two Page 58Cultural Solipsism. Since ‘the extra-vocabularic existence of p’ or‘reality underwrites p and not-p is false’, are eithertranscendent/metanarrative-based claims or simply reports on culturalacceptance, Rorty has to make the Hobson’s choice between acceptinga metanarrative (and being a moderate historicist) or giving up theidea that ‘truth is relative to vocabularie’ (and being an extremehistoricist).Cultures, subcultures, traditions, whether we are in a butcher shopor a chemical laboratory, will all make a difference to the truth orfalsity of a particular sentence, and this is what Putnam calls thezmmanence of truth and rational acceptability. For Putnam, truth andrational acceptability are relative to, or immanent in, the language andthe context, or tradition that we are in, but the complete reduction ofthese concepts to beliefs held at a particular time and place does notfollow unless we deny that traditions can themselves be criticized28.The moderate historicist admits that truth and rational acceptabilityalways require historically conditioned circumstances, but what makeshim a moderate (as opposed to extreme) historicists is that he alsobelieves that through the criticism of cultures themselves based onmetanarrative considerations, truth and rational acceptabilitytranscend their context too.Putnam, Ibid., p. 227.Chapter two, section three Page 59[31 Cultural SolipsismSection SummaryThe defensibility of Cultural Solipsism is examinedmore closely. The transcendent, regulative29 function ofreason is found resistant to a naturalization in terms of aclosed, historically specific set of beliefs.Since Rorty’s position takes the elimination of metanarrativesseriously, it is important to see if Cultural Solipsism is a tenableposition to hold. Putnam argues that “it is a special kind of realism”30It is realist in that it accepts an objective difference betweenwhat is true and what is merely thought to be true... It is not ametaphysical or transcendental realism, in that truth cannotgo beyond right assertability, as it does in metaphysicalrealism. But the notion of right assertability is fixed by“criteria” in a positivistic sense: something is rightlyassertible only if the norms of the culture specify that it is;these norms are, as it were, an operational definition of rightassertability, in this view.3’Putnam says that the position does not hold up under examination and29 Such concepts, like truth or reason, are transcendent insofar as they are not reducible toparticular, historical communities. They are found to occur across these communities. Theseconcepts are regulative insofar as they provide a means to criticize the practices of existingcommunities. Together, these features make committing the ‘naturalistic fallacy possible. Onecan say X is good, if X is approved by a given community, but if there are transcendent, regulativeconcepts available, one can always ask if the community is justified in thinking that ‘X is good.30 H. Putnam, Why Cant Reason be Naturalized’?, After Philosophy: End or Transformation,eds. K. Baynes, J. Bohman and T. McCarthy, MIT press, Cambridge, 1987, p. 233.31 H. Putham, Thid., p. 233.Chapter two, section three Page 60the “argument turns on the fact that our culture, unlike totalitarian ortheocratic cultures, does not have “norms” that decide philosophicalquestions”32.If we look to our culture as an example, it seems that ‘pis true only if it is assertible according to the norms of our culture’ is,given the norms of our culture, empirically false. It may be a necessarycondition, if that, but for the norms of ‘right assertability’ in our actual,historical epoch, mere agreement is insufficient. So Putnam holds thatCultural Imperialism (or as we have reason to call it, CulturalSolipsism) is “contingently self-refuting”33.To reinforce hisconclusion, Putnam adds that, given the vagueness and even theincoherence of existing cultural norms, they are not the sorts ofstandards that can be mechanically applied to issues raised byjustification. “Our task... is to interpret them (the standards], tocriticize them, to bring them and the ideals that inform them intoreflective equilibrium”34.For Putnam, the openness, thetranscendence, that informs our cultural norms cannot be reducedinto particular, historically conditioned beliefs. The normativedimension of ‘reasonable’, ‘good’, and justified’, cannot, withoutcommitting the ‘naturalistic fallacy’, be reduced to particular,historically conditioned beliefs. To say with the Cultural Solipsist, that‘Truth is whatever convinces my cultural peers’, does not capture thenormative transcendence of truth, for one can always ask, “What aboutwhen my cultural peers are wrong?’ Putnam is not denying the32 H. Putnam, Ibid., 1987, p. 233.H. Putnam, Ibid. 1987, p. 234.H. Putnam, Ibid., 1987, p. 234.Chapter two, section four Page 61historicist claim that truth and falsity only make sense against aninherited background, but he wants to leave open the importantcondition that these backgrounds can themselves be criticized.Chapter two, section four Page 62[4] The Consequences of Being Anti-Metanarrative:Williams and Commitment.Section SummaryPutnam has shown that if Rorty is an extremehistoricist, eliminating metanarratives and any extravocabularic authority, he is inconsistent to also hold thattruth is relative to vocabularies. We turn now to problemsthat arise from Rortys elimination of any extra-vocabularicauthority. Bernard Williams’ critique of Rorty is that theremay be a pragmatic cost rather than, as we might expect, again, to holding an anti-metaphysical picture. In otherwords, if foundationalism works, then why replace it? Rortycannot know that his position would work better, andtherefore seems unable, on his own pragmatic grounds, togive any reason for replacing theFoundationalist/Enlightenment metaphysics with an extremehistoricism.Williams objection to Rorty’s recommendation thatwe sever science from Enlightenment metaphysics may beseen in a rather different way, however. His claim could bethat science’s consciousness requires an authority which isitself totally non-vocabularic, completely outside the beliefrealm; an external authority. Without this duality between ascientific vocabulary and its object, science’s consciousnesswill lack its main motivational concepts and will not ‘work’.If science thinks of itself as not “working” on its externalobject but standing in only a blind, causal relation to what isoutside it and that its true object, the real subject of itssentences and descriptions is some part of its (or an) alreadyexistent vocabulary, then science’s motivation willnecessarily collapse. Since Williams thinks that thismotivation on the part of science (to think that its externalobject is essential to the scientific enterprise) he must alsobelieve that when this present motivation of science isremoved and replaced science, unnourished by its essentialChapter two, section four Page 63motivation, will necessarily wither. But this bit ofessentialism seems confused. Science’s product is one thing;its final motivation another. This account of William’scomplaint thus makes Rorty’s answer to him more clearlyapparent: “They’ll learn”.If science’s product and its continuance may remainunharmed by its separation from the metaphysics of anexternal authority then Rorty is free to speculate aboutalternative authorities which are more productive in otherareas of endeavour consistent with and without necessarilyrisking any loss in the usefulness of science.This approach furthermore supplies Rorty with ananswer to William’s question of “if Enlightenmentmetaphysics works (for science) why should a pragmatistwant to fix it?” The answer, as above, would be that a non-external authority works better. “Works better” is cashed outas the idea that such an authority is consistent with andmore productive of self-creation. Where such an authoritycan serve both the private and the public realm, greaterfreedom in the private realm is possible, less danger to itwould exist than from a public realm with an externalauthority and no danger to the scientific enterprise needresult once scientists are disabused of a workable althoughunnecessary metaphysics.But now the question attributable to Williams isfurther sharpened. It becomes: “Is the idea of an externalauthority essential for the function of all vocabularies?” Thatmay be what Williams actually had in mind when he urgedthat an Enlightenment metaphysics was essential forscience.For Rorty’s vocabulary, the existence of a worldexternal to agents is a “platitude”. For purposes of this essaywe are therefore entitled to accept this without argumentalthough it is worth noting that Rorty has not given us theworld, the external, without motive. First he wants toeschew Idealism or eschew what Rorty might well call“vocabularism”. So he accepts a world with selves and theiractions which includes their vocabularies and everythingthey understand on one hand, and a ‘something’, a realm,Chapter two, section four Page 64beyond that but still causally connected. It is a realm whichcauses our cognitions but which is not itself cognizable.Without allowing us to have an epistemic relation to thisrealm, it has become a pragmatic dangler, the ‘thing-in-itself. This realm is thus quite deliberately stripped by Rortyof any conceivable authority over cognition or vocabulary.And, we recall, Rorty’s good reason for this is that what isitself outside the realm of our vocabulary, our beliefs, ourcognitions, lacks therefore the very properties needed to bean authority for the realm of vocabulary.But such a realm, totally external to vocabularies,either has to play a role in the scheme of things, or beeliminated on the pragmatic grounds Rorty himself accepts.The external realm is granted a causal role but is that really arole unless it is accompanied by the role of explananda? Ifone refuses to admit that “where a cause exists, a law may bewritten” or more in keeping with Rorty’s terms, “where acause exists a description of that cause as cause awaits (maybe caused) - an explanation awaits” then that refusal leavesthe causal role of the external world without a role orfunction. This refusal denies that we can make descriptivereference to the world as causes or explananda. A vocabularywith this restriction is a vocabulary without any terms ofreference than other bits of vocabulary. In short avocabularism/idealism. So Rorty must choose either thisidealism or a real role for the external within vocabularies. Inchapter three we will see that Rorty should choose the latterhorn of this dilemma. Whether in choosing a real role withinvocabulary for the idea of the external Rorty is opting for anexternal authority for vocabulary, we shall leave for laterwhen further resources for this choice emerge. They arereasons which come out of the preservation of pragmatismand therefore actions and, generally, the difficulty ofsustaining a pragmatic Idealism35.See Chapter Three, section one, “The Metanarrative of Pragmatism”. (If we are not caused byan External world and do not effect it can we hold onto the notion of action?)Chapter two, section four Page 65Bernard Williams argues that Rorty’s pragmatism should forcehim to accept an external authority, the world, at least as far asscience is concerned. Williams thinks that the ‘consciousness ofscience’ is inseparable from the motivation that one is getting ‘closerthe way the world really is’. Why should Rorty, the arch-pragmatist,want to replace Enlightenment metaphysics if that picture ofjustification helps scientists preserve this motivation?Williams’ claim must be that there is an essential connectionbetween the external authority of a world and scientific inquiry.Without a criterion such as Sellars’ “better picturing”36to provide aground for comparison, we are left without a means to commensuratedifferent vocabularies. Without a way to convince ourselves that ourvocabulary is the ‘best’, our capacity to be committed to our chosen‘work’ may be diminished. This is the pragmatic cost that Williamsforesees:[Rorty] naively treats his discourse as standing quite outsidethe general philosophical situation that he is describing. Hethus neglects the question whether one could accept hisaccount of the various intellectual activities, and still continueto practise them.37The function of metaphysical external authorities has been to say orshow how there is one right answer. Metaphysics caused one to becommitted to beliefs. It is this causal feature which Williams believes36 R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 279.Bernard Williams, Auto-da-Fe: Consequences of Pragmatism, Reading Rorty, ed. A.Malachowski, Basil Blackwell, Cambridge, 1990, p. 29.Chapter two, section four Page 66Rorty’s picture lacks, and thus this lack explains why he thinks that “ifRorty’s descriptions of what science really is are true, they are notgoing to be accepted into that consciousness without altering it inimportant ways-- almost certainly for the worse, so far as the progressof science is concerned”38.That is, our commitment to thevocabulary of science cannot continue without diminishment if Rorty’saccount of commitment continues to eliminate the extra-vocabularic.Williams continues,It is not very realistic to suppose that we could long sustainmuch of a culture, or indeed keep away boredom, by playfullyabusing the texts of writers who believed in an activity whichwe now know to be hopeless39.Williams refuses the invitation to rethink the role of philosophy, whichin Rorty’s terms becomes a form of cultural criticism, as the type ofsuccessor-subject that would enjoy enough commitment to beperpetuated. Even science, driven by the ideal of trying to get ‘clearerabout the nature of the world’, or the ‘extra-vocabularic, would suffer.The sense that one is not locked in a world of books, that oneis confronting ‘the world’, that the work is made hard or easyby what is actually there -- these are part of the driving force,the essential [emphasis minel consciousness of science; andeven if Rorty’s descriptions of what science really is are true,they are not going to be accepted into that consciousnesswithout altering it in important ways -- almost certainly for38 Bernard Williams. Ibid., p. 31.Bernard Williams, Ibid., p. 33.Chapter two, section four Page 67the worse, so far as the progress of science is concerned.., adreadful problem confronts the pragmatist: whether his ideascan be, in their own terms, true’ at all. For the pragmatist tosay that his formulations are true presumably means simplythat they work out... the scientist’s sentences keep themgoing -- and that, for the pragmatist, is all that can matter40.Rorty is convinced that this self-image, cultivated through theEnlightenment heritage of metaphysical/foundational thinking, can besuperceded. He envisages a poeticized culture where an individual“accepts chance as worthy of determining her fate”41. Rorty arguesthat we need to drop the idea that there is something extravocabularic which underwrites our acceptance of vocabularies. ButWilliams thinks that there is something “essential” aboutrepresentationalism to the continuing pragmatic success of science.As Jane Heal writes,Williams’ plausible claim is that a state of myself which I couldknowingly and consciously produce at will could not be takenby me to be one in which I accurately represent anindependent world; I can only do that by having my statedetermined by the world and not by myself. But since Rorty’sview is that the idea of ‘independent reality’ on whichWilliams’ argument trades is itself unfortunate and due forthe philosophical chop, he is not going to be moved by theseconsiderations42.40 Bernard Williams, Ibid., p. 31.41 R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 51.42 j Heal, Pragmatism and Choosing to Believe, Reading Rorty, ed. A. Malachowski. BasilChapter two, section four Page 68Williams’ claim must be that there is an essential connectionbetween the external authority of a world and scientific inquiry. Yet itseems that one can separate the motivation that scientists actuallyhave, as a contingent matter of fact, from the product of science.Williams needs an independent way to justify this example of‘essentialism’. Yet it seems unlikely that empirical grounds will besufficient for him to do so. If there is no essential connection betweenthe prime motivation for science and its product, then Rorty is safe,on pragmatic grounds, to speculate on and work with alternativeauthorities that are useful in other areas of endeavour, such as selfcreation, without endangering the pragmatic success of science. Onthe other hand, Williams could argue that science’s position vis-a-visother parts of our vocabulary is so strong that what functions asauthority for it will strongly tend to function as authority for otherparts. This would result in the tendency to block the speculation inand experiment with other authorities Rorty recommends so long asscience’s product retains the powerful use it has for us.If ‘independent reality’ requires that the world is intensional, and‘speaks’ to us in the form of true propositions being ‘underwritten’ bythe real properties of the world, then Rorty will reject independentreality. “The world does not speak. Only we do”43. How could onerecognize the difference between hearing what the ‘world’ is saying,and ‘speaking for it ourselves’? Rorty writes,I want to claim that “the world” is either the purely vacuousBlackwell, Cambridge, 1990, P. 105.R. Rorty. Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 6.Chapter two, section four Page 69notion of the ineffable cause of sense and goal of intellect, orelse a name for the objects that inquiry at the moment isleaving alone: those planks in the boat which at the momentare not being moved about44.Suppose we begin with the idea that the world’ is an external,purely extensional authority. This secularized, ‘de-deified’ view is aclaim emblematic of Enlightenment metaphysics. Williams takes the‘consciousness of science’, that is, the idea that science is reallygetting closer to the real nature of the world, as a necessarymotivation in the explanation of the success of science. If Rorty’sprogram eliminates the idea that science is justified in holding thisself-image, then his elimination of representationalism is in directconflict with his pragmatism, since changing the consciousness ofscientists, Williams claims, will ‘almost certainly’ negatively affectscience’s pragmatic success.Were Rorty to give pragmatic reasons for the elimination ofrepresentationalism, they would have to be of the form that the‘world’, an external, purely extensional authority, has stifled scientific(self) creation, that the dragging anchor of such a metaphysics has leftscience further behind than it would otherwise have been. But it wouldtake a Herculean scientist to be able to show this —- mere instances ofslowness to change, for example, would not suffice.“The world can, once we have programmed ourselves with alanguage, cause us to hold beliefs”45.To need to believe that ‘anR. Rorty, The World Well Lost, The Journal ofPhilosophy 69, 1972, p. 663.R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 6.Chapter two, section four Page 70independent world’ is ‘grounding’ one’s beliefs is to accept a theory ofjustifying a belief that depends on the ‘non-cognitive underwriting thecognitive’, a connection to the extra-vocabularic. Williams thinks thatwithout such a connection, commitment to a vocabulary will suffer. ButRorty has an available story here, too. The work is ‘made hard or easy’by the blind impress. This does not commit one to believing that theblind impress becomes sighted.Where the ‘independence’ of reality is construed to mean thatthere is a world that has a nature independent of our descriptions ofit, Rorty rejects it, but when the ‘independence’ is construed as beinga product of different descriptions that are possible, Rorty can acceptit without modification of his position. An important thing toremember is that this causation is not intentional-- giving the worldan independent role does not requires an independent metaphysicalagency. To think that is to at least personify, if not deify the world;“something we ought to respect as well as cope with, somethingpersonlike in that it has a preferred description of itself’46. Yet to saythis is not to rule out the possibility that working on the bestvocabulary for describing that non-intentional set of causes may be‘hard or easy’ because of those causes. In short, Rorty has a way ofdescribing how our experience with the world appears to us, and hisposition only requires that he reject the idea of a world that privilegesa vocabulary as the ‘one that gets it right’. “Only if we have some suchpicture in mind, some picture of the universe as either itself a personor as created by a person, can we make sense of the idea that theRorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 21.Chapter two, section four Page 71world has an “intrinsic nature”47.The world should not, arguesRorty, be an authority that produces a scheme of commensuration forall vocabularies. As we will see in the section on Dewey in chapterthree, an independent role for the world need not require ametaphysical conception. It can be seen as a set of constant functionswith which our vocabularies interact.Notice, however, when the ‘world’ plays a role in the evaluation ofof the effectiveness of different vocabularies in making our work ‘easyor hard’, the world is no longer is left as a nomological dangler. Theexternal realm is granted a causal role, but is that really a role unless itis accompanied by the role of explanandum? And if the role ofexplaining of how vocabulary production is easy or hard is given to theworld, does the world really remain stripped of authority for ourvocabularies? If our vocabulary has more tenns of reference thanother possible vocabularies and that difference becomes thejustification for preferring our vocabulary to an alternative, then it isno longer the case that the world functions only as a nomologicaldangler and the world will thereby have some authority for ourvocabularies. If there is only a opaque causal relation available betweenus and the world, the world can play no pragmatic role. So Rortyeither chooses a form of idealism or a real role for what is external tovocabularies. In chapter three, reasons will be offered for Rorty tochoose the latter horn of this dilemma.In short, the preservation of a non-idealist pragmatism requiresholding onto the world as an authority for our vocabularies. This claimR Rorly, Op Cit., 1989, p. 21.Chapter two, section four Page 72will be supported further in chapter three, section one. Can we hangon to the idea of pragmatism without retaining the concept of action -cognitively causing events and being cognitively effected by the world?If we are not caused by an external world and do not effect it can wehold onto the notion of action? Does not the idea of works required atleast two terms, some thing that is desired and some thing thatsatisfies that desire? Reasons for this way of characterizing therequirements of pragmatism will emerge later48. But recastingWilliams in this more general way points to a conflict between Rorty’spragmatism and ‘vocabularism that is based on a presupposition ofpragmatism, what we will have reason to call the metanarrative ofpragmatism, not just, as Williams offers, empirical propositions aboutthe motivational states of scientists.48 See Chapter Three The Metanarrative of Pragmatism.Chapter two, section five Page 73[5j Commitment: Enlightenment and HistoricistSection SummaryThe world, truth, transcendent functions like reason,and normative ideals such as good, and works better’, aretranslated by historicists into commitments held at a timeand place.This is a psychological, empirical analysis of thesefunctions and ideals. When authority is taken to betranslatable to commitment, there is an available analysis ofhow there can be a difference between “what is true” and“what is believed to be true by a particular individual”. Theformer is “what my peers believe” or what is “believed by thecommunity”. However, since historicists reject an externalauthority for belief, this account of authority, (what beliefsthat the community is committed to) is an Internal or intravocabularic, or cognitive authority. Such authorities can bestrong authorities and when commitment to them is verystrong, they are regarded as the ‘only’ authority-- if anauthority is to have the properties of an authority, it mustgive the right answers, and thereby be singular or excludeother ‘authorities-- this is why even Internal authorities canfunction like a “God-Concept”. When the authority of thecommunity is taken to be final, then the agent within thissort of community is led to see this community as the onlyauthority. A deified Internal authority becomes culturalsolipsism. So, it is an empirical possibility that the internal-to-belief authority of the “community” can be just as powerfulas the authorities used by the Enlightenment. Getting rid ofexternal authorities, such as the world, for beliefs does notrid us God-Concepts.The Enlightenment and the onto-theological view ofauthority, saw the authority for belief as being the passive,extensional, representable world. When the agent is verystrongly committed to this authority, it too leads to adeification of the world. This attitude expresses itself asrealism and/or materialism, etc. While this view isChapter two, section five Page 74metaphysical, it need not be any more or less prone todeification than the anti-metaphysical internal authorityposition. So if the onto-theological view is rejected by Rortyas a limit on the ‘contingency of authority’, in other words, asa limit on self-creation, then the internal authority of thecommunity is not, by any form of conceptual entailment, animprovement. Should the onto-theological be replaced by theCognitive -Theological?When Rorty translates talk of the “world” into “a name for theobjects that inquiry at the moment is leaving alone -- “those planks inthe boat which at the moment are not being moved about”49-- he isgiving an account of the world in terms of the commitments held bymembers of a community at a particular time and place. Rorty’sremark that ‘truth is a property of sentences’ is, then, to be taken tomean that it is now somewhere within vocabularies that the authorityfor distinguishing true from false beliefs and/or utterances exists. Inthe Enlightenment model, for example, authority was external toagents and their beliefs. But if the extreme historicist position is right,then authority can only come from other beliefs.In the Enlightenment model the formation of beliefs through otherbeliefs is the method of justification, but the process of justificationwas always accountable to an external authority, usually the world.Thus it was possible to see some beliefs as justified, but still not true,that is, justified, but not underwritten by the external authority. On theextreme historicist position Justification and Authority are collapsed.There can be mistakes, such as when a particular agent is led toR. Rorty.The World Well Lost, The Journal ofPhilosophy, 69, 1972, p. 663.Chapter two, section five Page 75believe something that is not held by the community as true, but herethe authority is internal to the realm of belief. There is no externalauthority that stands to the communities’ beliefs in the same way thatthe community stands to the particular agent. Putnam marks thisdifference by saying that true beliefs are only ‘rightly assertible’, but tothe extreme historicist, there is nothing beyond ‘right assertability’. IfRorty, as the pragmatist, sees no pragmatic difference between ‘rightassertible’ and ‘true’, then he is content to call rightly assertiblebeliefs “true”. There can, thereby, be a difference between what is‘intra-subjectively’ [by the relevant community] thought to be true andwhat the particular individual thinks to be true’. As Putnam puts it, theCultural Solipsist is a direct analogue of the realist in that it acceptsan objective difference between what is true and what is merelythought to be true’50.If the community really does function as an authority then it musthave certain properties. It must be authoritative, that is, it must ruleon which beliefs are acceptable, and which are not. To perform thatfunction, it must rule in a way that allows agents to pass from the stateof entertaining the idea that a belief is true to the state of believingthat a belief is true. To perform that function, the community mustcommit agents to their beliefs. If the community is to perform thatfunction, it must be seen as holding the right answer.In light of the function of authority, then, there will be a strongtendency of the community to exclude other authorities so that it canbe seen as the single true authority. If it is not seen as the single true50H. Putnam, Op Cit., 1987, p. 234.Chapter two, section five Page 76authority, then it is not functioning as the authority for belief, it doesnot explain how agents become committed to their beliefs. If theworld is authoritative for our beliefs, then ‘what the communitybelieves’ is authoritative because it is an index of beliefs that are foundto be useful by large numbers of agents testing their beliefs on thatexternal to belief realm. But if the extreme historicist is right,authority cannot be shared with this external realm, for to allow thatexplanation would put the authority in the world and the authority ofthe community could be explained in terms of the likelihood that‘what the community believes’ mirrors that external authority. To allowthis interpretation of the authoritative role of the community wouldplace us in the old representational model and our historicism couldonly be moderate at best. So for the extreme historicist, thecommunity must be the single source that produces commitment tobeliefs. So, it is an empirical possibility that the internal authority ofthe community can be just as powerful as the authorities used by theFoundationalist/Erilightenment model. So getting rid of externalauthorities, such as the world, for beliefs does not rid us of God-Concepts. If the community is to function as an authority concept,then the fact that it is ‘finite and contingent’ cannot undermine itscapacity to commit agents to their beliefs. If it can, then it is notfunctioning as an authority for those individuals.Given this analysis of the properties of an authority, it is the casethat if the community is to be the authority for belief, it must functionin the way that that the extreme historicist has pictured it. It mustChapter two, section five Page 77exclude other ‘authorities’ if it is to be authoritative. It must be,analogously to the “world” in “Enlightenment scientism”, something‘God-like”, . . .which in turn was a survival of the religious need to havehuman projects underwritten by a non-human authority’51.If thecommunity is to play the role that the “world” plays in “Enlightenmentscientism”, then it must have these ‘deified’, God-concept, properties.So even if we move authority from the world to an “internal-to-belief’ realm, using ‘what the community believes’, we do not escapefrom ‘God-concepts’. As a matter of empirical fact, there is a tendencyfor authorities to exclude other authorities, for that is how thefunction of authority operates. If so, then where is the pragmaticadvantage (in terms of self-creation) for eliminating externalauthorities?If we eliminate the external realm as the authority for belief, then,if the function of authority (committing agents to their beliefs) is to besustained, there will be a strong empirical likelihood that thecommunity will become Culturally Solipsistic (exclude otherauthorities).A further difficulty of allowing the community to serve as theauthority for belief will emerge in chapter three when we consider theterms that must be in a vocabulary rich enough to coherently describepragmatism. Will an authority internal to agents arid their beliefs besufficiently contrasting to allows the idea of ‘works’ to be sustained?We turn now to examining the role of the Contingency-belief in thepsychology of the ironist to confirm that Rorty’s ironist could not exist51 R. Rorty, Contthgertcy, irony arid solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 52.Chapter two, section five Page 78in a Cultural Solipsist community. We will then be able to concludethat Rorty’s position must be different from the position that Putnamascribes to him. To keep the ironist in place, Rorty cannot be anextreme historicist, a Cultural Solipsist.Chapter two, section six Page 79[61 The IronistUsing one of Rorty’s contemporary influences,Donald Davidson, and Davidson’s theory of action, we willturn to the issue of whether Rorty’s ironist could exist in theCultural Solipsistic community. Davidson distinguishes astate where agents are considering the desirability of anaction from a further state where the agent decides that thedesirable characteristics of an action are sufficient to actupon. This latter state requires an ‘all-out’ judgement to theeffect that ‘This action is desirable’. This all-out judgementis a necessary condition for intentional action to occur. Withthis action theory machinery in hand, an account of Rorty’ssystematic irony can be given. There must be a tension thatdevelops between commitment, and as Rorty says, the‘contingency of commitment’. For this tension to occur,there must be a robust account available of ‘othervocabularies’ and the ironist’s attraction to these othervocabularies. This is something that the extreme historicistposition cannot supply.An action is ironic when it is an action that frustratesthe agent’s exercise of goal-functionality. This can happen inthe ordinary sense of irony, or, as Rorty shows,systematically. Ordinary ironical acts may occur because weare in ignorance of the fact that the means we have chosenwill actually produce the antithesis of the intended goal orignorant of the fact that the goal we have chosen will itself beproducing an antithesis of more powerful goals. Irony thusresults not only in what was unintended or merely notdesired but in what is disliked by the agent. When our goal-functionality is used so that it frustrates our goals we haveordinary irony. When, however, in the very formation of ourintentions to act, our beliefs cause us to lose commitment toour goals (but we are nevertheless causing the events whichare means to these ‘goals’), we have used our goal-functionalprocess to eliminate the function of goals. In this case ofirony we get the antithesis of what we want, we get goal-Chapter two, section six Page 80dysfunctionality. This is systematic irony and produces the‘ironic condition’ which characterizes Rorty’s ironist.The member of a Cultural Solipsistic community seesthe community as the single authority. The upshot of thisview of authority for belief is that commitment is achieved,the ‘all-out’ judgement arrived at, without the need for asingle authority that is external to agents and their practices.‘What the community believes’ is the single, internal toagents and their practices, authority. This is why Putnamargues that it is ‘indistinguishable from realism’. Because theauthority for the Cultural Solipsist is the internal-to-beliefcommunity, there is no decommitment as a result of theabsence of an external authority, and therefore,psychologically, there is no difference between the CulturalSolipsist or the representational realist in terms of beingable to arrive at the ‘hypothetical’ judgement. So, the CulturalSolipsist fails to be ironic, since the Contingency belief hasno effect on their commitment. If Rorty, in order to save theconcept of the ironist, must accept some form of moderatehistoricism and reject extreme historicism, then we havevery telling evidence that he must be a moderate historicist.As an example of the function of the contingencybelief, we will consider why Rorty thinks that, in our society,irony should be ‘privatized’.There is a reason why critics of Rorty have beenperplexed about the type of historicism that Rorty holds.When we look to Rorty’s picture of an ‘ideal liberal society’,we find that he divides it into ironist intellectuals and nonironist non-intellectuals. These non-intellectuals have nodoubts about their beliefs even though they see themselves ascontingent through and through. They are socialized in sucha way that the Contingency-belief does not cause them tohave doubts. It seems, then, that Rorty pictures a societywhere the intellectuals are moderate historicists, andthereby have the necessary conditions for irony to obtain,and the non-intellectuals do not.Chapter two, section six Page 81To help settle the issue of whether Rorty is a moderate orextreme historicist, we need to focus on the idea of irony. Tounderstand the type of irony that Rorty has in mind, which is asystematic variation on standard intention formation, we must firstlook at some aspects of action theory, including intention formation.Davidson writes,Let us call judgements that actions are desirable in so far asthey have a certain attribute, prima fade judgements. Primafacie judgements cannot be directly associated with actionsfor it is not reasonable to perform an action merely because ithas a desirable characteristic. It is a reason for acting that theaction is believed to have some desirable characteristic, butthe fact that the action is performed represents a furtherjudgement that desirable characteristic is enough to act on -that other considerations did not outweigh it. The judgementthat corresponds to, or is perhaps identical with, the actioncannot, therefore, be a prima facie judgement; it mustexpress an all-out or unconditional judgement which, if wewere to express it in words, would have the form like ‘Thisaction is desirable’.52Irony requires the recognition that there is a need for, and a lackof, an single authority that has the properties necessary to sustaincommitment, or, to put it in Davidsonian terms, to make the ‘all-out52 Donald Davidson, ‘Intending, Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford University Press,Oxford, 1963-1978, p. 98.Chapter two, section six Page 82judgement’. The Contingency-belief, that all could be other than whatis at present believed and one cannot dissolve these doubts, is theproduct of this recognition. Following Davidson, we might describethese cognitive states as lacking the all-out’53 judgement property. Inthat event the intention which causes the action has not been as fullyrationalized as it might have been. The information which forms thefinal intention requires a judgement which may be quite different fromjudgements of earlier, less informed, states. Without that final all-outjudgement, according to Davidson, an intention is not formed. In thatcase an action cannot have then occurred since an event is an actionfor him if and only if there is at least one true description of that eventunder which it was intentional54.If we are ironists, then even with respect to our ‘finalvocabularies’55,we are “keeping the seriousness of its finality whileletting itself express its own contingency... [our final vocabulary]constantly dismantles itself and constantly takes itself seriously”56.For Rorty, this “meta-stable”57st e, the possibility of ineradicabledoubts or truly vacillating attitudes caused by the awareness of thecontingency of all commitments, is caused by the lack of a way tofurther justify the terms in our final vocabularies and a feeling ofattraction to different, competing final vocabularies. He writes;Donald Davidson, Ibid., pp. 83-103, esp. p. 98-99.Donald Davidson, “Actions, Reasons and Causes and Agency, Essays on Actions andEvents, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1963-1978.Our final vocabularies, we recall, are fundamental motivational terms that comprise ourdeepest commitments. Rorty gives examples such as God, England, etc. If we are called on tojustity our allegiance to such terms, Rorty notes that we can, at best, give only circular responses.Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 112.57R Rorty, Op CIL, 1989, p. 73.Chapter two, section six Page 83(1) she has radical and continuing doubts about the finalvocabulary she currently uses, because she has beenimpressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final bypeople or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes thatargument phrased in present vocabulary can neitherunderwrite nor dissolve those doubts”58.Condition two follows from Rorty’s anti-metanarrative position: Thereis no scheme of commensuration that allows us to conclude that avocabulary is the best.there is no standpoint outside the particular and historicallyconditioned and temporary vocabulary we are presently usingfrom which to judge this vocabulary.., giving us the idea thatintellectual or political progress is rational, in any sense of“rational” that is neutral between vocabularies59.speaking a language... is not a trait a man can lose whileretaining the power of thought. So there is no chance thatsomeone can take up a vantage point for comparingconceptual schemes by temporarily shedding his own60.The function of external-to-belief authorities like the ‘world’ hasbeen to cause commitment to one’s final vocabulary. The elimination ofsuch external authorities leaves one without any resources to performthis function. Condition (3) repeats why this state of decommitment isineluctable:58 R. Rorty, Op CIL, 1989, p. 73.R. Rorty,”The contingency of a liberal community” Op Cit., 1989, p. 48.Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 50.Chapter two, section six Page 84insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does notthink that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, thatshe is touch with a power not herself. Ironists who areinclined to philosophize see the choice between vocabulariesas made neither within a neutral and universal metavocabularynor by an attempt to fight one’s way past appearances to thereal, but simply playing off the new against the old”61.“Ironism, as I have defined it, results from awareness of the powerof redescription62.The main tool that ironists have available in thiscapacity is the Contingency-belief, the idea that our final vocabulariesare the product of contingencies that could have been otherwisecombined with the feeling of attraction to different, competingvocabularies. Given that our fundamental motivations can be tracedback to these fundamental, motivational cognitive items, casting doubtupon their justifiability while at the same time holding that nothingcan serve to dissolve those doubts creates the ‘meta-stable’ state ofcontemporaneous commitment and de-commitment.The main exercise of the ironist’s powers of redescription isdirected at others.The ironist tells them that the language they speak is up forgrabs by her and her kind. There is something potentiallyvery cruel about that claim. For the best way to cause peoplelong-lasting pain is humiliate them by making the things thatseem most important to them look futile, obsolete, andpowerless.6361 R.Rorty.OpCIL, 1989, p.73.62 R Rorty, Op CIL, 1989, p. 89.Chapter two, section six Page 85The focus of the powers of redescription can be set on the finalvocabulary shared by members of a community, too.The ironist takes the words which are fundamental tometaphysics, and in particular to the public rhetoric of theliberal democracies, as just another text, just another set oflittle human things... Her liberalism does not consist in herdevotion to those particular words but in her ability to graspthe function of many different sets of words.64When the focus is turned within, the power of redescription,(which can be liberating for those who are trying to shake themselvesfree from an inherited, ‘blindly caused’ set of fundamental motivants)now turns on the motivants that are the present springs of action.When the all-out judgement has been made impossible because ourfundamental goals themselves have been brought into doubt, we havethe irony Rorty speaks of. If this ‘all-out’ judgement is a necessarycondition of intentional action-- as Davidson puts it, “an assumptionwithout which I would not have the intention”65-- its lack guides usto explain the behaviour of the agent in terms other than intentionalaction. Without the all-out judgement in place something other thanintention explains our behaviour- we quasi-act. For Davidson, behaviouris a (standard) intentional act only if there is an intention whichincludes the all-out judgement.63 R. Rorty, Op CLL, 1989, p. 89.64 R Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 94.65 Donald Davidson, Intending” Essays on Acttons and Events, Oxford University Press, p.100.Chapter two, section six Page 86an intention is a judgement that an action of a certain sort isdesirable... something I think I can do, and that I think I seemy way clear to doing, a judgement that such an action isdesirable not only for one or another reason but in light of allmy reasons . . . is an intention66.However, whenever an intention has a relation to the terms in ourfinal vocabulary, the “assumption” which I would have f my act werestandard, i.e. “This act is ‘compatible with/required by’ thefundamental motivations expressed in my final vocabulary”, is missingfor the ironist. If the agent “acts” anyway, the action proceeds withoutceftain unities of the self that would obtain if that “assumption” didobtain.To perform an action is, on my account, to hold that it isdesirable to perform an action of a certain sort in the light ofwhat one believes is and will be the case. But if one believesthat no such action is possible, then there can be nojudgement that such an action consistent with one’s beliefs isdesirable 67In short, Rorty’s ironist cannot achieve the all-out judgement, at leastwith respect to actions that involve terms in our final vocabulary,because of the Contingency-belief. The ironist can never satisfy theconditions for the belief that this is the best thing to do here and nowand still be ironical. The all-out judgement cannot be made.When, in the very formation of our intentions to act, our beliefscause us to lose commitment to our goals (but we are nevertheless66 Donald Davidson, Ibid., p. 101.67 Donald Davidson, Ibid., p. 100-101.Chapter two, section six Page 87causing the events which are means to these ‘goals’), we have used ourgoal-functional process to diminish the function of goals. In this caseof irony we get the antithesis of what we want, we get goaldysfunctionality. This is systematic irony and produces the ‘ironiccondition’, or the ‘meta-stability’68which characterizes Rorty’sironist. If ‘ironic’ agents are going ahead and behaving without the all-out judgement in place, then the event caused is non-intentional and,on Davidsonian grounds, thereby not an action. How should suchevents be properly described? The description would have to waitupon the diagnosis of the causation. If the causation occurred becauseof the strength of one attitude or another, then the explanation of thebehaviour is perhaps a form of compulsion; cognitive causation that isnot controlled by beliefs. If no beliefs are immune from irony, then wecannot “hold that it is desirable to perform an action of a certain sortin the light of what one believes is and will be the case”69, in otherwords we cannot make the all-out judgement, and therefore we quasi-act. This, of course, is a serious problem for a pragmatist who is alsoan ironist, and we will return to the problem in chapters three,section four and the conclusion of chapter four.For now, we recognize that Rorty is committed to keeping irony inhis view, and our present task is to show that he cannot manage to dothis and be an extreme historicist. Putnam is clearly right insuggesting that the Cultural Solipsist can have an equal amount ofcommitment to beliefs thought to be underwritten by the authority ofthe community as the Realist can have to beliefs thought to be68 R. Rorty,Corttthgericy, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 73.69 Donald Davidson, Ibid., p. 100401.Chapter two, section six Page 88underwritten by an external authority. The reason for this is that if thecommunity really is functioning as authority, then it has the propertyof giving the ‘right answer’. To do this, it must exclude otherauthorities. The issue now becomes sharpened. If the Cultural Solipsistis as equally committed to their beliefs as are realists, then how coulda Cultural Solipsist be an ‘ironist’? Why would the ‘contingency of theircommunity’ provide them with any reason to doubt ‘what is believed bytheir peers’? This lack of a Tmeans to doubt’ is, as we will see,problematic if Rorty really is a Cultural Solipsist. “Ironists have to havesomething to have doubts about, something from which to bealienated70”.Either the Contingency-belief has a causal function, or it does not. Ifit does not, then Putnam would be right and Cultural Solipsism isRorty’s position. However, if the Contingency-belief does not have afunction, then the possibility of the systematic irony that characterizesthe ironist seems to be precluded.Cultural Solipsism involves the elimination of ‘true-belief-underwritten by an external authority’ and the reduction of ‘true beliefinto ‘historically specific standards of right assertibility according tothe norms of the community’. This Cultural Solipsist’s internalauthority keeps commitment, and thereby truth, intact and allowsmembers of the community to make the ‘all-out’ judgement and actionproceeds normally.The Contingency-belief has no function for the Cultural Solipsist.How can we understand ‘the attraction of other vocabularies’ whenthey must be constructions out of the host vocabulary? There are no70 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 87-88.Chapter two, section six Page 89extra-vocabularic grounds, such as a representable world, that allowsus to cut across our historical, vocabularic uniqueness and findcommon ground. The Enlightenment’s idea of Truth was only amoment in the history of the ‘rightly assertible’. Further, if there arerio common functions across vocabularies, there is no metanarrativeavailable that transcends and commensurates the advantages andattractions of ‘other vocabularies’. Without using an external authority,or transcendent functions across different vocabularies, how could weunderstand objections to ‘what my peers believe’? Why, then, wouldthe Cultural Solipsist have a reason to feel less committed to rightlyassertible beliefs than Enlightenment community members to theEnlightenment’s true beliefs?The member of a Cultural Solipsistic community sees thecommunity as the single authority. The upshot of this view of authorityfor belief is that commitment is achieved, the ‘all-out’ judgementarrived at, without the need of an authority that is external to agentsand their practices. ‘What the community believes’ is the single,internal to agents and their practices, authority. This is why Putnamargues that it is ‘indistinguishable from realism’. Even though theCultural Solipsist does not believe in a form of metaphysical realism,there is no decommitment as a result of the absence of an externalauthority, and therefore, psychologically, there is no differencebetween the Cultural Solipsist or the representational realist in termsof being able to arrive at the ‘all-out’ judgement. So, although theCultural Solipsist does not have a problem with being ‘unable to makeChapter two, section six Page 90the all-out judgement, the Cultural Solipsist fails to be ironic, since theContingency-belief has no effect on their commitment. If Rorty, inorder to save the concept of the ironist, must accept some form ofmoderate historicism and reject extreme historicism, then we havesome very telling evidence that he must (should) be a moderatehistoricist.If the Contingency-belief is responsible for producing irony, thenthe Contingency-belief must cause us to be decommitted to our finalvocabularies. Yet if the paradigm of justification that Rorty brings alongto succeed the Foundationalist/Enlightenment project is extremehistoricism and thereby eliminates foundationalist aspirations, aridreplaces it with the authority of the historically conditioned,contingent settlements reached by the community, then a problememerges. Why would we be in a state of irony because of theContingency-belief? If it is true that no foundationalism can work, thatis, there is nothing extra-vocabularic that can explain our commitmentto a vocabulary, and that all that can serve as an authority for ourbeliefs is the contingent consensus of the community, then theContingency-belief should have no impact on our commitment. Torecall Davidson, the all-out judgement would be satisfied. Given theextreme historicist account of authority, the Contingency-belief wouldnot function in a way that would dc-commit the believer, since theContingency-belief is presupposed in the extreme historicist picture.Ironist theory, which uses the Contingency-belief in the service ofthe “realization that anything can be made to look good or bad by beingChapter two, section six Page 91redescribed”71 can have a corrosive effect on those aspects of ourlives that we do not want redescribed. For Rorty, liberal institutionsare to be protected, and that is why, through his public/private split,he believes that Ironist theory ‘can be privatized, and thus preventedfrom being a threat to political liberalism”72 It seems that theContingency-belief is at odds with the type of commitment that Rortyhas, and wishes to encourage, towards liberal institutions. (“Nothingis more important than the preservation of these liberalinstitutions”73)Thus, there is a need to keep the Contingency-belief,and the Ironist theory that it produces, away from the public realm ofliberal institutions.“Progress’, then, would be the creation of an ideal liberal societywhere individuals would not be socialized into a Enlightenmentparadigm of justification and thereby would not be decommitted invirtue of the Contingency-belief: “[S]omeone sufficiently historicist andnominalist to have abandoned the idea that those central beliefs anddesires refer back to something beyond the reach of time andchance74.The process of de-devinization75... would, ideally, culminate71 R Rorty. Op Cit., 1989, p. 73.72 R Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 190.Thugs and Theorists: A reply to Bernstein”, R. Rorty, Polttical Theory vol. 15 no. 4, Nov.1987, p. 567.74R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, P. xv.Note that Rorty believes that getting rid of external authorities would have the property ofeliminating god-concepts. If the argument in the previous chapter is correct, the relation betweeninternal authorities and god-concepts can contingently be as strong as the relationship betweenexternal authorities and god-concepts.Chapter two, section six Page 92in our no longer being able to see any use for the notion thatfinite, mortal, contingently existing human beings mightderive the meanings of their lives from anything except otherfinite, mortal, contingently existing human beings.76There is a means available to explain why critics of Rorty have beenperplexed about the type of historicism that Rorty holds. When welook to Rorty’s picture of an ‘ideal liberal society’, we find that hedivides it into liberal ironist intellectuals and non-ironist nonintellectuals. ‘Commonsensically nominalist and historicist’, thesenon-intellectuals have no doubts about their beliefs even though theysee themselves as contingent through and through. They are socializedin such a way that the Contingency-belief does not cause them to havedoubts. It seems, then, that Rorty pictures a society where theintellectuals are moderate historicists, and thereby have the necessaryconditions for irony to obtain, and the non-intellectuals do not.In the idea liberal society, the intellectuals would still beironists, although the non-intellectuals would not. The latterwould, however, be commonsensically nominalist andhistoricist. So they would see themselves as contingentthrough and through, without feeling any particular doubtsabout the contingencies they happened to be. They would notbe bookish, nor would they look to literary critics as moraladvisors. But they would be commonsensicalnonmetaphysicians, in the way in which more and morepeople in the rich democracies have been commonsensicalRorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 45.Chapter two, section six Page 93nontheists. They would feel no more need to answer thequestions ‘Why are you a liberal? Why do you care about thehumiliation of strangers?” than the average sixteenth-centuryChristian felt to answer the question “Why are you aChristian?”... Such a person would not need a justification forher sense of human solidarity, for she was not raised to playthe language game in which one asks and gets justificationsfor that sort of belief77Given that ‘we’78, as in those people who are not socialized in the‘ideal liberal state’, have a use for the Enlightenment’s idea offoundational beliefs, (to commit us to our vocabularies/To allow the all-out judgement to obtain) we need to ask the ask question that Rortyposes for himself: “Is the absence of metaphysics politicallydangerous?”79.The answer, for Rorty, is that in our public rhetoricwe must suppress the Contingency-belief, and the ironist paradigm ofjustification that it produces.But even if I am right in thinking that a liberal culture whosepublic rhetoric is nominalist and historicist is both possibleand desirable, I cannot go on to claim that there could orought to be a culture whose public rhetoric is ironist. Icannot imagine a culture which socialized its youth in such away as to make them continuously dubious about their ownprocess of socialization. Irony seems inherently a privateR. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 87.78 Rorty agrees that our culture is still under the spell of the foundatiorialist aspirations of ametaphysical program: our own familiar, and still metaphysical, liberal culture R. Rortv, OpCiL, 1989, p. 87.R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 87.Chapter two, section six Page 94matter. On my own definition, an ironist cannot get alongwithout the contrast between the final vocabulary sheinherited and the one she is trying to create for herself. Ironyis, if not intrinsically resentful, at least reactive. Ironists haveto have something to have doubts about, something fromwhich to be alienated.80Towards this end of keeping ironism privatized, Rorty says that “weneed to distinguish between redescription for private and for publicpurposes... my private purposes, and the part of my final vocabularywhich is not relevant to my public actions, are none of yourbusiness”81.Implied by this protection of the private activity ofredescription is a recognition that there should be limits toredescription in the public realm. We should not, Rorty prescribes,redescribe ourselves into letting the state take any further controlover the private realm. In light of the possible effects thatredescription can have on the institutions that Rorty has acommitment to maintaining, Rorty recognizes that the Contingency-belief, and the ironist theory that it supports, should be keptprivatized. If the Contingency-belief did not de-commit, then thesemoves would be without pragmatic purpose. As Rorty is pragmatist, wehave further evidence for the conclusion that he is a moderatehistoricist.In summary, Rorty envisages creatures like us in the future exceptthey are not socialized into requiring beliefs which share the functionRorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 87-88.81 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 91.Chapter two, section six Page 95of the Enlightenment’s idea of foundational beliefs, that is, committingus to our vocabularies. These sorts of creatures would not bedecommitted by the Contingency-belief. At present, we are the typesof creatures who are decommitted by the Contingency-belief. Forcreatures like us, then, the Contingency-belief can be politicallydangerous by de-committing us to our liberal institutions. ThereforeRorty suggests that a public/private split be invoked. With such a splitin place, the Contingency-belief and the ironist state ofdecommitment is privatized. This allows, Rorty thinks, for theContingency-belief to function beneficially in the pursuit ofredescribing ourselves, in other words, the Contingency-belief canhelp us act on projects of self-creation. Importantly, it also protectspublic liberal institutions from the negative effects of a decommittedsociety.Rorty is prescribing how the Contingency-belief will fit into an idealsociety, and also prescribing how, for now, the operation of theContingency-belief should be limited for the sake of the liberalinstitutions that he believes must be protected. Perhaps theContingency-belief is necessary for the freedom to be a self-creator,but given the danger it poses for our current allegiance to liberalinstitutions, he proposes a provisional public/private split.A critical question that emerges at this juncture is whether Rorty isentitled to say that he is “content to treat the demands of self-creationand human solidarity as equally valid, yet forever incommensurable”8282 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. xv In conversation at UBC, March 1994, Rorty clarified thisChapter two, section six Page 96when, at the same time, he denies that there is a metanarrativeavailable to justify this public/private split. If he is an extremehistoricist, where will he find the trans-public/private metanarrativehe needs to justify the public/private split? If, on the other hand, wefind a metanarrative betrayed within Rorty’s views, then thejustification of the public/private split may be secured by makingreference to the requirements of the metanarrative. If the criterion ofcoherence is of value to Rorty, the acceptance of a metanarrative maybe the most effective means available to him to justify thispublic/private split. Given that the split is important to his liberalismand his pragmatism, and that the resources required to produce ametanarrative would be available to him were he a moderatehistoricist, we have more evidence to believe that he should favour amoderate historicism.Some beliefs, such as the belief in a common authority, function toget agents to become committed to other beliefs. The ironist isequipped to undermine the causal function of such beliefs byredescribing them in a way that they lose their causal function. In lightof this property of ironists, it seems that they are not likely to sharethe belief in a community-based authority that is internal to agents andtheir beliefs. If this is so, then we have more evidence to suggest thatRorty does not hold the extreme historicist position. No ironist wouldbe able to endure such an authority for very long without yielding tothe temptation to redescribe such an authority.comment by admitting that he should not have used the word incommensurable at this juncturein his book.Chapter two, section six Page 97Given that Rorty speaks as a member of the class of ironists, it isunlikely that he would hold a position where the entire realm of beliefwas not ‘up for grabs’.All any ironist can measure success against is the past- not byliving up to it, but by redescribing it in his own terms,thereby becoming able to say, “Thus I willed it”... The generictask of the ironist is the one Coleridge recommended to thegreat and original poet: to create the taste by which he will bejudged. But the judge the ironist has in mind is himself. Hewants to be able to sum up his life in his own terms83We can see, then, that to keep irony Rorty cannot be an extremehistoricist. This culturally solipsistic position is not rich enough togive a robust account of other vocabularies, and thereby the decommitment caused by attraction to other vocabularies, which isneeded for irony, will not obtain.The question which remains is whether the contingency-belief isnow capable of allowing us to be ironical about all portions ofvocabulary. If there is a metanarrative, then there may be some parts ofour vocabulary that we cannot describe our way out of, and thereforecannot view with irony. I shall argue in chapter three, section four thatwhat Rorty identifies as our “final” vocabulary does not contain the“last” words in our vocabulary. Once the metanarrative of vocabulariesthat are pragmatic enough for Rorty’s purposes is articulated, therewill exist a deeper layer in any sufficiently self-conscious vocabularywhich is required for the very idea of describing. That layer will be83 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, p. 97.Chapter two, section six Page 98beyond the scope of irony.Chapter two, section seven Page 99[7] A Pragmatic Translation of the Transcendent, RegulativeFunction of ReasonSection SummaryA moderate historicist position that can give antranslation of the Enlightenment’s idea of the transcendent,regulative84 function of reason is provided to offer a way forRorty to meet the criticism of Putnam. This position, whicheliminates the Enlightenment idea of ahistorical truth, leavesopen the possibility of criticizing existing practices on thenormative dimension of “works” and “works better”. Thispragmatic translation of the transcendent, regulative force of‘reason’ in terms of a ‘sociologized’ account of vocabulariessucceeding each other on the normative dimension of‘working better’ will be offered to Rorty. Placing pragmatismat the centre of this metanarrative allows us to fill in a theoryof ‘proper commitment to beliefs’ on Rorty’s behalf. Such atheory clarifies what Rorty might mean when he claims tohave superceded the metaphysical framework that has setthe limits on traditional epistemological theories, ortraditional theories of proper commitment to beliefs. Thepragmatic ideals of ‘working better’ or ‘more pragmatic’ areexamined as a means for explaining how differentvocabularies succeed each other. While such an accountseems to lead Rorty out of the problems raised by theCultural Solipsism argument, and explains how differentvocabularies may succeed each other and be judged, they doso at the cost of betraying a metanarrative. Such a betrayalreveals that a system of commensuration, a means of rankingdifferent vocabularies on the same set of normative ideals, ispossible within Rorty’s vocabulary, despite his repudiation ofsuch an idea.Although such a position is incompatible with84 Such concepts, like truth or reason, are transcendent insofar as they are not reducible toparticular, historical communities. They are found to occur across these communities. Theseconcepts are regulative insofar as they provide a means to criticize the practices of existingcommunities. Together, these features make committing the naturalistic fallacy possible. Onecan say X is good, if X is approved by a given community, but if there are transcendent, regulativeconcepts available, one can always ask if the community is justified in thinking that X is good.Chapter two, section seven Page 100Rorty’s ‘Anti-metanarrative stance’, (it allows for thecommensuration of different vocabularies and it gives rise tocertain ‘contingent necessities’) the pragmatic gain, in lightof the problems with ‘Cultural Solipsism’ is argued to beworth the cost.Putnam writes“But if all notions of rightness, both epistemic and(metaphysically) realist, are eliminated, then what are ourstatements but noise-makings? What are our thoughts butmere subvocalizations? The elimination of the normative isattempted mental suicide”85.The Cultural Solipsist eliminates the normative, regulative,transcendent function of reason. “What my peers believe” is used asthe means to give an account of ‘proper commitment to a belief, but“What my peers believe” is not itself subject to evaluation by standardsthat stand to the community as “What my peers believe” stands to eachparticular individual. “It makes it impossible to think that there issomething which stands to my community as my community stands tome”86.Eliminating this transcendent, regulative function of reasoninsulates us within a Culturally Solipsistic predicament. ‘What my85 H. Putnam, Why cant Reason be Naturalized? , After Philosophy: End or Transformationeds. K. Baynes, J. Bohman and T. Mccarthy. MIT press, cambridge, 1987. p. 241.86 R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 59.Chapter two, section seven Page 101peers believe’ serves as the historically specific authority for ourbeliefs. Without transcendent standards that allow us to meaningfullyquestion these de facto beliefs, and without an authority for beliefwhich is properly external to agents and their beliefs, the availableaccounts of ‘truth’ are restricted to terms and relations withinparticular, historically conditioned vocabularies their users. ThomasMcCarthy treats Rorty as a Cultural Solipsist when he offers thesecounterconsiderations against a position that eliminates transcendent,unconditioned truth.“Though never divorced from social practices of justification,from the rules and warrants of this or that culture, truthcannot be reduced to any particular set thereof. We can andtypically do make contextually conditioned and fallible claimsto unconditional truth (as I have just done); and it is thismoment of unconditionality that opens us up to criticismfrom other points of view. Without that idealizing moment,there would be no foothold in our accepted beliefs andpractices for the critical shocks to consensus that force us toexpand our horizons and learn to see things in different ways.It is precisely this context-transcendent, ‘regulative surplusof meaning in our notion of truth that keeps us from beinglocked into what we happen to agree on at any particular timeand place, that opens us up to the alternative possibilitieslodged in otherness and difference that have been soeffectively invoked by post-structuralist thinkers’87.87 Thomas Mccarthy, Private Irony and Public Decency: R. Rortys New Pragmatism, CriticalIrtquiryl6, Winter, 1990, University of Chicago, p. 370.Chapter two, section seven Page 102This criticism, and Putnam’s, depend on the idea that Rorty must givean eliminative, rather than a translationist, account of thetranscendent regulative function of reason. If Rorty translates thetranscendent, regulative function of ‘reason’ in terms of ‘openness’,then he will betray a ‘metanarrative’, despite his repudiation of such anidea. A sociologized account of this ‘openness’ may actually be offeredby Rorty, and anyhow seems available to him: The pragmatic goals of‘working better’ or ‘more pragmatic’ can be a means for explaininghow different vocabularies succeed each other. Rorty rejects the ideaof vocabularies succeeding each other on the basis of theirperformance on an epistemological test, such as those suggested bythe realist’s ‘ocular metaphor’ of better ‘mirroring’. To accept such aframework would involve countenancing an authority which is externalto agents and their beliefs. However if we drop such criteria, there arestill alternative grounds for explaining/justifying why somevocabularies succeed each other. Suppose, instead, we simply followRorty’s lead in his discussion of metaphysics and ‘natural kinds’ andsay that different vocabularies succeed each other on the basis ofstrategies within or between various contingently existing practices.More generally, all the traditional metaphysical distinctionscan be given a respectable ironist sense by sociologizing them- treating them as distinctions between contingently existingsets of practices, or strategies employed within suchpractices, rather than between natural kinds88.88 R. Rorty,Contingertcy, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, ftn. 4, p. 83.Chapter two, section seven Page 103Practices discard and adopt vocabularies based on their usefulness forsuch practices. A vocabulary is adopted because it works, is useful, it isdiscarded when a different vocabulary works better, is more useful.Reading Rorty as a moderate historicist, one could argue that hehas the resources to give a translation (rather than an elimination) ofthe functions that Rorty’s ‘warranted assertability’ view, according toPutnam, precludes: Rorty writesSellars would interpret “warranted assertible in ourconceptual framework but not true” as an implicit referenceto another, perhaps not yet invented, conceptual frameworkin which the statement in question would not be warrantedassertible.89On this line of thinking, one could translate the function of ‘reason’ or‘unconditioned truth’ by reminding oneself that truth ‘according toone’s cultural peers’ is only true for a time, and the ‘transcendentregulative’ function of truth could be brought into the picture throughthe revisability of ‘our truths’ by making reference to a new set oftruths on the horizon. However, unless we have some account of whythese new sets are superseding old sets, we are unable to see whetherRorty has avoided Putnam’s line of argument. Is Rorty really amoderate historicist?Rorty agrees that there is a “certain kind of sociological fact thatneeds explanation -- the reliability of standard methods of scientificinquiry, or the utility of our language as an instrument for coping withthe world”90.Realists take this sociological fact as evidence that we89 R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature,Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 279.90 R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 279-280.Chapter two, section seven Page 104are getting a better picture of the world, and if this option is taken,the world becomes the extra-vocabularic basis for choosing betweenvocabularies. This form of realism, is in direct conflict with Rorty’sinsistence on rejecting the impulse to “have human projectsunderwritten by a non-human authority”91.Rorty prefers to‘sociologize’ the explanation of why certain vocabularies enjoy morepragmatic success than others and believes that he, and otheropponents of the realist explanation of this sociological fact will have“a story to tell about the causal effects upon our ancestors of theobjects spoken of by our present theory. He too can describe howthese objects helped to bring about justified but false descriptions ofthemselves, followed by equally justified, incompatible, and slightlybetter descriptions, and so on down to our present day”92. Thissociological account of how theories change and progress is renderedin intra-vocabularic terms: ‘true sentences about the world’ are “theworld” as known by that theory... the world as known to the science ofthe day”93. In short, Rorty appears to be content to leave the world asa theoretical dangler94,since there seems to be no means available todiscover if our expression, say, “Molecules exist” really is true, that is,really refers to molecules in the world. The success of science, if itcan be explained in both realist and anti-realist terms, does not giveus, Rorty argues, sufficient reason to accept a realist explanation of91 R. Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 52.92 R Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror ofNature,Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 282.R. Rorty, Ibid., p. 287.move, however, is problematic when seen against the backdrop of the requirements ofpragmatism. See Chapter Three, Pragmatism.Chapter two, section seven Page 105progress. For if one doubts that ‘molecule’ really refers to somethingextra-vocabularic, in the world, Rorty believes that there is little wecan do to quell that doubt. We could try rewriting the history ofscience so that “even the most primitive of animists talk about, forexample, the motion of molecules. We do not thereby assuage his fearthat molecules may not exist, but then no discovery about how wordsrelate to the world will do that”95. For Rorty, the sociological fact ofscientific progress in predicting and controlling the ‘world’ does not,require that we bring the world in, through an explanation of scientificprogress as a better ‘mirroring’ or representation of the world.The representational realist, or ‘mirroring’, position captures thetranscendence of the regulative normative concept of reason/truth byinterpreting the revision of theoretical machinery as part of the open-ended process of getting at ‘the world’, or reality. Rorty gets opennessby predicting that the continuation of the history of science will beshaped by the same sorts of causal processes that produced thecharacter of scientific inquiry up to the present. In other words,theories will be changed and modified in light of better theoreticalmachinery. The difference between the representational realist andRorty’s position turns on whether the self-image of the sciencesshould be seen as ‘getting closer to reality’ or ‘building better, morepragmatic, tools for prediction and control’. Rorty will, of course,choose the latter. If “better” or “more pragmatic” stay in Rorty’spicture, then openness, instead of the closed Cultural Solipsism,seems to be available to Rorty.R. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,Princeton University Press, 1979, p. 287.Chapter two, section seven Page 106But if ‘more pragmatic’ or ‘better’ are ideals that explain howdifferent vocabularies will succeed our present vocabularies, then ametanarrative, a means to rendering vocabularies commensurate,seems to be implied. “Sellars-Putnam-Rosenberg”96for example,have, through their different terminologies, a way toanswer the question “What guarantees that our changingtheories of the world are getting better rather than worse?”All three want a Wittgensteinian meaning-as-use theory tohandle what I have called the problem of “pure” philosophy oflanguage, and a Tractarian picturing relation to handleepistemological problems97Rorty does not want to follow Sellars along this line. To do so wouldbring in a representational metanarrative which would allow us tocommensurate language games. That is, the commensuration ofdifferent vocabularies would be possible through their performance onthe criterion of their success at picturing an extra-vocabularic world.This would “have human projects underwritten by a non-humanauthority” 98 Although Rorty may concede a metanarrative, and be amoderate historicist, it is clear that he does not want to admit99 thatthe world can function as an external authority.Rorty is not invoking a metanarrative based on something which is‘beyond time and change’, but he is, from the resources of vocabularies96 R. Rorly, Thid., p. 296.R. Rorty, Thid., p. 296.98 R. Rorty, Op Cit., 1989, P. 52.Against the idea that Pragmatism can be rendered properly without a robust conception of theworld, see chapter three, section one.Chapter two, section seven Page 107themselves, betraying the ground of a metanarrative through thetrans-vocabularic concept of ‘works’ and ‘works better’. In otherwords, there is a ‘story’ [metanarrative] about how we evolve ourlanguages on pragmatic grounds. Rorty can escape the CulturalSolipsist predicament, but only at the cost of betraying ametanarrative.Such a translation (usefulness instead of truth or reason) does not,as Putnam would put it, “eliminate the normative”, since usefulnesswill be normatively charged, (that is, regulative) and transcendent,(that is, not entirely reducible to a particular set of historicalpractices). There will be a story available to say that usefulness is anattribute of vocabularies that have been discarded, in vocabularies thatsucceeded them, and in vocabularies yet to be discovered. Thisaccount of how vocabularies succeed each other is historicist, since wepresuppose practices and participants in those practices, but notCulturally Solipsistic (extreme historicist) since there are sufficientterms and relations to give an account of other cultures/practices andpractitioners.Such a sociologized account of openness, where vocabulariessucceed each other on the normative dimension of ‘working better’,reveals that a system of commensuration100,a means of ranking100 By commensurable I mean able to be brought under a set of rules which will tell us howrational agreement can be reached on what would settle the issue on every point where statementsseem to conflict. These rules tell us how to construct an ideal situation, in which all residualdisagreements will be seen to be noncognitive or merely verbal, or else merely temporary-capable of being resolved by doing something further. What matters is that there should beagreement about what would have to be done if a resolution were to be achieved. In the meantimethe interlocutors can agree to differ - being satisfied of each others rationality the while.Chapter two, section seven Page 108different vocabularies on the dimension of whether they ‘work’ or‘work better’, is possible within Rorty’s pragmatism, despite hisrepudiation of commensuration.On balance, Rorty has more to gain than lose from dropping hisanti-metanarrative stance and using this pragmatic account ofusefulness to translate the regulative, transcendent function of ‘reasonFirst, he will allow himself a form of moderate historicism that willextricate him from the difficulties raised by holding a position that isCulturally Solipsistic. He will be able to give an account of othercultures in tenns of the common vocabulary functions that they share.He will be able to avoid the problems that the extreme historicistposition produces for his account of irony, too. Usefulness, thistranslation of the regulative, transcendent function performed inEnlightenment vocabularies by ‘reason’, makes conceptual spaceavailable to the idea of the ‘all-out’ judgement being satisfied andunsatisfied, and thereby makes the idea of irony possible. That is, anagent can come to believe that their beliefs are the best’, given apragmatic construal of this normative evaluation, and since one canalso recognize other pragmatic vocabularies (and their attractions) onecan also come to have the ironists’ ‘indissolvable doubts’ about one’sfinal vocabulary too.In the beginning of the next chapter, an account of the properties avocabulary must have if it is to be able to sustain an account of “works”,that is, goal-functionality, will be offered. This account will show howR. Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature,Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1979,p. 316.Chapter two, section seven Page 109the presuppositions of pragmatism is rich enough basis to supply uswith a defensible metanarrative. It is argued that such an account isnecessary if vocabularies are to be seen as archic practices themselves.Chapter three, section one Page 110Chapter Three: The Metanarrative of Pragmatism1] The Metanarrative of Pragmatism; The Necessary Conditions forGoal-FunctionalitySection SummaryThe presence of a syntactical metanarrative begins toemerge when the nature of certain necessities employed byRorty are examined. Vocabularies with certain strengths,such as those desired by Rorty, will have to make use ofcertain syntactical features as well as certain semanticalfeatures. The question is raised whether any vocabulary (forwhich equivalent strengths are desired) must also sharethese features.The undertaking here is to identify the fundamentalprinciples of Rorty’s position and to correct and expand thatposition according to those principles. Although I believethat those principles are shared by pragmatism generally,when I speak of pragmatists here, I refer to Rorty’s positionand leave the implications for pragmatism taken moregenerally to be argued for directly at another time. Whenchoosing among alternative descriptions, pragmatists tell usto seek which description is “(more) useful” or “works(better)”. This activity however cannot be described withoutassuming that a more basic idea, action, is already in place.Before we self-consciously establish “usefulness” and/or“works” as fundamental evaluative terms, we require aclearer understanding of the basic vocabulary required by anyview, such as pragmatism, which separates actions fromother events.Acts are distinguishable from other events by theircognitive antecedents. The cognitive states which arerequired by any vocabulary that will be able to describeaction, goal-functionality, or practicality, includes desires,beliefs and intentions and the processes of their formation. Ifpragmatists are interested in describing creatures whoChapter three, section one Page 111describe themselves as we describe ourselves, they will alsowant to describe how rational and autonomous action arepossible. Although I do not develop a comprehensive theoryof agency, these cognitive states will be described insufficient detail so that we can appreciate the underpinningsof a self-conscious pragmatism. I will claim that pragmatismcannot describe its way out of action or goal-functionality northeir cognitive antecedents. Rorty prizes self-creation, yetcannot hold this concept without making room for rationalityand autonomy. These concepts must form a part of Rortysconsiderable metanarrative, which we may label ‘themetanarrative of pragmatism”.Although Rorty is silent on the matters described inthe pragmatic metanarrative, he cannot describe his way outof these contingent necessities without using these veryconcepts. How can he describe his way out of hispresuppositions of description? If we have describers, wehave agents, and if we have agents, we have goal-functionality, and if we cannot describe anything withouthaving the features required for being a describer, wecannot, so long as we maintain the context for pragmatism,avoid the contingent necessities that form the pragmaticmetanarrative.Rorty’s critique of the Enlightenment depends onblocking any attempts to fix the content or structure of theself. Rorty’s stance on the self has a symmetry with MichaelSandel’s recent critique of liberalism’s use of the ‘self. Bothinterpret the quest for the self as a search for commonsubstantive desires or beliefs, and thus for a commonnarrative. Both accounts overlook the structural or functionalproperties, the contingent necessities, those things that wecannot describe our way out of without using them at thesame time.We are now in a position to express a fundamentaltension between Rorty’s pragmatism and his critique of theEnlightenment project. If he wants to be a pragmatist, heneeds to have the fully functioning terms to make goalfunctional creatures describable within his vocabulary. If hewants to claim that everything can be redescribed, that heChapter three, section one Page 112can abandon the vocabulary that is necessary to frame thevery idea of being pragmatic, then he must compromise hispragmatism. His anti-metanarrative stance, which was souseful in his critique of the Enlightenment, now threatenshis own pragmatism.For Rorty, the world is the cause of our cognitionswithout being itself cognizable. This is the “blind impress” ofour cognitions. Nevertheless we are somehow capable ofunderstanding that it is the cause of our cognitions.Apparently, then, the world is not entirely uncognizable byus. This causal relation between our vocabularies and theworld plays no real role for Rorty. If we cannot describe theworld then we cannot get explanation from the causalrelations and causation. The world is left dangling withoutuse. On the other hand, if we assume that the world is thecause of our cognitions, then that world must be describableas containing particulars, housed in some particularizingmedium such as space and time and capable of change, andthat can explain their effects. If Rorty accepts the world asthe cause of our cognitions then he should embrace italtogether, epistemically as well as causally.Once faced with the erosion of his attempt to block anepistemic relation to the world, Rorty has the option to dropthe idea of a sufficiently contrasting realm to the cognitive.This could be attempted by claiming that the world is anEnlightenment leftover that he had overlooked, and thecognitive/non-cognitive distinction simply marks adistinction between different parts of our vocabularies. Thisreduction of the world into vocabularic terms alone-- theworld is his vocabulary -- cannot be accomplished howeverwithout paying another price. In chapter two we saw thateliminating the world as an external authority for belief leadsto cultural solipsism, and the idea of a vocabularic-relativerendering of truth becomes impossible, since we cannotescape the limits of our host vocabulary to give a sufficientlyrich account of ‘other’ vocabularies. Letting go of asufficiently rich contrast with his vocabulary lands Rorty inthe ‘cognitivist fallacy’, a variation on Moore’s naturalisticChapter three, section one Page 113fallacy. It is fallacious, as we saw with Putnam in chapter two,to deny that there is any rendering in which some beliefs areauthoritative for others but for which there is in turn nonon-belief authority.With the metanarrative of pragmatism, presupposedby any account of practicality, we are able to frame anothercriticism that results from this attempt to describe actionsand agents fully in terms of the functions of belief. Only byputting agents back into a world, which is a sufficientlycontrasting realm to the cognitive, can these problems beovercome.When Rorty makes his case for the contingency or the entirelyhistorical nature of vocabularies, the examples are all on the semanticside. One vocabulary may contain “King and Country” as ‘final’ or mostdeeply committing terms, another, “friends and family”. As well asthese final terms, vocabularies contain semantic constructs in whichthe meaning of a set of terms are bound together within a single termby rules of “conversational implicature”. These constructs give ususeful packages of information in an efficient form. Paul Grice gives usan example of such a construction with,(1) “Smith has left off beating his wife”, where what is implied isthat Smith has been beating his wife....The first example is a stock case of what issometimes called “presupposition” and it is often held that herethe truth of what is implied is a necessary condition of theoriginal statements being either true or false1.Chapter three, section one Page 114This utterance implies that Smith has been beating his wife and thatthis implication can be neither detached nor cancelled from any othervariation on this sentence without failing to express what the sentencesays2.An attempt to detach the implication such as “Smith has leftoff beating his wife but I do not mean to imply that he has been beatingher’3 is “unintelligible”4.Such pragmatically inert sentencescannot attract the interest of a practical creature, and vocabularieswhich license their production cannot attract the commitment ofcreatures like us.Some information comes in packages in which smaller units arebound together by rules of inference. Rorty’s vocabulary, as we shallsee, clearly contains just such packages, a salient example of which isthe connection between action and pragmatism. Just as the beatercannot have left off beating his wife without having started, an eventcannot be an action without an intention as its cause.These packages of information, so obviously useful, presupposerules of inference for their packaging. In the examples before us it isthe rules of conjunction and/or implication which provide thepackaging. Rorty, however, pretty well ignores both the uses of ourrules of inference and the important question of their contingency, ofwhether a vocabulary would function either without w rules ofinference, or even granting their historical nature, without any at all.1 H.P. Grice, The Causal Theory of Perception, Perceiving, Sensing and Knowing, ed. RobertJ. Swartz, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1965, p. 446.2HP Grice, Thid., p. 446.3H.P. Grice,Ibid., pp. 446-447.4H.P. Grice, Ibid., 1965, p. 447.Chapter three, section one Page 115We may think of rules of inference as part of the syntax of avocabulary and its function as licensing or prohibiting the movement ofinformation from what in our vocabulary we describe as premise toconclusion. Some theory of this sort about inference must be held bythoroughgoing pragmatists since they see “usefulness’ explanatory. Butif this is the sort of role inference fills, then a language without thisaspect of syntax would be (inferentially) inert. Although the users ofthat vocabulary might be moved to and from beliefs, as we moveinferentially in ours, that movement would be caused by non-cognitiveor ‘blind’ factors. The users of that vocabulary would not be “reasoners”but only “holders” of beliefs. This means that if a vocabulary is to havethe uses of inference -- not necessarily our particular, perhapshistorically produced rules of inference-- it must nevertheless haverules which perform a certain ‘movement-of-information’ functionaccomplished by (our) rules of inference. That function is, at the least,to allow our beliefs to cause others according to certain rules which iffollowed do not effect the goal-functionality of the derived belief(s).Rorty then might admit that if this crucial set of uses is to bemaintained in any vocabulary, it must have within it the device whichallows their achievement.Rorty misses this point -- as revealed by his acceptance of W. Quineon necessity and presumably inference. “Thus for Quine, a necessary(or inferentiall truth is just a statement that nobody has given us anyinteresting alternatives which would lead us to question it”5. Quine’sRichard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature. Princeton University Press,Princeton, N.J., 1979, p. 175.Chapter three, section one Page 116account makes the necessity of a statement contingent upon it neverbeing brought into question by an ‘interesting alternative’. For Rorty, aswe can surmise from his other views, for some description to be“interesting” is for that description to attract commitment6.Inshort, necessity is relative to interests. However, no pragmatist canlose certain necessities, or find some dependencies no longerinteresting, without losing his interest in “usefulness”, “works”, inshort, without losing his interest in pragmatism. Pragmatists who wishto keep “works” and “usefulness” in their vocabularies are interested inthose events named “actions” which are describable as having agencyas their cause. As long as Rorty continues to find pragmatisminteresting, he will also be committed to find interesting the terms,which will be set out below, needed to describe action7.This set ofrelated terms will constitute the metanarrative of pragmatism. It is, ofcourse, only contingent that Rorty finds pragmatism and itsconstitutive vocabulary interesting, and therefore it is only contingent6 It is on that basis, after all, that it can be predicted that Rorty will become committed to themetanarrative of pragmatism, since pragmatists are interested in pragmatism, and they will, ifthey wish to be coherent in their commitment, interested in what is means to that goal. Themeans to that goal will, as we will find below, include a commitment to including in theirvocabulary the terms needed to describe a goal-functional agent, a creature capable ofpracticality.When I claim that there are certain things a pragmatist such as Rorty cannot describe his wayout of, it may occur to some to ask whether that limitation on description may not be generalizedto include position. If the generalization actually held so that no position could describe theirway out of those same things which a pragmatist such as Rorty could not, the asymmetrical statusof that pragmatism would thereby be portrayed, echoing the claim that theirs embraces allpositions. While I cannot pursue this argument without showing that all positions have someaccount of works, and therefore all of the vocabularic dependencies required to explain thatidea, I believe (but postpone trying to prove) that such an argument could be made.Chapter three, section one Page 117that these relations and terms will be necessary for Rorty. What islinked by necessity may be relative to vocabulary users’ interestshistorically. Necessity itself, however, the existence of that function isrelative to interests of vocabulary users qua vocabulary users and nottheir particular historical differences. However for pragmatists, thosewho are interested in “works” and “usefulness”, these terms andrelations needed to describe action are required if we wish to keep aninterest in pragmatism. Our interests may shift away from action tomatters concerning how, say, the wind produces certain effects. If thishappens, then we will no longer need to maintain the necessaryconnection between agency and action. But then we would no longerbe such pragmatists. More importantly, for our purposes, we wouldhave not eliminated necessity. The only way to do that is to ridvocabularies of rules of inference, a vital function to goal-functionalcreatures and therefore to vocabularies as useful to action. Thissuggests that there is a rather large syntactical metanarrative aboutvocabularies which Rorty must recognize but has ignored.I turn now however to the more interesting question, and onewhich Rorty takes on directly, of whether he must admit a semanticmetanarrative. My claim will be that Rorty’s pragmatism is aconstruction of a set of items which includes events, causation,intentions, beliefs, desires, success and failures of actions, a world andmore, all bound together by rules of inference -- a package withinterdependencies. Moreover, I shall argue that for Rorty these itemsare not merely the content ofi “final vocabulary” but must on hisview be in the final vocabulary of any vocabulary capable of describingChapter three, section one Page 118practical creatures. Rorty is committed to a metanarrative of allnarratives.In placing ‘works at the bottom of his explanatory machinery,Rorty may be seen as showing a commitment to an idea which “works”presupposes-- action. Can there be a pragmatism that does not retainthe terms for a concept of action? Is it possible to be a pragmatist, tobe practical, to be developing better tools, without cognitively causingevents and being cognitively effected by the world?The idea of “Usefulness” has two aspects. First, there is thehistorical interpretation that a particular culture may give it. Thisculture finds Euthanasia useful, another culture does not. Second andmore important to our enterprise is the structural account ofusefulness, which more than one culture/vocabulary may share, whenthe idea of usefulness is subtracted from the particular historicalcontent, let us say, in which it may have developed. Thisdecontentified (or as Rorty might put it, “thin”) idea of usefulness isimportant here because that is where a narrative to which Rorty, if notall8, pragmatists must be committed: The metanarrative ofpragmatism.The uses of words are actions, and “vocabularies”, a term of art usedby Rorty and others; are collections of rules for the uses of words:rules for actions. It is always useful in understanding an action to makeuse of the description which is in terms of the intention that was its8 may be some idealist versions of pragmatism that may not share the entiremetanarrative that Rorty, who eschews idealism (or at least wishes to keep the world in hisvocabulary) is committed to holding. A critique of an idealist version of pragmatism is offeredbelow.Chapter three, section one Page 1 19cause. Vocabularies are important because of the importance we attachto their causes and the sorts of effects those causes can have. Thesame is true for actions which are not the uses of words. Let us look,then, at this set of descriptions which would put actions and thereforepragmatism at the centre of vocabularies.Pragmatists who wish to keep “usefulness and “works” in theirvocabularies assume agents and their actions and thus a theory ofintention formation. The latter is needed in order for actions to bedifferentiated from those events which are not caused by intentionalstates and thus will not be attributable to our desires, beliefs andintentions nor relatable to the topics of responsibility, blame and othermoral discourse.These intentional states themselves have a structure and functionwhich accommodate the process involved in their formation9.Ideally, the structure of an intention contains sufficient informationabout, or the descriptions of, the event the agent will/may (ceterisparibus) cause. This information is put in terms of the means chosenIn what follows, a view of what items are required for any theory of action that is able toseparate actions from events is offered. Although action theorists will disagree about how thefundamental items that describe the cognitive antecedents to actions are to be understood, theywill retain functional versions of these fundamental components, even if they are disposed toeliminate some of them. For example, if a theorist wishes to say that desire is belief, then theywill describe the different functions that desire and belief perform in terms of belief. See CohnMcGinn. The Character of Mind, Oxford University Press, 1982; F. Dretske, ExplainingBehaviour: Reasons in a World of Causes, MIT press, Cambridge, 1988; John Searle.Intentionality: an Essay in the Philosophy of MInd, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,1983; J.J. Thomson, Acts and Other Events, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1977;and in particular, Donald Davidson, Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford University Press,1977 and S.C. Coval and P.G. Campbell, Agency in Action; The Practical, Rational AgencyMachine, Kiuwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1992.Chapter three, section one Page 120to the goal intended. And practical reasoning is the name of theprocess by which this identifying description is concatenated as“information in the intentional state. It is not controversial thatintentions are such states of agency’° nor that these states are at leastsometimes formed by a cognitive process which determines theinformation which is accepted by the cognitive state which can besufficient for action. Chief among the elements of this process is belief.And we may think of this element as an information receiver andpasser-on. Nothing sinister for anti-representationalists lies hidden inthis idea of information11Apart from this informational function,practical systems such as we (could there be agents which did nothave these functions?) have a function which can take up and pass oninformation not only to other informational or cognitive states but tonon-cognitive states as well. Without this last aspect, agents could notact on the world in just those ways which through the intended meanscause the intended goal.In short, then, we have the function which beliefs perform and thatwhich intentions and/or desires perform.It is possible that intentions may be caused by a process other than10 Only those who would eliminate the vocabulary of agents and actions altogether wouldquarrel with the relevant parts of what agency theory entails for pragmatism. But even theyretain the functions if not the full vocabulary of pragmatism; to go further would also eliminatepragmatism.Yet. Perhaps this is still too ominous. If representationalism must be taken to imply thatthere is a world that has a discoverable essence that is passively represented by knowers, thennothing contained in this thesis has anything to trouble anti-representationalists. However, itwill be argued that a world that is sufficiently in contrast to the mental must be something withindependent, functionally describable properties. This Deweyan view of the world (see the sectionon Dewey in chapter three) need not trouble anti-metaphysical pragmatists.Chapter three, section one Page 121practical reason. They could be, as it were, “parachuted” into usdirectly as the effects of Rorty’s “blind impress”. Such a system wouldstill be practical since it would cause an event which is intended to bea means to its goal; but it would not be rational. With a parachutedintention, reasons, or relevant beliefs, for the formation of theintentional state do not exist. What exists as antecedent for the“parachuted” case is a “blind”, non-cognitive “impress”. Where reasonsoperate, however, relevant beliefs about how to be goal-functional andother cognitive states were at work and a system which so forms itsintention is accordingly rational as well as practical’2.Not just any information, any beliefs, may be used and the systemstill be rational. Clearly, the system cannot be thought practical unlessit embodies the syntax of means and goals and other functions invirtue of which it is goal-functional. Practicality just is goal-functionality. If agents are successful at cognitively causing the eventswhich will satisfy their goals, then they are goal-functional. Similarly,then, the information which beliefs must pass on in order to qualify asrational must be information which one is justified in believing to begoal-functional. The idea that goal-functionality, or practicality, isauthoritative with respect to beliefs -- is what determines their truthand therefore is the goal of Reason -- is one of the main insights ofpragmatism. As Dewey put it, “Knowledge is power to transform theworld” 13• What beliefs contribute to goal-functionality is of course‘2There is no need, of course to believe that these descriptions, rational, practical, etc., arenot perfectly naturalizable. See, for example, P.G. Campbell, Rational and Irrational Agency,Ph.D. Thesis, UBC, 1994.13 John Dewey,Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 2, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, 1920. Reprinted in Philosophyin the Twentieth Century; An Anthology Volume One, Eds. William Barrett and Henry Aiken,Random House, New York, 1962, p. 325.Chapter three, section one Page 122limited to the function which belief can supply. The ideal of thatfunction is named rationality and is achieved in action when beliefs,or information passing, is goal-functional. Since it cannot be knownprior to the act whether the reasoning will be actually goal-functional,the ideal for reason in intention formation is to proceed in accordancewith beliefs (tried) about goal-functionality, i.e. with justified beliefs. Inthat case the process is rational.A vocabulary which places at its centre the conception of an agentwhich can realize its goals, i.e., can act (cause) successfully on itsintentions; identify the event(s) it will cause in order to realize thosegoals, i.e., have beliefs about means which can (in)form its intentions;form its own beliefs, as well as have them; form goals, as well as havethem, is a vocabulary that places at its centre a creature that isconsistent with the way that we describe ourselves-- a goal-functionalsystem; an agent.If such an agent may, in addition to merely having the belieffunction of information transfer, form its own beliefs guided only bythe requirement that it be goal-functional it will not only be capable ofmeans-end rationality, (which although still practical is limited by itspre-existing goals), but will also be capable an epistemic openness. Ifthat agent can, in addition to merely having goals, form them by theuse of beliefs such as these, it will, with the other features sketchedabove, not only be capable of goal-functionality, but of autonomy ofbelief and desire.We, however, do not for our purpose, need a full-blown or detailedtheory of agency and action14.Our purpose is to show that Rorty’s14 For such accounts see, G.E.M. Anscombe, Intending, Blackwell, Oxford, 1957; Bruce Aune,Reason and Action, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1979; Myles Brand, Intending and Acting, MIT Press,cambridge, 1984; s.c. coval and P.G. campbell, Agency in Action; The Practical, RationalChapter three, section one Page 123pragmatism, despite Rorty’s silence on the matter, must sit on thecomplex underpinnings of agency and action. Rorty’s pragmatismcannot describe its way out of the idea of goal-functionality and agencywithout thereby describing its way out of an interest in what it is to bepractical. And no pragmatism which prizes freedom and self-creationcan describe its way out of rationality and autonomy- those particularprocesses of goal and intention formation founded on belief. Rortycannot escape these concepts - they constitute his considerablemetanarrative. Furthermore, part of that metanarrative is obviously atheory of the core self, the contingent necessities of what we are if weare able to describe ourselves as goal-functional creatures.A clarification of what is meant by an “account of the self’ is inorder. Michael Sandel’s criticism of Rawlsian political morality, forexample, takes the idea of an “unencumbered self’ as conceptuallyincoherent. His argument for this conclusion depends on anequivocation between personal identity and ‘the self itself. Startingwith the Kantian conception of the self, which Sandel seesreappearing with slight alterations as the ground of Rawls’ normativeenterprise, he writesNo empirical end, but rather a subject of ends, namely a rationalbeing himself, must be made the grounds for all maxims ofaction.. .what is important to see is that the “we” who do thewilling are not “we” qua particular persons.. .but we quaparticipants in what Kant calls “pure practical reason”, “we” quaAgency Machine, Kiuwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, 1992; Donald Davidson, Essays onActions and Events, Oxford University Press, 1963-1978; Hector-Neri Castafieda, Thinking andDoing, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1975; Alvin Goldman, A Theory of Human Action, Prentice Hall,New Jersey, 1970; etc.Chapter three, section one Page 124participants in a transcendental subject15This is the Kantian metanarrative of the self. However, Sandel thenslips into claiming that this concept of the self cannot be renderedcompatible with our particular experience of ourselves as individualswith an identity.Can we view ourselves as independent selves, independent inthe sense that our identity is never tied to our aims andattachments? I do not think that we can, at least without cost tothose loyalties and convictions whose moral force consists partlyin the fact that living by them is inseparable from understandingourselves as the particular persons that we are- as members ofthis family or community or nation or people, as bearers of thathistory, as citizens of this republic....’6Sandel’s equivocation on whether the issue is an account of the ‘selfitself or an account of what it is to be a particular self leads him toreject the Kantian idea of “. . . a self understood as prior to andindependent of purposes and ends.. But if we are aiming for ametanarrative of the self, we cannot expect it to include those featuresthat make us the particular individuals that we are. The contingenciesthat give us a particular identity will be “...aims and interests I mayhave at any moment.. “18 and the contingencies that produced thoseaims and interests. The metanarrative of the self is not the narrative of.the particular persons that we are...” The metanarrative of the15 Michael Sandel, The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self, Political Theory,Vol. 12, No. 1, Ed. W. Connolly, Sage Publications, p. 90.16 Michael Sandel, Ibid., p. 86.17 Michael Saridel, Ibid., p. 86.18 Michael Sandel, Ibid., p. 86.19 Michael Sandel, Ibid., p. 86.Chapter three, section one Page 125self is an account of that without which each of us could not be thetypes of creatures that we are.In another context, Rorty labels Sandel “. . .an acute contemporarycritic of the liberal tradition... “2O Does he come to this judgement byoverlooking this equivocation in Sandel’s critique? Does Rorty makethe same equivocation? In paraphrasing the argument of ‘philosophers’as opposed to poets, Rorty writes: “. . .The mistake of poets is to wastewords on idiosyncrasies, on contingencies- to tell us about accidentalappearance rather than essential reality... Only poets, Nietzschesuspected, can truly appreciate contingency. The rest of us aredoomed to remain philosophers, to insist that there is ... one truedescription of the human situation, one universal context of ourlives...”21.Here the equivocation emerges. It is unnecessarilydisjunctive to believe that the appreciation of the metanarrative ofpragmatic creatures blinds one to the narrative of the lives ofparticular goal-functional creatures. Appreciation of the metanarrativemay actually enhance our ability to see narrative possibilities morecomprehensively.The above was meant to show that for Rorty’s pragmatic vocabularythere is, as a contingent necessity, a conception of the self whichcannot be abandoned without abandoning pragmatism. If words anddescriptions are deeds then there must be a way the self is in orderfor words to be deeds. If describing ‘is’ a a proper doing, is goalfunctional, then agency, belief and intention formation arepresupposed and no acts of describing can describe their way out of20 Richard Rorly, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University press, Cambridge,1989, p.46.21 Richard Rorty, Ibid., pp. 27-28.Chapter three, section one Page 126them. (Although we could be, as Rorty is, silent on the matter.)All vocabularies re consistent with Rorty’s pragmatism, whateverdifferences they may have, and whether or not they harbour theconception of goal-functional systems and their actions self-consciously, will be unable to to reject those notions, indeed will beprimed to accept it as the uses of vocabularies are considered actionsand the users, agents. When the time comes in which the uses ofvocabularies are considered events without that certain difference intheir etiology, none of the questions raised by Rorty or otherpragmatists of the sort that he is will even be phraseable.We now have a self which will persist through time, no matter whatelse history may bring, so long as there is description and/orvocabularies. But now there is also for that time the idea of a world inour vocabularies.The World Embraced (Not Lost)If actions are to be more than descriptions, then Rorty has the ideaof a world in his vocabulary. It is the idea of a realm that has asufficiently rich contrast with cognitive states. Rorty says his world isrelated by causation to our cognitive states and therefore to thevocabularies they cause. But this world does not have, we might say, anepistemic relation to the cognitive realm. The world cannot beTIrecognizedTT22 for Rofty. Thus it cannot be the function of our beliefsto give us information about this world. That would be a mirroring, arepresentational function for beliefs - and the world would thus beauthoritative for at least some beliefs. Their truth would consist in theprovision of information about that world. Truth for Rorty does not,22 An expression used by Rorty in conversation, March 1994, at UBC, to indicate his oppositionto representationalism of any sort.Chapter three, section one Page 127however, reside in the world. The representational function for beliefis to be eschewed; the world does not figure dominantly in thebelief/knowledge relation; knowledge/belief is not about anything. Theworld, however, is a causal factor, the blind impress of our beliefs.Now this is a Draconian position. In his attempts to keep the worldfrom having any role in the determination of the truth of beliefs Rortymust limit the relationship between them severely. Rorty insists thatthere is no way in which we may say “The world is...”; it cannot bedescribed. Nevertheless he wants to hold there is a world with causalrelations to vocabularies (through our cognitive states). Thisadmission, however, (to call it a description would be too quick) givesus access immediately to certain descriptions of the world. It must bea realm of particulars, housed in a way that makes particularitypossible and capable of change, similar in those respects to thecognitive states it may cause and be effected by. Further, it allows usmore articulated descriptions of these world particulars in terms ofthe cognitive effects they are believed by Rorty to cause. If I believethat p,then the world had an item in it of which it may be said that itcaused and therefore had the properties which explain the causation.But these descriptions will arise only if one allows causation betweenthe world and our cognitions çi an actual role for causation such as abasis for explanation. A parsimonious pragmatist who allows forconcepts and constructs only if they have some usefulness or“workability” would involve causation only if it had such a use. But sucha use can only arise if it is relatable/manifestible in some descriptionother than the bold claim that causation between the two realms is thecase. Otherwise that description has no connection and has no use.Neither then would the world, as a term in that useless relation, haveChapter three, section one Page 128a use.If, then, Rorty wants the idea of a world in his vocabulary-- the ideaof something other than his vocabulary-- he must embrace it andprovide it with a use. That use will at least be as explanans andexplanandum depending on which direction the causal relation runs.Otherwise he has a pragmatic dangler on his hands.To allow the world, something independent, constant in functionand sufficiently contrasting our cognitive states need not require us tolapse back into an Enlightenment-styled represeritational realism.Anti-metaphysicians, like Dewey23,had a view of the world that metthose conditions. However, we will turn now to see what is in store forRorty if he decides to drop the world altogether.The world eschewedThis argument is driving the point that if Rorty lets the world in aninch (i.e. through causation), then he lets it in a mile (i.e. lets itfunction explanatorily so that it is of some pragmatic use). Inrecognition of this Rorty could let go entirely of this idea of twoequally contrasting fundamental terms within his vocabulary admittingthat it was an Enlightenment leftover which he had missed. Or hecould claim that the idea of the world is not one of an extra-cognitiveor extra-vocabularic realm; rather it marks a distinction entirelywithin his vocabulary and makes its reference entirely within theterms of that vocabulary. The first alternative simply drops the word“world” from his vocabulary and ultimately becomes a variant on thesecond.The second alternative would land Rorty with a cognitivist (or23 See the next section of this chapter.Chapter three, section one Page 129idealist) picture. “To be is to be cognized”, or barbarically,vocabularized. Everything in the realm of discourse is reducible tobelief and/or vocabularies.There are problems with this position for Rorty if he wants toretain certain other parts of his discourse. We saw in chapter two thatif all terms belonging to a vocabulary are explicable and justifiableentirely in terms of that vocabulary-- if, that is, the vocabulary is itsown authority -- then cultural or vocabulary solipsism follows. Onecannot speak of other vocabularies in a sense which provides anequally rich contrast with one’s own. The idea of ‘other vocabularies’comes down to merely descriptions within the host vocabulary. Theidea that truth is relative to vocabularies is not then describable,except in this insufficiently rich sense. It seems that Rorty cannothold in place his cognitivism and vocabulary-relative view of truth if helets the idea of a sufficiently rich contrast with the cognitive go.A less striking problem is that Rorty cannot claim that the ideaactually expressed by the word “world” can be translated within theterms available in his cognitive-based vocabulary. On the alternativebefore us, Rorty would claim that “the world” may be the authority forour beliefs (vocabularies) but that “the world is belief?. True beliefs(vocabularies) would be those which were sanctioned by others - theauthoritative ones. As Putnam saw, this is a version of Moore’snaturalistic fallacy, what we might call the cognitivist fallacy. It isfallacious to deny that there is any rendering in which certain beliefsare authoritative for others but for which there is in turn no authority.Rorty, as we saw in chapter two, could, as a cognitivist, accept that theidea of the world is not the idea in common use. He could claim thecommonly used idea is an Enlightenment, metaphysical remnant inChapter three, section one Page 130which the contingency of the end point of justification is not properlyrecognized. I am claiming that the rejoinder fails to see that the issueis whether ultimate authority for our beliefs can reside in belief andpragmatism/agency be useful.Two final points on the status (in a pragmatism) of the idea of theworld as containing or constituting an equally rich contrast to thecognitive. Where our vocabularies and beliefs are taken to beconstitutive of the world, there will be no need for a two-function [thefunction of desire and the function of beliefj description of agency inthe vocabulary of such a cognitivist pragmatist. If this exclusivecognitirism works then the belief function which causes informationto be accepted or rejected, passed on or out, would be sufficient. Thedesire and intention functions which can accept information and becausal of its satisfaction through its effect on non-beliefs as well asbeliefs, is unnecessary. In a world of nothing but beliefs, nothing elseshould be required. “Actions’ become beliefs, or become descriptions.But in this attempt to describe pragmatic systems or agents in thissingle function way loses the conception of motivation or anythingother than relative strengths of belief. What you want or intendbecomes just what belief you will cause. Our “motivation” can be only tocause beliefs. We can have no possible contrasting motives.It is hard to believe that Rorty would countenance such a radicallydried up notion of agents and their worlds. On the contrary, allindications are that he intends to work with a robust pragmatism. Yetif he is to take this option, eliminating the possibility of the worldplaying an explanatory as well as a causal role, then his program is anidealist redescription of pragmatism. Instead of following thisrevisionary view of pragmatism into idealism, Rorty can maintain mostChapter three, section one Page 131of his anti-metaphysical commitments by taking a position, similar toDewey’s, where the world is an independent realm, sufficientlycontrasting the cognitive (and thus making sense of a two-functiontheory of action) that is more or less constant in function (thusfunctioning explanatorily as well as causally) but not necessarilyknowable in itself (thus consistent with his anti-metaphysical stance).“Usefulness”, it has been argued, presupposes a goal-functionalsystem (which we are) capable of goal-formation and realization of thatgoal through causation within a world which includes, but is notcomprised of that system. A goal-functional system is in a real sense ina world; and it must stand in or satisfy a relation to that world whichallows realization of its goals within that world. The ideas then ofagency (a goal-functional system) and the realization of goals and aworld in which both can be housed are co-relative, unable to exist inseparation. In the nexi section of this chapter, we will turn to apragmatist, John Dewey, who clearly does allow the world a role.So, we put Rorty and his agent vocabulary users back into a properworld since it is best expressive of the commitments he would leastwant to let go. This is a world in which agents exist along with otherswho are equally richly contained and with other objects equally rich inthe particularity required for causal relations to be capable ofinherence among all inhabitants.Chapter three, section two Page 1322] Dewey’s Narrative of PragmatismSection SummaryAccordffig to Dewey, there are two views of the worldand each pairs with two approaches to knowledge. Thecontemplative model has a spectator passively representingthe independent world. The experimental model offers afunctional description of the world. “In one case we aredealing with something constant in existence, physical ormetaphysical; in the other case, with something constant infunction and operation. One is a formula of independentbeing; the other is a formula of description and calculation ofinterdependent changes24.The contrasting picture whichleads into knowledge as contemplation, has the world withan ahistorical, independent essence(s) “accessible only toreason and ideal in nature... “25 Any program of philosophythat contributes to a conception of knowledge as static,which began with the ancients and continued throughout theEnlightenment, is to be rejected as a model for the dynamicrole that ‘reconstructed’, pragmatic philosophy should play.Seeing the world in terms of functional descriptions leads,hopes Dewey. to a more operative, experimental approach tophilosophical endeavour; “rationalizing the possibilities ofexperience, especially collective human experience”26.Ifthe world is already given, inquiry turns to finding onlyrelations between what is known instead of finding ways toadd to the stock of knowledge. For Dewey, philosophy,properly reconstructed “would be a logic of discovery, notargumentation, proof and persuasion”27. “Knowledge is24 John Dewey, The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 2, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., New York, 1920.Reprinted in Philosophy in the Twentieth Century; An Anthology volume One. Eds. WilliamBarrett and Henry Aiken, Random House, New York, 1962, p. 299.25 Dewey, Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 5, Ibid., p. 329.26JoDewey, Ibid., p. 330.Chapter three, section two Page 133power to transform the world”28 and to attain it requires usto interact with that realm rather than contemplate anddraw out the a priori relations between the parts ofsomething “readymade and final”29. According to Deweyphilosophical energy can be more fruitfully directed if weavoid the puzzles of epistemology, the relations betweenmind and world, subject and object, “which assumes that toknow is to seize upon something already in existence”30.This ‘spectator’ model of knowledge leads to an ‘atomization’of experience, on the empiricist side, and the ‘mythological’categories that allows us to synthesize these “isolatedparticulars”3’on the rationalist side. Pragmatism eschewsthese extremities and stipulates that the cognitive states‘truly’ described as “empirical” require both purposefulinteraction with matter and a cognitive apprehension“clothed in language, not in physical nakedness”32.Thesocial shaping of our cognitivity, brought about in our youththrough the inculcation of “interpretive concepts”33 insocial currency, are “. . .“categories” of connection andunification as important as those of Kant, but empirical, notmythological”34.So the community is a part of the authorityfor knowledge. Without the contribution of the categorieswhich allows the world to enter the cognitive in the form ofdescriptions, we would be left with only the “necessarystimulus”, sensations, which must be organized and27 John Dewey, ‘Some Historical Factors in Philosophical Reconstruction’, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 2, Ibid., p. 288.28 John Dewey,’Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real’, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 5, Ibid., p. 325.Dewey, Ibid., p. 329.30John Dewey, Ibid., p. 330.31 JohnDewey, Ibid., p. 312.32 John Dewey, ‘changed Conceptions of Experience and Reason”, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 4, Ibid., p. 316.JohnDewey, Ibid., p. 316.John Dewey, Ibid., p. 316.Chapter three, section two Page 134connected through these socialized categories before theycan really be the “true stuff of experience”35. “When theisolated and simple existences of Locke and Hume are seento be not truly empirical at all but to answer to certaindemands of the theory of mind, the necessity ceases for theelaborate Kantian and Post-Kantian machinery of a prioriconcepts and categories to synthesize the alleged stuff ofexperience”36.Dewey’s reliance on the categories producedby our socialization allows him to resist the ahistoricity inEnlightenment, or the spectator view, of knowledge.However, the interaction with the world which produces the‘necessary stimulus’ is taken to be the “primary fact, thebasic category”37.So the world is also part of the authorityfor knowledge. With these two components comprisingauthority, Dewey is able to account for the contingency ofknowledge-- our categories of interpretation, or as Rortywould put it, our vocabularies, are contingent products oftime and chance and yet a necessary condition for thepossibility of experience. There is a way to explain howdifferent vocabularies succeed each other on the dimensionof working better and this normative is not cast in purelyvocabularic terms. Our vocabularies work better when theyare more effective methods of “active control of nature andexperience”38.Our interaction with the world is a test ofour control of ‘nature’. Assigning a role to the world and ourvocabularies in the explanation of authority avoids theculturally solipsistic predicament by giving an authoritativerole to something that is not reducible to our vocabularies ata time and place and at the same time leaves room foralternative vocabularies.Therefore the anti-metaphysical, antiepistemological aspect of pragmatism need not lead into the35Jo1m Dewey, Ibid., p. 315.36Jo Dewey, Ibid., p. 315.37JoIin Dewey, Ibid., p. 314.38 John Dewey, Ibid., p. 330.Chapter three, section two Page 135elimination of the world as playing a role in determining theacceptability of belief. But if the world is to play this role,contrary to Rorty and Dewey, an epistemic relation to theworld is unavoidable. It is not epistemology in the sense thatthe spectator view would have it, a relation between a subjectand an unchanging, ahistorical object. It is an epistemicrelation in the sense that our sentences about the worlddescribe the functional rather than essential properties of arealm that sufficiently contrasts the cognitive.John Dewey, Rorty’s pragmatist forefather, offers two ways todescribe the world;In one case we are dealing with something constant inexistence, physical or metaphysical; in the other case, withsomething constant in function and operation. One is a formulaof independent being; the other is a formula of description andcalculation of interdependent changes.39Seeing the world as something with ‘independent being’ naturallyleads to a “contemplative” model of philosophical thought. Theinquirer takes the role of a passive spectator who attempts to mirrorthis realm and then proceeds to contemplate the a priori relationsbetween the various constituent parts of an independent world. This isachieve by dialectically manipulating beliefs. The contemplative modelposits that as creatures we are shaped by the process and result ofrepresenting the order given by a divine intelligence like God or adivinized faculty like Reason. The contemplative model views “theworld as... a fixed and comprehensive Mind or Reason.., the effect ofJohn Dewey,’The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 3, Ibid., p. 299.Chapter three, section two Page 136the objective theological idealism that had developed out of the classicmetaphysical idealism”40.In contrast Dewey wants a model that shifts our attention away fromfinal ends that are given by orders that are beyond our capacity toreshape. “It was not until ends were banished from nature thatpurposes became important as factors in human minds capable ofreshaping existence”41.This shift intends to put the emphasis on the“conditions of achievement”42rather than the process ofdemonstrating the essences of the world from metaphysicalspeculation.It will regard intelligence not as the original shaper and finalcause of things, but as the purposeful energetic reshaper ofthose phases of nature and life that obstruct social well-being.43Dewey individualizes this intelligence and prefers the“experimental” model. Francis Bacon is considered to be theintellectual prophet of this model. Bacon acted as an antidote to themetaphysical, a priori theorizing that predated Dewey’s ‘activereshapers’ and his agenda of “ever-renewed progress”44.Thecontemplative model continued to resist changing from contemplatingwhat is known to learning what experimentation can teach us.40 John Dewey, Some Historical Factors in Philosophical Reconstruction, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 2, Ibid., p. 297.41 John Dewey,The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 3, Ibid., p. 306.42 John Dewey, Ibid., p. 307.John Dewey, ‘Some Historical Factors in Philosophical Reconstruction, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 2, Ibid., p. 298.John Dewey, thid., p. 290.Chapter three, section two Page 137In any case, learning meant growth of knowledge, and growthbelongs in the region of becoming, change, and hence is inferiorto possession of knowledge in the syllogistic, self-revolvingmanipulation of what was already known- demonstration. Incontrast with this point of view, Bacon eloquently proclaimedthe superiority of discovery of new facts and truths todemonstration of the old.45When Dewey says “discover”, he does not intend to convey the ideathat the world is fixed and independent of our descriptions of it. Thissort of association with the word “discovery” is unfortunate, since it isin direct opposition to Dewey’s dynamic view of our capacity to shapethe world, through our vocabularies, into something that serves ournew and self-created ends. “Man is capable, if he will but exercise therequired courage, intelligence and effort, of shaping his own fate”46.Dewey, like Rorty, believes in and values self-creation. Dewey and thereshapers represented by the experimental model, speak about theworld only in terms of its effects on us. However, the world would notbe entirely ineffable and changeable. Dewey thinks we can speak of theworld as “. . .something constant infurtctiort and operationIn Dewey we find the will to reconstruct philosophy so that it cankeep pace with the appetites and temperament of a more creativereshaper of nature.It will regard intelligence not as the original shaper and final45John Dewey, Ibid., p. 289.25 John Dewey, Ibid., p. 296-297.John Dewey,The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 3, Ibid., p. 299.Chapter three, section two Page 138cause of things, but as the purposeful energetic reshaper ofthose phases of nature and life that obstruct social well-being.48Dewey’s ‘reconstruction of philosophy’, in essence, shifts ourattention from the contemplative to the experimental model ofinquiry.For Dewey, “Knowledge is power to transform the world49”and toattain it requires us to interact with that realm rather thancontemplate and draw out the a priori relations between the parts ofsomething “readymade and final”50. The experimental model beginswith the relation between the creature and the environment,The organism acts in accordance with its own structure, simpleor complex, upon its surroundings. As a consequence thechanges produced in the environment react upon the organismand its activities. The living creature undergoes, suffers, theconsequences of its own behaviour... Certain importantimplications for philosophy follow. In the first place, theinteraction of organism and environment, resulting in someadaptation which secures utilization of the latter, is the primaryfact, the basic category.5’Dewey allows this interaction between creatures and the world to be48 John Dewey,”Some Historical Factors in Philosophical Reconstruction, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 2,Ibid., p. 298.John Dewey,’Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real’, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 5, thid., p. 325.50Jo Dewey, Ibid., p. 329.John Dewey,Changed Conceptions of Experience and Reason”, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 4, Ibid., p. 313-314.Chapter three, section two Page 139the ‘basic category’, but it is, at most, a ‘means to’ rather than a ‘sourceof knowledge. When, for example, an infant puts its finger into aflame, the resultant sensation itself is not yet ‘experience’; “. . .the doingis random, aimless, without intention or reflection. But somethinghappens in consequence... the reaching and the burn are connected.One comes to suggest and mean the other. Then there is experiencein a vital and significant sense52”. Experience, for Dewey, is cognitive.The world does not confront us directly through ‘raw sense-data’.“Sensations are not part of any knowledge, good or bad, superior orinferior, imperfect or complete. They are rather provocations,incitements, challenges to an act of inquiry which is to terminate inknowledge”53.Dewey argues that when the empiricist “atomism ofsensations disappears... the necessity ceases for the elaborate Kantianand Post-Kantian machinery of a priori concepts and categories tosynthesize the alleged stuff of experience. The true stuff of experienceis recognized to be adaptive courses of action, habits, active functions,connections of doing and undergoing; sensori-motor coordinations54”.Instead of Kant’s universal conditions of possiblehuman experience, Dewey chooses to interpret the “categories” ashistorically specific.The conceptions that are socially current and important becomethe child’s principles of interpretation and estimation longbefore he attains to personal and deliberate control of conduct.Things come to him clothed in language, not in physical52 John Dewey, Ibid., p.314.JolmDewey, Ibid., p. 315.John Dewey,Ibid., p. 315-316.Chapter three, section two Page 140nakedness, and this garb of communication makes him a sharerin the beliefs of those about him... Here we have “categories” ofconnection and unification as important as those of Kant, butempirical, not mythological55.By his rejection of Kant56, Dewey eschews a metanarrative of theself. The categories of connection and unification are “socially currentand important”, not trans-vocabularic and trans-historical. Ourparticular ‘categories of interpretation’, as necessary conditions ofcognitive experience, have a primary role in shaping each cognitivemoment. Dewey stipulates that the cognitive states ‘truly’ described as“empirical” require both purposeful interaction with matter and acognitive apprehension “clothed in language, not in physicalnakedness”57.Our cognitions are shaped in two ways, one broughtabout in our youth through the inculcation of “interpretiveconcepts”58 and the other, by our purposeful interaction with theworld.In the experimental model, the active reshaper does not confrontthe world as a fixed realm of essences that is metaphysical andtimeless in its nature. The world is constant only in terms of itsJohnDewey, Ibid., p. 316.56 It is the rejection of the universality of the conditions of experience that distinguishes Deweyfrom Kant. He agrees with Kant, against “sensationalist empiricism”, that “. . . the temporal andspatial qualities are as much given in experience as are particular -- in fact, as I have been tryingto show, particulars can only be identified as particulars only in a relational complex’. JohnDewey, “The World as a Logical Problem” Essays in Experimental Logic, Dover Publications, Inc.,New York, 1953, p.292joim Dewey, “changed conceptions of Experience and Reason”, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 4, Ibid., p. 316.58 JohnDewey,Ibid., p. 316.Chapter three, section two Page 141functions and its ‘nature’ is a combination of our categories ofinterpretation interacting with these constant functions59.Cognizerscontribute their categories of interpretation. Without the contributionof the categories, which allows the world to enter the cognitive in theform of descriptions, we would be left with only the “necessarystimulus”, sensations, which must be organized and connectedthrough these socialized categories before they can really be the “truestuff of experience”60. “When the isolated and simple existences ofLocke and Hume are seen to be not truly empirical at all but to answerto certain demands of the theory of mind, the necessity ceases for theelaborate Kantian and Post-Kantian machinery of a priori conceptsand categories to synthesize the alleged stuff of experience”61.Dewey’s reliance on the categories produced by our socialization allowshim to resist the ahistoricity in Enlightenment, or the spectator view,of knowledge. However, the interaction with the world whichproduces the ‘necessary stimulus’ is taken to be the “primary fact, thebasic category’ ‘62To respect matter means to respect the conditions ofachievement; conditions which hinder and obstruct and whichhave to be changed, conditions which help and further andwhich can be used to modify obstructions and attain ends. Only59The world, for Dewey, exists in this way. See also John Dewey, The World as a LogicalProblem Essays in Experimental Logic, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1953, P. 281-302,where he argues against the idea that the existence of the world is should be seen as a problem.60 John Dewey,Changed Conceptions of Experience and Reason, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ch. 4,Ibid., p. 315.61Jo Dewey, Ibid., p. 315.62Jo Dewey, thid., p. 314.Chapter three, section two Page 142as men have learned to pay sincere and persistent regard tomatter, to the conditions which depends negatively andpositively the success of all endeavor, have they shown sincereand fruitful respect for ends and purposes. To profess to have anaim and then neglect the means of its execution is self-delusionof the most dangerous sort.63The world or matter has been de-divinized, but is still shown “sincereand fruitful respect”64 . The “dogma of fixed unchangeable types”65,aleftover from the theological transformation of ancient philosophy, isabandoned, but the world as a set of functions, the cause of ourcognitions and the testing ground of our vocabularies remains. Toallow the world to function authoritatively for our beliefs does notrequire that we see it, as the theologians or their ancientpredecessors did, in terms of a fixed set of essences. A sufficientlyrich contrast to the cognitive realm does not require a set ofahistorical essences. The contrast can be rendered in terms of thefunctional description of those constant causes which are independentof the mental. Rorty gives the impression that the contrast can bemade out only by allowing a robust metaphysics into the picture, butfollowing Dewey, the contrast can be made out in functionaldescriptions rather than metaphysical, timeless essences.With these two components comprising authority, Dewey is able to63 John Dewey, The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 3, Ibid., p. 307.64 John Dewey, The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, fromReconstruction in Philosophy, Ch. 3, Ibid., p. 307.65JoDewey, Ibid., p. 309.Chapter three, section two Page 143account for the contingency of knowledge- our categories ofinterpretation, or as Rorty would put it, our vocabularies, arecontingent products of time and chance and yet a necessary conditionfor the possibility of experience and knowledge. There is a way toexplain how different vocabularies succeed each other on thedimension of “working better” and this normative ideal is not cast inpurely vocabularic terms. Our vocabularies work better when they aremore effective methods of “active control of nature andexperience”66.Our interaction with the world is a test of our controlof ‘nature’: “. . .only consequences which are actually produced by theworking of the idea in co-operation with, or application to, priorexistences are good consequences in the specific sense of good whichis relevant to establishing the truth of an idea”67.The world, thoseprior existences that are not ‘ahistorical essences’, but rather,constant functions, is to play an authoritative role in the determinationof truth and knowledge.Assigning a role to the world and to our vocabularies in theexplanation of authority avoids the culturally solipsistic predicament bygiving an authoritative role to the world, something that is notreducible to our vocabularies at a time and place. At the same timegiving the world an authoritative role leaves room for alternativevocabularies, different ways of categorizing and interpreting which are“intelligently thought-out possibilities of the existent world which may66 John Dewey,changed conceptions of the Ideal and the Real, from Reconstruction inPhilosophy, ch. 5, Ibid., p. 330.67 John Dewey, What Pragmatism Means by Practical Essays in Experimental Logic, DoverPublications, Inc., New York, 1953, p. 319.Chapter three, section two Page 144be used for making over and improving it”68. Different vocabulariescan be distinguished as more than ‘constructions out of the hostvocabulary’69-- they become different constructions for interactingwith a world that is independent of our descriptions.Keeping the anti-metaphysical aspect of pragmatism does notrequire the elimination of the world as playing a role in determiningthe acceptability of belief. Contrary to Rorty and Dewey, if the world isto play this role, however, an epistemic relation to the world isunavoidable. It is not epistemology in the sense that the spectator viewrepresents it, a relation between a subject and an unchanging,ahistorical object. It is rather an epistemic relation in the sense thatour sentences about the world describe the functional rather thanessential properties of a realm that sufficiently contrasts the cognitive.Dewey overestimated the revision that his experimental model ofinquiry involves. In order to give the world a role and to let it functionin a way that makes causation meaningful, then the world explains thecognitions that it causes. Why don’t these sorts of descriptions amountto an epistemic relation to the world? Although Dewey’s prolongedattack on traditional ‘Epistemology/Metaphysics’ and Rorty’s trenchantcontinuation of that attack have given us reason to doubt traditionalmetaphysical moves, it does not follow that they have supercededepistemology70.Did psychology require a name change when the68 Dewey, Changed Conceptions of the Ideal and the Real, Reconstruction in Philosophy,Ch. 5, Ibid., p. 330.69 See chapter two.70 am not alone in thinking that Rorty has evaded the subject of epistemolgy. C. Taylor, Rortyin the Epistemological Tradition, Reading Rorty, ed. A. Malachowski. Oxford,Chapter three, section two Page 145theory that justified frontal lobotomies was abandoned? Epistemologydoes not have to be eliminated simply because the relation betweensubject and object is not that of a passive subject mirroring something“readymade and final”71.For Rorty, as we have seen, commitment to beliefs, not a relation tothe objects to which our beliefs refer, is the touchstone of ‘truth’. Thequestion ‘What is your final justificatory stand?” has become “Whereare your propositional attitudes planted?72”The world, for Dewey, isa realm where we experiment and test our descriptions. But instead ofallowing an epistemic connection between us and the world, Rortythinks that the only materials we have to judge the acceptability of ourbeliefs is by looking at our other commitments. Rorty writes,I shall end this chapter by going back to the claim, that has beencentral to what I have been saying, that the world does notprovide us with any criterion of choice between alternativemetaphors, that we can only compare languages or metaphorswith one another, not with something beyond language called“fact”73.Rorty’s approach lands us in the ‘cognicentric predicament’. If theBlackwell, 1990, P. 273.71 John Dewey, Ibid., p. 329.72 In an earlier article, Rorty writesI want to claim that “the world” is either the purely vacuous notion of the ineffable cause of senseand goal of intellect, or else a name for the objects that inquiry at the moment is leaving alone:those planks in the boat which at the moment are not being moved about. “The World Well Lost”,R. Rorty, The Journal of Philosophy, 69, 1972, p. 663.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony arid solidarity, Cambridge University press. Cambridge,1989, p. 20.Chapter three, section two Page 146only way that we can evaluate our beliefs is through other beliefs, theninquiry becomes dialectical not experimental. Dewey allows the worldto be “...something constant in function and operation...74andexperiments can be performed on that realm. But Rorty wants to blockthe recognition of any constants about the world, and about us.But if we could ever become reconciled to the idea that reality isindifferent to our descriptions of it, and that the human self iscreated by the use of a vocabulary rather than being adequatelyor inadequately expressed in a vocabulary, then we would at lasthave assimilated what was true in the Romantic idea that truthwas made rather than found75.If Rorty is embracing full contingency, then there will not beconstants about either us or the world. For Dewey, at least, the worldis ‘constant in function’ and this allows him a way of speaking about itand an authoritative role for the world in determining the usefulnessand thus, the acceptability of beliefs. Rorty, as we have seen, lets theworld dangle without a use.In the first section of this chapter, we saw from the ‘metanarrativeof pragmatism’ that there are some properties of creatures capable ofrational, autonomous goal-functionality, or practicality, that are also‘constant in function’. Rorty believes neither the self or the world areconstant in function, and this complete embrace of contingency leaveshis vocabulary without the contingent necessities needed to give anJohn Dewey,The Scientific Factor in the Reconstruction of Philosophy, Reconstruction inPhilosophy, Ibid., p. 299.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony rind solidarity,Cambridge University press, Cambridge,1989, p.7.Chapter three, section two Page 147account of action.In Dewey we have another part of the narrative of pragmatism. Theimportance of contingency is in place, for the ‘socially currentcategories of interpretation’ are a necessary condition of experience,and colour it in important ways. However, unlike Rorty picture,Dewey’s experimental model has an authoritative role that the worldplays in determining the acceptability of beliefs. This realm can onlybe described in terms that our categories of interpretation allow, butits independent constant functions allow us to make sense of ourdescriptions, our experiments, ‘working’ and ‘working better’.Our pragmatists cleave to contingency. So a theory whichmaximizes contingency while keeping the contingent necessitiesneeded to describe practicality should be attractive to them. Rortysees contingency everywhere. Agents, their beliefs and vocabulariesare contingent, and, he thinks, there is no story to tell about themupon which history or contingency does not freely operate. They arethemselves the progeny of contingency. As for the world, another termneeded by a pragmatist vocabulary, the arena within they must locateagents and their doings, it acts for them as the very river ofcontingency. But the world too has no story which must be told of it. Itis what we make of it according to Rorty. “The world does not speak.Only we do”76. And when we speak for it, the world does not “provideus with any criterion of choice between alternative metaphors”.77Dewey differs from Rorty on how the concept of the world works76 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 6.77Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 21.Chapter three, section two Page 148according to pragmatism. Both agree it is the arena in which actions,including vocabularies and all other goal-functional items are tested.For Dewey, however, the world is thus the arena of what is possible ingoal-functionality, or action. We, as agents, are the goal-wielders andthe world’s functionally describable properties can explain both oursuccessful and unsuccessful performances. For Dewey, the set ofbeliefs we amass from this interaction is a form of knowledge.Knowledge, albeit only knowledge of the functional contribution orresistance of the world, is possible. Only an unnecessarily restrictivedefinition of epistemology can prevent us from calling this a thinepistemic relation between agents and the world. Rorty, on the otherhand, seems not even to countenance this thin epistemic relation. Forhim the world is apparently not even describable in functional terms.There is no way, even in functional terms, to say that there is a waythat ‘the world is’.But this position in which the world is held to be the cause ofvocabulary by the thread of the causal relation alone cannot besustained by any pragmatist who is interested only in ideas that‘work’. This relationship, since it yields no descriptions of the world,fails a crucial pragmatic test: no descriptions - no use. Alternatively, ifthis sole relationship does generate descriptions then some epistemicrelation is admitted. The world is held to have a separate, albeitfunctional, nature to which the descriptions allowed must accord orfail.So the pragmatism that avoids idealism and maximizes contingencygives us the world and a thin cognitive connection to it. This maintainsChapter three, section two Page 149a flourishing role for contingency since it is we, the goal-functionalcreatures, who set the epistemic agenda. The questions of the worldare always and only raised by us in the terms which constitute ourcognitivity. To the extent that cognitivity is different among individualsand/or groups, the questions differ as will the answers. We have nobasis, as Dewey points out, contra Kant, to insist on a basic set ofcategories which will inform all of our questions and perceptions ofthe world. Cultural solipsism cannot arise in such a picture.While unbridled contingency may hold for some categories ofknowledge and perception-- or of vocabularies (as shorthand)-- itcannot hold for those who wish to have a vocabulary that is able todescribe an agent, or an action. Since vocabulary use is action, thereare limits to contingency if there are vocabularies, since withoutactions, there can be no vocabularies. There are contingent necessitieswithin vocabularies and contingent necessities that must obtain ifthere are to be vocabularies.Summarily then, any view which justifiably uses pragmatism needs aconception of actions as distinguishable from events. And even if thatview seeks contingency wherever it may be found, that view will finditself with a vocabulary which contains at least the following distinctbut, of course, interacting working items.1] A world of, for example, events.2] In that world, there will exist agents. Otherwise, there can be noproduction of events which are distinct in virtue of being caused byagency. Such events are described as actions and vocabularies.3] Causal relations between all members of that world.Chapter three, section two Page 1504] Descriptions of [1] and [2], since if they are terms in the vocabulary,they will have such uses and connections in the vocabulary.51 At least a thin epistemic relation between [1] & [2].6] The entailment of a metanarrative which describes the necessity of[1]-[5]Armed with this vocabulary and its self-conscious entailments, itsmetanarrative, we may now proceed to look at the normative issuecentral to Rorty’s concerns, the protection and furtherance of liberalinstitutions.Chapter three, section three Page 1513] How the Metanarrative of Pragmatism Connects With BasicRightsSection SummaryWith this description of an autonomous, rational, goal-functional agent who shares a world, an equally richcontrasting realm to the cognitive with other agents, wehave a set of contingent necessities available on which tobuild our normative enterprise. Postponing the question ofwhether we should actually protect these features which arepresupposed by pragmatism, we turn now to theimplications of ‘what we are’ for an account of basic rights.When the components of an autonomous, rational, goal-functional agent are analysed, we can draw tight connectionsbetween these features and the protections offered by thefamiliar core of liberal non-interference rights to freedom ofthought, expression, association, the press and religion.Because these rights are useful for protecting the processesand functions identified by the metanarrative, they can bejustified in a manner that is not available to other rights suchas distributional rights arising out of accounts ofdistributional justice. When it is claimed that liberal rightsmust show each of us equal respect, the content of thenature of the self that emerges from the pragmaticmetanarrative can articulate what it is that is shown equalrespect. In this way, the metanarrative of pragmatism can beseen to play a deepening role in liberal theory that Rorty hasbeen unable to produce.On the basis of the metanarrative of vocabularies that are richenough to describe pragmatic creatures, “what we are”, we turn nowto questions concerning the content of “what should be the case”. ThatChapter three, section three Page 1 52is, what does “what we are” tell us about “what should be the case”?The metanarrative of pragmatism describes the structure of what itis to be a practical agent. This ‘thin’ description of the core self thatmust be in place for practicality to be describable may appear to be tooabstract an idea to justify any substantial normative content. Whenintroduced to this idea, the very defensibility of this metanarrative maylead readers to suspect that its uncontentiousness is a sign of itsemptiness. However, it will be shown that protecting the process ofgoal-functionality can explain and justify a set of ‘liberal’ basic rights. Aset of normative implications will be drawn from the requirements ofprotecting the processes involved in goal-functionality. In section fourof this chapter, we will address the issues raised by the possibleacceptance of these rights as part of a political morality. However,before we face the task of arguing for the acceptance of these rights,an analysis of which rights are implied by the desire to protect ourgoal-functionality, or what normative consequences we will be asked toaccept, is in order.Some terminology is required. A right is a justified or validclaim’78, held by the individual, that has a certain threshold weightagainst collective considerations79.Rights that are useful in78 s•c• Coval and J.C. Smith Law and its Presuppositions : Actions, agents and rules Routledgeand Kegan Paul, London, 1986, P. 67. The issue of collective rights, a recent development in theliterature, requires separate treatment. See W. Kymlicka, Liberalism, Individualism andMinority Rights, Law and the Community; The End ofIndividualism?, eds. A.C. Hutchinson andL.J.M. Green, The Carswefl Company, 1989, pp. 181-204; M. McDonald Should CommunitiesHave Rights? Reflections on Liberal Individualism, Canadian Journal ofLaw andJurisprudence, Vol. 4, no. 2, Ed., M. McDonald, 1992, Offprint.R. Dworkin Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1977, p. 15.Chapter three, section three Page 153adjudicating conflicts have some assignable weight or rank when theycome into conflict with other goals. For our purposes, two levels ofrights are required. “Basic” rights will have enough weight to outrankall but the most urgent social goals80, “derivative” rights are validclaims that give rise to duties unless those duties conflict with basicrights.To avoid the suspicion that we are helping ourselves to anEnlightenment idea of rights, such as the property rights that JohnLocke thought were a dictate of “natural reason” and God81, let usconsider what a naturalized account of rights would be. If there arewe-intentions (this is phrased conditionally since we defer theargument that these rights should be accepted until the next sectionof the chapter) that are in operation in a society, then there are twomessages signalled by the use of ‘right’ to describe a we-intention.First, rights are held by individuals (the new idea of group rights willbe discussed below) and second, serve to limit the legitimate use ofstate power or to invoke the use of state power in light of the contentof the right. A mobility right, for example, makes state action thatimpedes mobility illegitimate and/or requires the state to take actionto remove an impediment to mobility. In short, a non-Enlightenmenttranslation of a ‘right’ is just a commitment, widespread enough to beproperly considered a we-intention, that is of sufficient (comparativecausal) strength to outweigh all but the most urgent we-intentions.Related to the idea of rights is the idea of freedoms. For example80 R. Dworkin Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1977, p. 15.81 John Locke, “The Second Treatise on Civil Government; Of Property” On Politics andEducation, ed. Howard Penniman, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., New York, 1947, p. 87.Chapter three, section three Page 154the Canadian Charter82 describes the limits of state power in terms ofa set of Rights and Freedoms. Although no real rationale is offered forthis distinction, we might pause to consider two senses of freedomwhich map onto these different ways in which an individual’s validclaim, a right, may be recognized. Freedom, as in “freedom to...”, or asIsaiah Berlin put it, “Positive freedom”, is the purview or range of goalsthat we can intelligently consider. That is, it is believable that thosegoals are non-actual and causable by us. The other sense of freedom,Berlin’s “Negative freedom”83,which is the sense that we will usewhen describing non-interference rights, is the property of operatingstandardly or without impediment, as in “The object fell freely” (i.e., itdid not hit any other objects, it was not held up by a parachute, etc.).When we are within the vocabulary of rights, ‘freedom’ is usually usedin the negative sense. Perhaps the Charter uses the positive sense offreedom when it, for example, lists certain education ‘rights’ in one’snative tongue as a ‘right’ that emerges once there exists a populationexceeding a certain threshold84.Such a rights is a right that requiresthe government to do something, to provide a service, rather thansimply refrain from interfering.Cortstitutiort Act 1982, RSC 1985, Appendix II, No. 44, Schedule B, Part 1, Canadian Charterof Rights and Freedoms”, section 6.83 Isaiah Berlin, “Two Senses of Liberty’, as Berlin wrote,”The sense of freedom in which I usethis term entails not simply the absence of frustration but the absence of obstacles to possiblechoices and activities.” Quoted in Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard UniversityPress, Harvard, 1977, p. 267. As Dworkin put it on the same page; ‘I have in mind the traditionaldefinition of liberty as the absence of constraints placed by a government upon what a man mightdo if he wants to.”Constitution Act 1982, RSC 1985, Appendix II, No. 44, Schedule B, Part 1, “Canadian Charterof Rights and Freedoms’, section 23.Chapter three, section three Page 155If we are articulating which rights are implied by the we-intentionto protect the features of practical creatures that are identified by themetanarrative of pragmatism, we need to recall the features that areconstitutive of autonomous, rational goal-functionality. The distinctionbetween basic and non-basic rights will be made by looking at therequirements for action, intention formation and desire and beliefformation. These are the essential features of goal-functionality andwill be the basis of our separation of basic from non-basic rights. Otherrights, such as positive rights to certain services, will not be essentialto our goal-functionality and will thereby not be basic rights.The structural properties of rational, autonomous goal-functionalagents include the following functions:1] Belief: States that are capable of accepting and transferringinformation. Beliefs are (informational) states which are involved inintention formation at their output end and with perception andexchanges with other beliefs at their input end. For a goal-functionalor pragmatic system beliefs are ideally functional or true when theircontribution to the formation of an intention is explanatory of thesuccess of an intentional action; i.e., when they are goal-functional; andthey are false when the failure in goal-functionality is ascribable tothem.2] Desire (motivation) and intentions. These states are at leastcapable of accepting information and causing events. When we have adesire to cause some event that has the properties identified by theChapter three, section three Page 156content of the desire (a goal) and the contributing belief states suchthat we believe that we will produce the means to a goal and we havereached a threshold state of causal readiness, then we have anintention. An intention85 is successful or goal-functional, or an act isintentional, when the change in the world is explicable in terms of thecausal role of that state and the change in the world occurred as it wasdescribed/represented in the intention. Practicality, or goal-functionality, is the process where agents cause the events which aremeans to various ends.3] Rationality; is a certain cognitive means to goal-functionality. It is anormative function which controls the other cognitive functions; forexample, the believability of beliefs and the desirability of desires. Inshort, rationality is either commitments or theories at a level whichcan function to control other cognitive states. Rational practicality isthe process whereby the means to various ends are normativelyevaluated. Since it cannot be known prior to the act whether thereasoning will be actually goal-functional, the ideal for reason inintention formation is to proceed in accordance with (tried) beliefsabout goal-functionality, i.e. with justified beliefs. In that case theprocess is rational. Ideally, rationality is that process whereby certainbeliefs control other beliefs and desires so that they are goalfunctional.4] Autonomy: If an agent can, in addition to merely having goals due toImmediate as opposed to future intention.Chapter three, section three Page 157other causes, form them by the use of beliefs, it will, with the otherfeatures sketched above, not only be capable of goal-functionality, butof autonomy of desire and similarly of desire. Rationality can operateon the process of cognitive goal-formation too. When that is the case,agents will choose their goals in light of commitments or theories andwe may say that they are rationally autonomous. Rational autonomy isthe choice or creation of goals through the use of normative beliefs.[We are reminded, then, that our descriptive enterprise is modular innature, capable of describing goal-functional creatures, rational goal-functional creatures, and autonomous, rational, goal-functionalcreatures.]With this numbered summary of the features of autonomous [4],rational [3], agents [1 &2] we move now to the connections betweenthe metanarrative of pragmatism and the protection of this process. AsI have already said, arguments addressed to the actual acceptance ofthese rights will be advanced in the next section of this chapter.If we were to become committed to protecting (equally) agentswith properties [1-4], then we can see the justification for rights tofreedom of thought, speech, the press and association. When agentsare rational, they will want to form beliefs with the best meansavailable to determine their believability, which requires access to thewidest commerce of beliefs. The commerce of beliefs cannot berestricted, whether through suppression of speech, the press orassociation of persons, without leaving agents with an inferior meansChapter three, section three Page 158available to assess the believability of their beliefs, or the desirability oftheir desires. Since thought, speech and association cannot berestricted without restricting this means (the widest commerce ofbeliefs), such freedom is to be protected if we are to protect thisfeature of rational, autonomous, goal-functional agents. If religion ispictured as a source of belief options, it too can avail itself of thisjustification, and freedom of religion can be justified in light of theprotection of the belief-forming (and thereby desire and intentionformation) mechanism of creatures like us. The protection of existingreligious beliefs and the formation of new ones is, in our time,primarily a protection of narrative beliefs and their formations. Inother times more than narrative beliefs were thought to be protectedby the assurance of religious freedom.Although [1-4] dovetail on this issue, out of particular concern forthe desire function [2], we can see the justification for the right to [thepursuit of] happiness. Notice that the protection of [2] implies theprotection of freedom of action, which is the means to the satisfactionof desires, but does not give one the rights to have those desiressatisfied. Actual desires are not part of the metanarrative, they are apart of the distinct particularity that gives us a personal identity, anarrative for our lives. Furthermore, such a provision, providing for thesatisfaction of our desires would go around the process of goalfunctionality, that is, it would deliver the satisfaction of the agent’sdesires rather than protecting action, the means through which eachcould act in the pursuit of the satisfaction of those desires themselves.No matter what particular content agents’ desires have, agents willChapter three, section three Page 159want to have the means to pursue those desires protected. No suchcommonality can be found for any set of of de facto desires that agentsmay have at a particular time and place nor therefore for thesatisfactions that such desires will require. Of course some desiresmay have, in comparison, a kind of commonality and permanence thatother desires will not have, given the types of biological requirementsthat we find ourselves with as humans. This distinction is useful for atheory of needs. However, our needs are not essential to our natures asdescribers and it is possible to think that we could describe our wayout of them. Imagine this example, adapted from H.L.A. Hart86, wherecreatures are able to receive their sustenance from breathing the air.Or, less fantastically, imagine the South Seas Islanders who enjoy theabsence of scarcity in matters pertaining to food. These sorts ofcreatures or Islanders would not need the protection of a positiveright to a minimum amount of food. They could be goal-functionalwithout requiring such a protection. So protecting the means topursue happiness, such as freedom of action, can be seen to connectdirectly with our nature as rational, autonomous, goal-functionalcreatures. We cannot, however, trace the right to a threshold level ofthe satisfaction of our desires, such as a welfare entitlement, to thismetanarrative alone, it must also be supplemented with some narrativedetails to fill out the justification. This difference in justification,however, in no way precludes obtaining a historically conditionedsolidarity around a package of welfare rights. It simply draws ourHart, “The Separation of Law and Morals’, Harvard Law Review, Vol. 71, No. 4, eds.A.N. Enker and AR. Miller, Harvard University Press, Feb., 1958, pp. 593-629.Chapter three, section three Page 160attention to the difference between rights that can be connected tofeatures that we cannot describe our way out of and rights thatconnect with extremely important concerns that we have enduringcommitments to maintaining. But if we are to take contingencyseriously, we must conclude that our needs are not fixed in the sameway that our metanarratives are fixed.Rights to be free of assault, coercion or injury and the right to befree of unjustifiable imprisonment can be traced to and found essentialfor the protection of [2]. In protecting [2] we protect the output of thecognitive states 11-4] and thereby protection of [21 is required in orderto protect [1-4] too.We see that the contingent necessities which form the thinmetanarrative of autonomous, rational, goal-functional creatures can bethickened into a normative program by drawing out, in the vocabularyof rights, the kinds of protections required by all creatures identifiedby this metanarrative. The thickening shows that the familiar noninterference rights, the familiar core of liberal basic individual rightscan be tightly linked to our autonomous, goal-functional core selves. Ifwe are belief/desire forming creatures, it is reasonable to predict thatthe means to protect those formations will be valued by any creaturethat is self-conscious of, and wants to protect, their core selves. Wewill say a little more on this strategy of moving from an ‘is’ to an‘ought’ in section four of this chapter. For now, we only need concludethat respect for the goal-functional process, if it obtained, wouldrequire the protections afforded by these non-interference rights.Chapter three, section three Page 161We cannot expect the transition from the structural properties ofautonomous, rational, goal-functional agents to this account of basicrights to be followed by an equally tight transition to actual agreement.However, the liberal tradition may have primed some of us, at thishistorical period, to make such a transition. H.L.A. Hart writes that thephilosophy of government in England and America has evolved into a‘new faith”,that the truth must not lie with a doctrine that takes themaximization of aggregate or general welfare for its goal, butwith a doctrine of basic human rights, protecting specific basicliberties and interests of the individuals, if only we could findsome sufficiently firm foundation for such rights to meet somelong familiar objections.. •87If we have solidarity, at this historical point, around the idea that apackage of individual rights could be justified f we could find someaccount of our natures that we cannot describe our way out of, thenthis analysis may contribute to the increase and expansion of a liberalsolidarity. This argument takes as its target those who claim that thefaith that Hart describes is misguided, since we are contingentthrough and through. The most philosophically adept member of this“communitarian”88group is Rorty, and in countering his claim that87 H.L.A. Hart, Between Rights and Utility The Idea ofFreedom: Essays in Honour of Isaiah.Berlin, ed. by A. Ryan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979, P. 77.88 Michael Sandel, “The Procedural Republic and the Unencumbered Self, Political Theory,Vol. 12, No. 1, Ed. W. Connolly, Sage Publications; W. Kymlicka, Liberalism, Individualism andMinority Rights, Law and the Community; The End ofIndividualism?, eds. A.C. Hutchinson andL.J.M. Green, The Carswell Company, 1989, pp. 18 1-204; M. McDonald Should CommunitiesChapter three, section three Page 162there is no acceptable account of the ‘self itself, (and thereby nomeans available for satisfying the aspirations of the “new faith”), we areproviding some renewed ‘liberal hope’ for the ‘new faith’ Hartdescribes.Have Rights? Reflections on Liberal Individualism, Canadian Journal of Law andJurisprudence, Vol. 4, no. 2, Ed., M. McDonald, 1992, Offprint.Chapter three, section four Page 1634] The Metanarrative and the Justification of the Basic Rights ofLiberalismSection SummaryWe find ourselves, as particular individuals, withcommitments to a vocabulary and terms in that vocabularywhich shape our lives. In reminding us of the contingency ofour commitments, Rorty emphasizes the contribution thatthe ‘blind impress’ of causation makes to this picture, andheightens our appreciation of how history might haveimpressed very different commitments upon us than theones we have at present However, Rorty does not eliminatethe possibility of altering that blind impress through theprocess of redescription, and allows for an account ofautonomy or self-creation, where we attempt to track homethe “blind impress that all of our behavings bear”. However,for Rorty this process does not culminate in a ‘discovery’about a set of continuities behind the web of beliefs anddesires that each of us are, instead, it is part of an ultimatelynon-teleological process of description and redescription.When it is countered that there is a metanarrative of the self,a description of what it is to be an autonomous rational, goal-functional agent, a description that describers cannotdescribe their way out of, it becomes possible to ground anaccount of political morality upon these contingentnecessities. The metanarrative is presupposed in everynarrative that describes creatures capable of practicality andsome reasons are given to think that this dependency willbe, once recognized, causal of solidarity around the basicrights of liberalism. These basic rights are useful for thefurtherance and the protection of the basis for narratives ofwhatever stripe. If we wish to expand the scope of our ‘weintentions’, that is, if we want to promote, or to be causal of awider solidarity, it is more likely that we will be able to dothis on the basis of features recognized as shared across thespecies of describers. If agents are self-conscious of thesefeatures, if they recognize that there are descriptions ofthemselves that they cannot describe their way out of, thenChapter three, section four Page 164it is more likely that there will emerge agreement to ascheme of rights to protect those features. Themetanarrative will not stand in a justificatory relation to all ofthe commitments we may wish to further in the realm ofwe-intentions. Metanarratively implied rights do not settleall questions that the narratives of our political lives willraise. It ‘plays favourites’ with those commitments thatprotect the structure of goal-functionality. Rorty, who wishesto be a liberal without any metanarrative, will be contrastedwith this view. In conclusion, the relative pragmatic meritsfor the protection and furtherance of liberal institutionsbetween this account and Rorty’s account will be compared.Rorty is a liberal, although his explanation of his liberalism doesnot rest on any account of what we are, for he rejects that there is a‘self behind the tissue of contingencies that form our finalvocabularies. We just are those vocabularies, or as he puts it,“incarnated vocabularies89”.To be autonomous is to engage inredescribing the blind impress that chance has given each of us. ForRorty, this redescription does not have a telos such as self-knowledge.However, through redescription we are able to alter this blind impressand this capacity allows us to speak of autonomy and responsibility forour autonomous choices.• . Nietzsche did not abandon the idea of discovering the causes ofour being what we are. He did not give up the idea that anindividual might track home the blind impress all his behavingsbore. He only rejected the idea that this tracking was a processof discovery. In his view, achieving this sort of self-knowledgewe are not coming to know a truth that was out there (or in89 Richard Rorty, Contthgency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 80.Chapter three, section four Page 165here) all the time. Rather he saw self-knowledge as selfcreation.. 90 .Autonomy is not something which all humans havewithin them and which society can release by ceasing to repressthem. It is something which certain particular human beingshope to attain by self-creation and which a few actually do.. •91If our commitments are not fixed by the blind impress, then we arecapable of choosing our commitments, describing our way into some,and redescribing our way into others. As individuals we haveresponsibility for our intentions, and as a society, for our we-intentions.Our commitment to some beliefs can be described in terms of theirrelation to certain other beliefs. Our commitment to the belief that weshould attend a lecture can be traced to a belief that the speaker hascertain properties which are believed to be desirable. This belief aboutthe desirability of those properties can be traced, in turn, to stillfurther beliefs. Eventually this process alights upon beliefs that cannotbe traced to further beliefs. For the Enlightenment, these beliefs weredescribed in foundational tenns92. Rorty’s anti-foundationalismrejects this model. Instead of seeing these beliefs as foundational, hesees them as marking the limit of the cognitive process, they arefundamental cognitive items which form our “final vocabulary’. Wecannot imagine defending these beliefs on the basis of non-circular90 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 27.91 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 65.92 See, for example, Lockes use of God and natural reason as the foundation of rights. JohnLocke, The Second Treatise on Civil Government; Of Property On Politics and Education, ed.Howard Penniman, D. van Nostrand Company, Inc., New York, 1947, p. 87.Chapter three, section four Page 166argument.All human beings carry about a set of words which they employto justify their actions, their beliefs, and their lives. These arethe words in which we formulate praise of our friends andcontempt for our enemies, our long-term projects, our deepestself-doubts and our highest hopes . . .1 shall call these words aperson’s final vocabulary. It is “final” in the sense that if doubt iscast on the worth of these words, their user has no non-circularargumentative recourse. Those words are as far as he can go withlanguage; beyond them there is only helpless passivity or a resortto force. A small part of a final vocabulary is made up of thin,flexible and ubiquitous terms such as “true”, “good”, “right” andbeautiful”. The larger part contains thicker, more rigid and moreparochial terms, for example, “Christ”, “England”, “professionalstandards’, “decency”, “kindness’, “the Revolution”, “theChurch”, “progressive”, “rigorous”, “creative”. The moreparochial terms do most of the work.93Rorty’s description of that “small part of a final vocabulary (that]is made up of thin, flexible and ubiquitous terms such as “true”, “good”,“right” and beautiful”94will also include “cruelty”. It is not a thicker,more ‘parochial’ term like “...for example, “Christ”, ‘England’,“professional standards”... The more parochial terms do most of thework”95.These ‘parochial’ terms are thicker because they are deeplyembedded in their historical context and take their meaning fromRichard Rorty, Ibid., p. 73.94Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 73.95Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 73.Chapter three, section four Page 167their relations to other specific, historically-conditioned beliefs. Touse ‘England’ as a final vocabulary item that explains actions requiresthat we make reference to “England’s” historical relations, theparticulars with which it is embedded, to the ‘empire’, the ‘club’, the‘class’ and the ‘school’. The thicker, goal-producing terms, fleshed outwith reference to particular historical information, help to explainmany of our choices and actions. Good, right, and true are “thin” itemsin our final vocabularies because the goal-production that they explainis not as particularized to the information found within a specifichistorical period or group.To explain how the thinner terms, ideals such as good, rightand true, and their contraries, bad, wrong and false, are explanatory ofaction requires an account of how they interact with the thicker termsin our final vocabulary. The content of what counts as being cruel, theparticular examples of cruelty, will be embedded in a particular,historically specific context. It is cruel to send the elderly onto icefloes unless you are a part of a vocabulary that is much different fromthose of western, liberal democracies. Examples of what counts as truewill also not be expressible apart from particular historicallyconditioned beliefs. These particular examples of cruelty, likeparticular examples of truth, are relative to vocabularies developed at aspecific time and place. What is considered cruel will depend on whata culture takes to be cases of harming and pain causing. However,there is also a structure of how these words work. There is anormative component in truth that, as we saw in chapter two, makesChapter three, section four Page 168that concept difficult to naturalize only in terms of actual beliefs thatare held to be true at a particular time and place. Similarly, cruelty, asit is also a normative concept, the gratuitous denial of satisfactionand/or gratuitous harming/pain-giving, resists naturalization in termsof the particular beliefs about what counts as cruel at a specific timeand place. While the content of what counts as cruelty is relative to ahistorically conditioned vocabulary-- what members of that vocabularytake to be cases of harm -- the structure of cruelty, how the thin termcan take on the content of harm in different vocabularies but stillfunction in the same way, overlaps across different vocabularies.Because of this structural component in the idea of cruelty, like thestructural component in the idea of truth, both ideals cannot benaturalized in terms of particular beliefs held at a specific time andplace.Rorty wants a distinction between creatures that can suffercruelty arid humiliation and those that cannot. Further, he does notwant to commit himself to a metaphysical essence that underwritesthis distinction. Rorty relies on some view of why humans can “suffera special sort of pain which the brutes do not share with the humans --humiliation”96.Of course, Rorty resists any implication that thisdistinction commits him to a metaphysical conception of what we are.“The liberal metaphysician wants our wish to be kind to be bolsteredby an argument, one that entails a seif-redescription which willhighlight a common human essence, an essence which is somethingmore than our shared ability to suffer humiliation”97.For Rorty, this96 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 92.Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 91.Chapter three, section four Page 169distinction does not commit us to a “common language” but instead‘just susceptibility to pain”98.The type of argument that was advanced on behalf of thecontingent necessities that must be in Rorty’s vocabulary if he is to beable to give an account of “works” can be repeated at this juncture.Rorty is open to just this sort of move when he admits that “...feelingsof solidarity [i.e., “we should avoid cruelty”] are necessarily a matter ofwhich similarities and dissimilarities strike us as salient, and that sucha salience is a function of a historically contingent final vocabulary”99.There need be no ahistorical necessity, or a reliance on timelessessences to make the point that vocabularies that are rich enough torealize a description of cruelty will require some other terms in theirvocabulary. Rorty himself shows an openness to this line of argumentwhen he writes;It does not matter if everybody’s final vocabulary is different, aslong as there is enough overlap so that everybody has somewords with which to express the desirability of entering intoother people’s fantasies as well as one’s own. But thoseoverlapping words-- words like “kindness” or “decency” or“dignity” -- do not form a vocabulary which all human beings canreach by reflection on their natures100.There is no need to posit an extra-vocabularic human essence todescribe contingent necessities. These contingent necessities form a98chd Rorty, Ibid., p. 92.Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 192.100 Richard Rorty, Ibid., pp. 92-93.Chapter three, section four Page 170metanarrative for each different vocabulary that has the commoncapacity to describe certain things. If a vocabulary is capable ofdescribing ‘works’, it will have the terms required to distinguish actsfrom other events. All vocabularies that have the capacity to describepragmatic creatures will ‘overlap’, or have in common, this distinction.In virtue of this overlap, there is a metanarrative of practicality.Analogously, to have the idea of cruelty in one’s vocabulary will alsogive rise to certain contingent necessities. If cruelty is the gratuitousdenial of satisfaction and/or gratuitous harming/pain-giving, thenthere must be a creature or creatures that are describable as havinginterests -- some motivations that can be frustrated. If we are to haveideas like cruelty and practicality in our vocabularies, then there aresets of ideas to which we are then committed. Theseinterdependencies suggest that there is a core to vocabularies withcertain capacities, a ‘core self, for example, but this core self is not, asthe Enlightenment pictured it, a timeless, immutable, human essence.Instead, it is a set of constant functions that must be in place if we areable to do things, like speak of cruelty and practicality, within ourvocabularies.We cannot conclude that the commonality of this idea indifferent historically conditioned vocabularies points to the ahistoricalnecessity of this concept. Rorty may be quick to remind us thatnecessity is relative to our interests. Perhaps we may becomecreatures that are not interested in the interests of others. If thatcontingent possibility obtains, we may no longer have the terms in ourvocabulary that allow us to speak of cruelty. But if we are interested inChapter three, section four Page 171cruelty, we cannot maintain that interest and abandon the self-description of ourselves as creatures with interests. Further, wecannot be interested in reducing cruelty without allowing into ourvocabulary the idea of others as creatures who have interests andwhose interest can be affected by our actions. There is no need tothink that we have discovered the timeless “human essence”101,butthis is the “core self’ that stands within the vocabulary that is richenough to speak of cruelty.We might, of course, redescribe ourselves in a way that loosensourselves from these thick terms, and perhaps, even some of the thinterms. This sort of autonomous self-creation is something that only a‘few actually do’102. So we have an account, in functional terms thatRorty could accept, of what amounts to the process of justification; theformation of beliefs by other beliefs.Rorty allows that inferences based on justificatory relations arepossible. Commitments to specific acts can be traced, by patterns ofinference to other beliefs, which in turn can be traced to yet otherbeliefs. A long as this process is not seen to terminate in ‘self-evidenttruths’ or ‘truths of reason’ that might be used in some form ofEnlightenment foundationalism, the inferential patterns found withinvocabularies are legitimate.If Rorty is right that there can be no account of ‘the way the worldis’ or ‘the way the self is’, then there can be no foundationalism thatgrounds our final vocabulary upon essential, certain, truths. As a101 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 192.102 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 65.Chapter three, section four Page 172society, we should not look for charter or “... a lading list which was acopy of the universe’s own list.., to know the truth.. ,“ 103 instead, oursociety should be, as Proust was, “. . .unashamed of his ownfinitude...”104.We need “...an increasing sense of the radical diversity ofprivate purposes, of the radically poetic character of individual lives,and of the merely poetic foundations of the “we-consciousness” whichlies behind our social institutions” 105• What contemporary liberalismneeds is a conversation with new vocabularies, the playing off of ourinstitutions against utopias envisaged by those who are trying to workout new vocabularies: “. . .[M]oral philosophy takes the form of historicalnarration and utopian speculations rather than the search for generalprinciples”06. The turn, or reform, that political morality shouldtake, is to move away from the foundational project inherited from theEnlightenment towards a historically self-conscious description andredescription through new metaphors so that liberalism can continueto do the good work that it does.If Rorty is “. . .content to treat the demands of self-creation andhuman solidarity as equally valid, yet forever incommensurable... “b07 itremains to be seen how one is able to adjudicate conflicts when theydo occur. He does not want, or have a metanarrative that helps usweigh the conflicting demands of self-creation and solidarity aroundliberal institutions when they do come into conflict. Without a103 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 27.104 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 102-103.105 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 67-68.106 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 60.107 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. xv.Chapter three, section four Page 173metanarrative that generates and underwrites some normativepremises promoting his liberal position, Rorty cannot outflank criticsof liberal• . . a liberal society is badly served by an attempt to supply it with“philosophical foundations”. For the attempt to supply suchfoundations presupposes a natural order of topics and argumentswhich is prior to, and overrides the results of, encountersbetween the old and new vocabularies.. .Instead [she] would dropthe idea of such foundations. [She] would regard the justificationof liberal society simply as a matter of historical comparisons withother attempts at social organization- those of the past and thoseenvisaged by utopians.. .This would mean that liberalism could notbe justified, and Nazi or Marxist enemies of liberalism refuted bydriving the latter up an argumentative wall- forcing them to admitthat liberalism has a “moral privilege” which their own valueslacked... any attempt to drive one’s opponent up an argumentativewall fails when the wall against he is driven comes to be seen asone more vocabulary, one more way of describing things...’09Either Rorty adopts a metanarrative and explains why thepublic/private split is something that we should not abandon, or hemust allow that self-creators, who prefer Nazism over liberalism, areentitled to pursue their projects of self-creation into the public realm.Rorty eschews the former option and hopes that appealing to thepoetic visions of our literary moral advisors will help us to avoid thelatter scenario.108 See, in particular, the problems that Rorty has with Foucault in chapter four.109 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 53.Chapter three, section four Page 174I also said that literature and politics are the spheres to whichcontemporary intellectuals look when they worry about endsrather than means. I can now add the corollary that these are theareas to which we should look for a charter of a liberal society. Weneed a redescription of liberalism as the hope that culture as awhole can be “poeticized” rather than as the Enlightenment hopethat it can be “rationalized” or “scientized”110If circularity or repetition is ever the right move, then it is not at thepoints Rorty allows, viz., liberal beliefs about rights, institutions, etc.For Rorty, these institutions themselves are fundamental points ofcommitment.Such fragile, flawed institutions, the creation of the last threehundred years, are humanity’s most precious achievements.. [thebest means] . . .to Rawls’ two principles... [it is] possible that theymay vanish by the year 2100 [there is].. .nothing to prevent thefuture being, as Orwell said, “a boot stamping down on a humanface forever” Nothing is more important than the preservation ofthese liberal institutions.111But in the previous section of this chapter I argued that there is a layerof cognitive connection beneath these commitments to liberal rightsand institutions - our understanding of what we are as goal-functionalcreatures or agents. For Rorty, there is no cognitive move to be madein further support of liberalism112 For those of us who agree with this°Richard Rorty. Ibid. p. 53.Richard Rorty. Thugs and Theorists: A reply to Bernstien, Political Theory vol. 15 no. 4,Nov. 1987, P. 567.Chapter three, section four Page 175position, there is. For Rorty our having landed in liberalism is anhistorical accident; for us liberalism is the outcome of not just anyhistory, but of a certain cognitive one with fairly irresistibleconnections to certain fundamentals of liberalism.Solidarity, convergence in belief, is an index that tells us that thesebeliefs are working. Solidarity shows us that these beliefs have beentested and found goal-functional for many agents. So when weencounter the considerable solidarity around liberal institutions, thereis evidence that liberal institutions connect with the way agents seethemselves and the world. “Liberalism works” because it interacts withthe two realms identified in the metanarrative of pragmatism. Theworld has some constant causal routes. Descriptions do not catch on,do not enter our solidarity, without hooking onto those causal routes.Solidarity around functional descriptions of the world is evidence thatthese descriptions are beliefs that work for many goal-functionalagents. Liberal institutions enjoy a convergence of support because ofthe way they interact, perhaps even help to express, a functionaldescription of ourselves113• Why are the familiar rights to noninterference protections that are a part of the solidarity of so manyagents? They are found useful for agents no matter what particularnarrative they may be pursuing. In all of the experiments in livingundertaken by the diverse set of goal-functional creatures, there aremetanarratively describable commonalities, ‘contingent necessities’,that obtain and are protected by these basic rights. Each diverse112 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University press, 1989, p. 67-68.113 See the section on Habermas in chapter four.Chapter three, section four Page 176experimenter who finds these protections useful adds to the solidarityaround these rights. Having made the connection between these rightsand a metanarrative of what it is to be a goal-functional creature isadding a further cognitive layer that is instrumental to protectingthese liberal institutions. There is more than poetry behind our “we-consciousness”.In contrast, Rorty believes that redescribing the blind impress thathistory has handed us does not culminate in a ‘discovery’ about a set ofcontinuities behind the web of beliefs and desires that each of us are,instead, it is part of an non-teleological process of description andredescription. Rorty’s elimination of the possibility of discovering theself can be diagnosed as a consequence of the way that he construes‘an account of the self. As we saw in the last section, a metanarrativeof the self, contra Sandel, need not specify any particular desires orbeliefs as the goal of its inquiry, instead, the structure in which suchbeliefs and desires can be realized is the goal of understandingselthood itself. While this may not be a ‘discovery’ in the sense thatthis account of the self exists antecedent to, and independent of ourpractices. But it is a goal of inquiry, a possible ‘discovery’, that can beattained by sufficient self-consciousness by those in vocabularies thatallow for autonomous, rational goal-functionality. Once achieved, thismetanarrative of the self can stand as a cognitive basis for theprotection and furtherance of the basic rights that form the core ofliberalism.Unless we are metaphysicians or theologians, it is a contingencyChapter three, section four Page 177that goal-functional creatures like us have occurred. A biological typelike ours might have evolved into creatures who were not goal-functional, surviving perhaps, through some complex set of reactiveinstincts, uncontrollable through cognitive states. There is, then, nopretension to an ahistorical necessity when we say “creature like us”.So when we say that goal-functionality requires something, this is notto be understood as suggesting that there is some ahistorical necessityabout this requirement. Rather, it is a relation of necessity arising outof the contingent circumstance of there being selves which, if they aredescribable at all, are describable in terms of their goal-functionality. Itis a historically conditioned necessity whose occurrence is contingentupon the existence of creatures with these properties.However, once the claim that there is no metanarrative of the selfis countered, it becomes possible to give an account of a set of rightsthat need to be protected if we agree to protect the structure that allcreatures capable of practicality share. You cannot be a thinking,describing, language-using, conscious creature and not be goal-functional. If you want to protect what you are, and you are self-conscious about the connection between the metanarrative and thesebasic rights, can you coherently reject a commitment to those rights?A contingency that faces us is the gap between the justification of anormative claim and that claim actually being binding on the relevantagents. No theory about ‘the best way to live together’ can claim to beable to ‘wring assent from a stone’114, Rorty is alive to this sort ofcontingency when he writes that the “overlap”“ between our114 Roscoe Pound, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law, 1954.Chapter three, section four Page 178different final vocabularies may “. . .not produce a reason to care aboutsuffering.. •“ 16. The egoist, engaging in prudential reasoning to theexclusion of the interests of most, if not all, others can resist anypremises that have as their outcome a diminishment of the egoist’sinterests. No argument can force the egoist to care. However, egoistsbenefit from there being some we-intentions in place. But while theegoist knows that can be advantageous to defect, the egoist cannothave that view become general without a diminishment of hisinterests. So let us leave the egoist’s position to the side, for there islittle reason to believe that egoists want their position to be ourpolitical morality. Instead, we begin with the fundamental question ofpolitical morality, which can be put in this form, “Given that we dowant to live together, what is the best way to live together?” Noticethat this question, like the very idea of a ‘we-intention’ itself, impliesthat the answer must be something that we would be able to reachagreement upon. And if we are trying to get as much agreement aspossible, if we wish to have as many individuals signal their willingnessto let the normatives so chosen be causal for them, we will try to findsome answer that can be agreed to by as many agents as possible.Since the metanarrative is presupposed in every narrative, and thisdependency can be recognized, the possibility of agreement to thesebasic protections is made more likely. Since each agent, despite thediverse nature of their particular narrative, will be using themetanarratively identified features in the pursuit of goals, whatever115 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University press, 1989, P. 92.116 Richard Rorty, Ibid., p. 93.Chapter three, section four Page 179they are, the protection afforded by the implied basic rights will beuseful for every agent.“What is the best way to live together?” is the fundamental questionof political morality. If you are committed to protection the kinds ofcreatures that each of us are, then the related terms required toexpress what we are must be clarified. If, as a Dewey might say, we arecreatures that are autonomous and practical, the implications ofagreeing to protect such a creature will lead us directly to the rightsidentified in the last section of this chapter. The basic rightsidentified as justified by the metanarrative of pragmatism do not settleall of the questions that that fundamental question raises. It onlysettles the question of which rights are necessary if we are to protectthose features which are necessary for practicality. There may be otherthings that we wish to protect or further too. The rights implied bythe metanarrative of pragmatism, because of their intimate connectionwith what each of us is (and presumably each of us wants ‘what we are’protected) is very likely to get the agreement that such standardsrequire in order to be useful we-intentions. So the metanarrativelyendorsed rights are a necessary part of the answer to “what is the bestway to live together” if we are committed to protecting what we are. Asufficient answer to the question will involve many narrative detailsabout what we happen to value at this historical moment. Therefore nosufficient answer to the question can be drawn from the implicationsof the metanarrative alone.This distinction between an account of rights that are a necessarypart of the answer to questions of political morality117 and answersChapter three, section four Page 180from rights alone that are sufficient to settle questions of politicalmorality needs a little reinforcing. H.L.A. Hart, in his critique ofNozick, writesEven if a social philosophy can draw its morality as Nozickassumes only from a single source; even if that source isindividual rights, so that the only moral wrongdoing consists inthe wrongs done to individuals that violate those rights... [shouldthose rights be purely, as Bentham called them, negativeservices of others, {or as we have been calling them, noninterference rights}]?’ 18Hart believes that Nozick is mistaken in believing that individualrights provide sufficient resources to settle issues raised by thequestion, “What is the best way to live together?” Hart’s diagnosis is onthe mark. But Nozick, it should be recalled, is writing at an historicalmoment when theorists took on the task of providing completealternatives to the then dominant utilitarian views.In the conflict between the Egalitarianism of Rawls9 andDworkin-20 and the Libertarianism of Nozick-21-, a symmetry ofjustification that is relevant to our distinction between necessary andsufficient answers presents itself. In justifying a Libertarian state, witha minimum of redistribution and a maximum of economic liberty,117 Which is Ji that is claimed for the rights identified by the metanarrative of pragmatism.118 H.L.A. HartBetween Rights and Utility The Idea ofFreedom. Essays in Honour ofIsaiahBerlin, ed. by A. Ryan, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1979, p. 81.119John Rawis, “A Well-Ordered Society, The Cambridge Review, Basil Blackwell, 1975, pp. 44-99.120 Ronald Dworkin, Taking Rights Seriously, Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1977.121 Robert Nozick, Anarchy, State and Utopia, Basic Books, New York, 1974.Chapter three, section four Page 181Nozick argued for a ‘thick’ conception of the individual, and thereby, aconception of justice controlled by the implications of his scheme ofindividual rights. For Nozick, an individual’s talents and abilities aremorally significant to how the individual must be treated, and thisthick concept of the person limited the legitimate range of the state’sredistribution activities. As correlative ideas, the ‘thickness’ of themoral space occupied by the rights of the individual left only a ‘thin’area in which the state could legitimately operate. Thus the“nightwatchman state”, which exists mainly to protect eachindividual’s rights to non-interference and the orderly transfer ofproperty, is the only state thin enough to fit in the space left byNozick’s thick theory of individual rights. In symmetrical contrast, thebasic rights that are justified by Rawls and Dworkin do not include theextensive property rights that add the thickness to Nozick’s scheme ofbasic rights. This ‘thinness’ in Rawis and Dworkin’s basic rightsscheme leaves more moral space open for the distributive activitiesundertaken by the ‘thicker’ state. The redistribution necessary toachieve egalitarian aims, then, can be accomplished without anyviolation of individual rights. In the Libertarian scheme, individualrights are thick and the state is thin. In the Egalitarian scheme, thestate is thick and individual rights are thin.Both of these schemes supply theories of both distributive justiceand individual rights. Given the influence that these streams ofthought in liberalism have had, one might be led to expect that everytheory of liberalism would take on the task of justifying both a theoryof individual rights and a scheme of distributive justice. As we, andChapter three, section four Page 182Rorty, can appreciate, it is a contingency that liberal theory developedthis way. While that contingency may shape our expectations about thecontent that a political morality does advance, it need not control ourview of what a defensible liberal political morality must advance. Themetanarrative of pragmatism does not imply both a scheme of basicrights and a theory of distributive justice, but it does provide a basisthat implies enough normative content to be recognizable as a liberalpolitical morality. Note too that these ‘thin’ rights exist in the overlapof agreement between Rawis and Nozick. The claim that these basicrights go to a justification that is more fundamental than othernormative standards can explain this agreement between these twocontrasting theorists, and explains why Rawis thought that in cases ofconflict between his first principle (liberty) and his second principle(the ‘maximin’ criterion of distributive justice), that the first principleis to take priority. A plausible explanation of the fact that agreementon these basic rights is more solid than agreement on distributivejustice questions is that these rights connect with more fundamentaland common aspects of each of us. There is no need, on thisvocabulary based approach, to invoke Enlightenment authorities, andclaim that these rights are guaranteed by a foundationalism startingwith “natural reason” or “God”.Rorty writesExpanding the range of our present “we” {the we-intention to beliberals] . . .is one of the two projects which an ironist liberaltakes to be ends in themselves, the other being self-invention.Chapter three, section four Page 183(But by “end in itself’, of course, she means only “project which Icannot imagine defending on the basis of non-circularargument”.)’22If we are to expand the scope of our liberal we-intentions, it seemsprobable that finding a justification that picks up on features acrossthe set of describers will promote or be causal of a greater amount ofexpanding solidarity than justifications that require a sharedappreciation of some particular, historical causation.It is central to the idea of a liberal society that, in respect towords as opposed to deeds, persuasion as opposed to force,anything goes. This openmindedness should not be fosteredbecause, as Scripture teaches, Truth is great and will prevail,nor because, as Milton suggests, Truth will always win in a freeand open encounter. It should be fostered for its own sake. Aliberal society is one which is content to call “true” whateverthe upshot of such encounters turns out to be. That is why aliberal society is badly served by the attempt to provide it with“philosophical foundations”. For the attempt to provide suchfoundations presupposes a natural order of topics and argumentswhich is prior to, and overrides the results of, encountersbetween the old arid new vocabularies.123The rights to non-interference set out as implications of themetanarrative of pragmatism do not override the results of encountersbetween old and new vocabularies. They enable there to be the122 Richard Rorty, Coritingertcy, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University press, Cambridge,1989, ftn. 24, p. 64.123 Richard Rorty, Ibid, pp. 51-52.Chapter three, section four Page 184conditions where the freedom of expression necessary for suchencounters is in place. The rights articulated make it possible to seewhy it ‘should be so that ‘persuasion rather than force’ is the rule inliberal society. Although such commitments can be, as they are forRorty, commitments which rest on no further beliefs, if themetanarrative of pragmatism and its implications are accepted, thenliberals can justify these commitments by appealing to thepresuppositions of all vocabularies and all describers. If ametanarrative of pragmatism is allowed, then we have a further layer ofreasons to justify where our commitments lie. If we wish to expandliberalism beyond the borders of current liberal socialization, as Rortydoes, this extra cognitive layer’s pragmatic credentials are assured.Rorty imagines that there will be future intellectuals who will have,as he already has, given up the quest for any further cognitive layer ofjustification for liberal institutions.In the ideal liberal society, the intellectuals would still be ironist,although the non-intellectuals would not. The latter would,however, be commonsensically nominalist and historicist. So theywould see themselves as contingent through and through, withoutfeeling any particular doubts about the contingencies that theyhappened to be... Such a person would not need a justification forher sense of human solidarity, for she was not raised to play thelanguage game in which one asks and gets justifications for thatsort of belief...124If we do become the types of creatures who do not ask the kinds of124 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 87.Chapter three, section four Page 185justificatory questions that we, at present, often do, then the relationof the metanarrative of pragmatism will no longer be of any interest.But as a historical contingency, we have been socialized into believingthat a justification that can go an extra cognitive layer is a betterjustification. How else can we explain the popularity of the neo-Kantianpolitical philosophy of Nozick, Rawis and Dworkin? We put people injail, give and take away opportunities, and tolerate social unrest andeconomic damage all in the name of the rights that are the core of ourliberal institutions. Can we wield such powerful instruments ‘withoutfeeling any particular doubts about the contingencies that theyhappened to be. ..1125? It takes a certain lack of self-consciousness touse coercion to achieve some ends, which is an integral part ofgovernment, including liberal governments, “without feeling anyparticular doubts...”126 about the justification of such measures.If a pragmatist wants to protect liberal institutions and help themto flourish, and there is an available justification for why thoseinstitutions should be preserved, then why would that pragmatistabandon it?There is, then, an historical narrative available about theattractiveness of rights that protect the goal-functional process. Ifagents believe that they require a process to get any satisfaction fromthe exercise of their abilities, it is empirically probable that they willwant to take steps to protect that process. When that belief is causedby the recognition that there is a metanarrative which applies to all125 Richard Rorty, Ibid. p. 87.126 Richard Rorty,Contingency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989, P. 87.Chapter three, section four Page 186members of the set which participate in the common practice oftrying to live together, liberals may find their commitment and otherswillingness to agree to such protections enhanced by the availability ofsuch a justification. Of course, this degree of self-consciousness may,contingently, not obtain in any given society. But when it does, itseems probable that it would be causal of a greater amount of solidarityaround this package of rights. If we wish to widen the scope of ourliberal we-intentions, providing a cognitive means for all agents, eventhose with entirely different socializations, to come to agreement onthese basic rights, the metanarrative of pragmatism is a useful tool.Since it is the case that we cannot expect agreement on everything,it is inevitable and even justifiable to concede to disagreements onthose things that do not conflict with the metanarrative. It is a goal ofthis thin scheme of rights to produce the protection of a maximumrange of goal-functionality compatible with a like protection for all.There will be many political concerns and questions that cannot beresolved by the materials of the metanarratively implied rights. If therights that are identified by the metanarrative of pragmatism really arefundamental, if they are really normative claims that are based onthings that we cannot describe our way out of, then this is just whatwe should expect. As goal-functional creatures, we are very plastic, andour actual goals do and will change dramatically. What does not changeis that we are goal-functional, and since that fundamental property ofus is only the metanarrative, and not the narrative of our lives, weshould not expect it to figure in all of the answers that are grappledChapter three, section four Page 187with in the realm of political morality. In those areas left open, issuesnot settled by basic rights, contingency reigns. Perhaps poets will bethe advisors who fill in this content. But if the liberal institutions thatare to host such a change are to survive, pragmatic liberals should usethe best resources available to keep agents committed to thoseinstitutions. To do that job, until our socialization changes intosomething resembling Rorty’s ideal liberal society, a metanarrative ismore useful than poetry.Room for irony about the types of liberals that we are is available onthis view. We may be in a state of commitment to the basic rights, andthereby liberalism, but we may at the same time have ‘indissolvabledoubts about our commitments to, for example, distributive justiceschemes, but find ourselves acting on those doubtful answersnevertheless.With the thin basic rights in place, we can continue self-creating,enjoying the freedom necessary for such pursuits in the private realm,and extend our self-creation as far into the public realm as themetanarratively endorsed rights allow. Here we have a way to get thepragmatic benefits of contingency, the new descriptions that emergeout of self-creation, without the need for the arbitrary introduction of apublic/private split. He claims that the public and private realms are“forever incommensurable” 127• Interestingly, Rorty himself does notthink that this public/private split can stand without a further layer ofcognitive justification. This is surprising in light of Rorty’s other claimthat “I shall try to show that the vocabulary of Enlightenment127 Richard Rorty, thud., p. xv.Chapter three, section four Page 188rationalism, although it was essential to the beginnings of liberaldemocracy, has become an impediment to the preservation andprogress of democratic societies” 128 This appeal to a concept thattranscends both spheres, using “incommensurability” and backslidinginto the style of justification that he wishes to describe as an“impediment”, shows the firm grip that such justificatory practiceshave on so many of us at this historical moment. Ironically, there is ajustification for the public/private split that does not require someessentialist view of the properties that differentiate our public andprivate vocabularies. They are both, after all, beliefs differing only inthe audiences that they are intended to attract. It is the metanarrativeof pragmatism that implies that we should protect the belief-formingmechanism of goal-functional creatures, and that in order to do thateffectively, we should allow as much room for experimentation aspossible compatible with respecting the symmetrical rights of others.We wondered, in chapter two, if there was anything that is beyondthe scope of irony . Since Rorty does not think that he is committed toa metanarrative, he will claim that there is nothing that is deeper thanthe contingent words that form our particular final vocabularies.Although he finds considerable overlap in our final vocabularies on theimportance of “avoiding cruelty”, and therefore chooses that ‘thin’item to support an allegiance to liberal institutions, he sees no furthercognitive resources available to justify why we should not be cruel.Since the basis of Rorty’s liberalism is only this contingent belief that‘cruelty is the worst thing that we do’, Rorty recognizes that we may128 Richard Rorty,Contirigency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 44.Chapter three, section four Page 189lose that commitment, for it arose by historical accident andserendipity is keeping it in place. Liberalism, for Rorty, is well withinthe grasp of irony, and the public/private distinction is a way to keepthe serendipitous result of our history in place, but it too is within thegrasp of irony. Rorty can’t give an account of why ‘incommensurability’will suffice as a means to justify protecting this partition in place,since to do so will force him into giving a metanarrative explainingwhy these two spheres can’t he compared. For Rorty, everything isvulnerable to redescription.Yet we have found something that no describer can describe hisway out of, since it is required for the very activity of description itself;the metanarrative of pragmatism. If describing is a ‘doing”, if “wordsare deeds”, then we cannot self-consciously use a vocabulary withoutalso realizing that we are acting. Even the arch-ironists, the masterredescribers, cannot redescribe their way out of what is required fordescription. But if this metanarrative cannot be redescribed away, thenit remains in place regardless of the changes that may occur in ourfinal vocabularies. In that sense, it is deeper than our final vocabularies.It is beneath description. At this limit of contingency, there is aborder that irony cannot cross. If we cannot describe our way out ofthe contingent necessities of description, then we cannot use thecontingency-belief to produce ‘indissolvable doubts’ about thismetanarrative. Rorty believes he needs the public/private distinctionbecause he thinks that the contingency-belief can be used to describeour way out of anything, including a commitment to liberal institutions.But if the implications of protecting the metanarratively identifiedChapter three, section four Page 190elements of our core selves really are the basic rights of liberalism,then those who are sufficiently self-conscious about the metanarrativeof describers, of description itself, will find a limit to the power ofredescription, and a deeper cognitive layer to justify their solidarityaround the basic rights of liberalism.Chapter four, section one Page 191Chapter Four; LiberalismChapter SummaryWe turn now to Rorty’s critique of Foucault, Dworkinand Habermas’ positions on political morality.Rorty’s critique of Foucault is that his objection toliberalism rests on a “core self’. Rorty claims that Foucaultsmetaphysical remnant of the self is something which hasproperties that are independent of acculturation and thuscan be deformed by acculturation. It has been shown inchapter three, however, that Rorty’ own view can passmuster as a describer of contingency within the context ofgoal-functionality only with his own reliance on a core self. Acore self, comprised of the contingent necessities requiredto describe a creature capable of practicality, is required inthe vocabulary to which Rorty seeks commitment. So whileRortys attack on Foucault’s radical rejection of we-intentionsis plausible, he cannot consistently criticize F’oucault for themere presence of a core self.Habermas too is thought to have a metaphysicalremnant in his view. Habermas values ‘free and opencommunication, contingently, as does Rorty, but in additionas a means to an ‘end-of-history’ convergence. In thiswriter’s view, universal, or even widespread, convergence ofbelief is a mark of those beliefs ‘working’ or being goalfunctional. What reason do we have to believe that the pointsof convergence will stop changing and that the convergencewill be universal? To know that there will be a finality ofconvergence, one would have to glean that from the worldsessence, as it were -- that it was so and it would continue asit was -- that it itself is nomological. For Rorty this is arepresentationalist move with a metaphysics behind it. IfHabermas is to avoid such charges he should hold, along withthe view advanced here, that the functional properties of theworld are the testing ground for beliefs. Our categories ofinterpretation may forever keep improving or changing andthat would keep final convergence from obtaining. For that toChapter four, section one Page 192be otherwise, one would have to know when one had formedthe ‘best possible’ vocabulary. Changes in the world’sapparently ‘constant functions’ might be undetectable to usat this moment in history. Moreover, the ultimate pattern ofthe functions of the world may themselves change. Thereforeeven if the questions remain the same, the answers maychange. All we are entitled to believe that we know is whatwe have gained from testing, interacting with the worldthrough action. There is likewise no apparent reason tobelieve that convergence of beliefs would become universalthrough open inquiry. Although Habermas does not explicitlystate that the world has an essence, he implicitly relies onthat idea when he sets his ‘end-of-history’ convergence asthe criterion of truth. Rorty is right about Habermas’ hiddenmetaphysics, anything so static as an end-of-historyconvergence would require that the world be law-like andthat we know those laws. Such an anticipation would bebased on a metaphysics.Dworkin protests that he is describing the practicesaround which contemporary liberal society is convergent. Ingiving a principled account of this convergence he believeshimself to be neutral on metaphysical matters. Rorty mayhave been misled by Dworkin’s earlier writings and bemistaken in diagnosing a metaphysical element in Dworkin’scurrent work. If we take Dworkin at his word, however, amore serious problem emerges. If he is just describing ourpractices, albeit at a more abstract level than we are perhapsaccustomed to, a ‘principled’ level, what is the prescriptiveforce of such a description? Should we stay true to ourhistory just because it is our history? If that were the case,we would have never reached the liberal institutions towhich Dworkin is committed. Taking convergence as a signthat s1ome beliefs are working does point us in the directionof a further cognitive layer. If liberalism works, if it is a set ofbeliefs that attracts, and keeps attracting more solidcommitment, then we can explain that convergence byreference to the metanarrative. Liberalism works becauseliberal rights protect the process of goal-functionality. ItChapter four, section one Page 193hooks onto the functions that comprise the metanarrativelydescribable way that we are and allows us to interact withthe world and each other in a way that furthers one of ourprimary functions, the formation and testing of beliefs.While Rorty is adept at diagnosing metaphysicaltendencies in various writers, he has not sufficientlydiagnosed his own hidden metanarrative of pragmatism. Themetanarrative does not frustrate Rortys main goals, and heneed not resist embracing it. It allows for solidarity, since itis presupposed in the very idea of creatures that form beliefsand thus creatures who can converge around beliefs. It allowsfor contingency, since the properties it ascribes to us arethose properties which make it possible for us to change thecontent of our cognitive states. It even helps to explain whywe are driven, in our interaction with a recalcitrant world, tochange. Finally, since it does not fix the answers to any butthe most basic of our questions, it allows for irony. We willlikely always act with an awareness of the contingency of ourcommitments, with doubts about those parts of our finalvocabularies left, as they must be, undetermined by themetanarrative.Chapter four, section one Page 1941] FoucaultRorty writes approvingly of historicist thinkers:They have denied that there is such a thing as “human nature”or “the deepest nature of the self’. Their strategy has been toinsist that socialization, and thus social circumstance, goes allthe way down- that there is nothing “beneath” socializationor prior to history which is definatory of the human1.However, some historicists have not become self-conscious enoughabout the traces of metaphysics in their views. As indicated in theprevious chapter, Rorty, through his commitment to a vocabulary thatis rich enough to describe pragmatic creatures, also relies on a view of‘the way we are’. Nevertheless, when Rorty turns his attention todiagnosing the ‘hidden metaphysics’ in other theorists, his acutenessas a critic is clearly demonstrated.Foucault is, according to Rorty, an “ironist without being aliberal”2. Like all ironists, Foucault has rejected therepresentationalist picture which posits a representational relationbetween beliefs and their justifiers. Instead, he is interested inredescribing truth in terms of the interests that it serves.Each society has its regime of truth, its “general politics” oftruth, that is, the types of discourse it harbours and causes tofunction as true; the mechanisms and instances which enableone to distinguish true from false statements, the way in1 Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Richard Rorty, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. xiii.2lbjd, p. 65.Chapter four, section one Page 195which each is sanctioned; the techniques and procedureswhich are valorised for obtaining truth; the status of thosewho are charged with saying what counts as true.3As a prime example of the way in which ironists wield the power ofredescription, Foucault takes our discourse surrounding truth andredescribes it as a means of maintaining control. Foucault’s analysis oftruth pays particular attention to the use of ‘truth’ by those whomaintain and enhance their power through such a concept. In thisway, Foucault is concerned with the political dimension of truth ratherthan its epistemological status. According to Rorty’s reading, Foucault,along with other anti-liberals4, posits that the tolerance andpluralism of liberal institutions are a subtle, but successful, means tocontrol and discipline the interactions of members of such societies.Liberalism, it could be argued, is the political morality, the set of we-intentions, which is the least incompatible with self-creation.However, any we-intentions, including liberal institutions, are basedon certain points of consensus, and if this consensus or solidarity hassome substantive content, it will restrain some individuals frompursuing their projects of self-creation. At times, at least, the valuesthat solidarity and self-creation embody will be inversely related. Rortywishes to compartmentalize these competing values to the differentspheres of public and private activity, but F’oucault can be seen as3M. Foucault, “Truth and Power’, Power, Truth, Strategy, eds. M. Morrris and P. Patton, FeralPublications, Sydney, Austrialia, 1979. P. 46.For example, Herbert Marcuse, “Repressive Tolerance, A Critique of Pure Tolerance, BeaconPress, 1969, pp. 81-117.Chapter four, section one Page 196having a different agenda. Foucault does not want his attempt at self-creation limited by the constraints of solidarity. Rorty cannot escapethe complaints of such radical redescribers if the descriptions of self-creation and solidarity are to hold some content. People cannot escapefrom the process of acculturation without undermining to somedegree our present solidarity. Rorty is amenable to compromise,whereas Foucault can be read as if he were not. Foucault’s concern forthe freedom of individuals to fully self-create is at odds with thecontingent liberal solidarity that Rorty is committed to maintaining.Rorty says, “The compromise advocated in this book amounts tosaying: Privatize the Nietzschean-Sartrean-F’oucauldian attempt atauthenticity and purity, in order to prevent yourself from slipping intoa political attitude which will lead you to think that there is somesocial goal more important than avoiding cruelty.. .“ . What couldRorty say to a social reformer who wishes to privilege self-creationover solidarity? Rorty endorses, “. . .the poet and the revolutionary [who]are protesting in the name of society itself against those aspects ofsociety that are unfaithful to its own self-image... “6 Is there a‘privileged representation’ of ‘our self-image’ that determines when acritique is too radical? Is their something about our vocabulary whichallows us to properly adjudicate conflicts between the public and theprivate? This would be uniting the public and the private in a singlemetanarrative which would violate his express claim that the twoRichard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 65p. 60.Chapter four, section one Page 197spheres are “. . .forever incommensurable... “i. It is not even clear thatRorty can find ground to claim that these two spheres are‘incommensurable’ without ‘backslidingT (as he would put it) into somemetanarrative. As we saw in the previous chapter, without ametanarrative that fixes some normative ground upon which he candefend his liberal position, Rorty cannot outflank critics of liberalinstitutions. “For reasons already given, I do not think that there areany plain moral facts out there in the world, nor any truthsindependent of language, nor any neutral ground on which to standand argue that either torture or kindness are preferable to eachother... “8 Rorty cannot do what he denies can be done, finding someneutral ground upon which to face liberal critics, “forcing them toadmit that liberalism has a “moral privilege” which their own valueslacked . . . any attempt to drive one’s opponent up an argumentative wallfails when the wall against he is driven comes to be seen as one morevocabulary, one more way of describing things...”9While Rorty approves of Foucault’s ironism, he does not agreewith Foucault’s opposition to liberal institutions. In order to criticizeFoucault, he reveals a vestige of metaphysics.Foucault would not appreciate my suggestion that his bookscan be assimilated into a liberal, reformist political structure.I think that part of the explanation for his reaction would bethat despite his agreement with Mead, Sellars and Habermas7Th1d, p.xv.8Th1d p.xv.9lbid, p.53.Chapter four, section one Page 198that the self, the human subject, is simply whateveracculturation makes of it, he still thinks in terms ofsomething deep within human beings which is deformed byacculturation10.This ‘core self, “deep within human beings which is deformedby acculturation”11 , is something that can form the basis of ametanarrative, something extra-vocabularic with independentproperties which serves to ground Foucault’s idea of ‘being deformedby acculturation’. FoucaultTscore self is at least a description of thekind of creature that can be shaped, and thus potentially deformed, bythe acquisition of we-intentions. If we-intentions can be impressed onsuch a creature, its self-creation will be restricted, and thereby such asociety will restrict self-creation. Rorty’s rejoinder is that Foucault’sobjection is “typical of contemporary radicalism-- to see society asintrinsically dehumanizing”2and this “longing for total revolution”13should be “reserved for private life’’4. Despite the plausibility ofRorty’s representation and critique of Foucault, the Rorty who can passmuster as a pragmatist and an exponent of contingency should not, aswe have seen, criticize others for their use of a core self. As we saw inthe previous chapter, without a reliance on a core self Rorty cannoteven explain what cruelty is nor why it would be something that wewant to avoid15. Once the ideas of interests and agency are in place,‘°Ibid, p.64.“Ibid, p.64.p. 65.13Ibid, p.65.‘4lbid, p.65.Chapter four, section two Page 199providing just such a core, these problems are overcome.Where Rorty should focus his criticism is on whether Foucault’sposition can provide a vocabulary where the idea of revolution isexpressible when there is no inculcation of we-intentions. Onewonders how vocabularies, collections of rules for the uses of words,would be possible without we-intentions.2] DworkmAlthough Dworkin has, somewhat tongue in cheek, called his viewof liberalism, “Natural Law Revisited”6,the importance of ‘divinevoices’ to liberal theory has long ago passed. Dworkin is interested indescribing ‘our practices’ and they cannot be adequately explainedwithout reference to binding moral principles. His view maintains that‘our legal practices’ could best be explained if we posit certainfundamental rights.Rorty takes Dworkin’s attempt to show the seriousness ofindividual rights as evidence of the continued existence of ametaphysical component in contemporary liberalism. “Ronald Dworkinand others who take the notion of ahistorical human ‘rights’ seriouslyserve as examples of the first absolutist pole.”7.Yet Dworkin’s viewsare built upon an attempt to give the best interpretation of liberalism,not to show how the principles that figure in that interpretation are,15 See chapter three, pp. 154-15816 R. M. Dworkin, Natural Law Revisited”, University ofFlorida Law Review 165, 1982 esp. p.179.17 Richard Rorty, Priority of Democracy to Philosophy”, Objectivity, Relativism arid Truth,Cambridge University Press, 1991, p.177.Chapter four, section two Page 200in some way, representing an “intrinsic human nature” that serves,Enlightenment-style, as an external authority that is represented inour justified normative beliefs. Treating individuals with ‘equal respectand concern’ is, for Dworkin, the most fundamental conception ofequality18.We should read ‘fundamental’, however, in terms ofinterpretive concepts that are useful for giving a good account of ‘ourpractices’, not as ‘ahistorical metaphysical absolutes’. Dworkin doesnot defend his view of liberal equality rights in the same terms thatRorty uses to describe the nonironical quest for certainty; “. . .an orderbeyond time and change which both determines the point of humanexistence and establishes a hierarchy of responsibilities...” 19• Dworkinthinks that if we are attempting to give an account of the principlesthat cohere and make intelligible the point of our actual practices, wewill be led to this conception. The test of his view of liberalism, that itmake sense of the diverse strategies that ‘liberals’ undertake asstrategic policies, keeps the authority for our normative beliefs withinthe realm of belief. He explicitly eschews the idea that the rights hedefends have any ‘objective’ or absolute status.2°I have no interest in trying to compose a general defense of theobjectivity of my interpretive or legal or moral opinions. In fact,I think that the whole issue of objectivity, which so dominates18 R. M.Dworkin, Justice and Rights’ TaIcing Rights Seriously, Harvard University Press,1977,p. 182.19 Richard Rorty,Coritthgertcy, irony and solidarity, cambridge University Press, 1989 p. xv.M. Dworkin, “On Interpretation and Objectivity’ A Matter of Principle, HarvardUniversity Press, 1985 p. 167-177.Chapter four, section two Page 201contemporary theory in these areas, is a kind of fake.2’It is a mistake to label Dworkin an “absolutist” for attempting to draw adistinction between the justification of different beliefs: He thinks thatthere can be a distinction between judgements of taste, such as thepreference for chocolate ice cream, and moral and scientificjudgements. All of these judgements are theory-laden, there are nobrute facts existing independently of theories like “furniture of theuniverse”22, but the available apparatus, the number ofinterconnected beliefs, for testing the coherence of such judgementsvaries in complexity.Ice cream opinions are not sufficiently interconnected with anddependent upon other beliefs and attitudes to allow a taste forchocolate, once formed, to conflict with anything else.23Legal decision making, unlike ice-cream purchases, is encumbered bythe decisions that figure in the institutional history of the law.Interpreting the institution in order to strengthen a justification is, forDworkin, an additional theoretical step24.It is true that these two departments of interpretive convictionsare not wholly insulated from each other; my claim is ratherthat they are, for each person, sufficiently insulated to give21.On Interpretation and Objectivity Op. cit p. 172.Ibid p. 173.23 Ibid p. 170.24Just how important institutional fidelity, integrity as he calls it, is to Dworkins account ofjudicial decision making is controversial. For a discussion of whether Dworkin should be seen asa relativist in light of his commitment to our particular, historically conditioned institutionalhistory, see Roger Shiner, Norm and Nature; The Movements of Legal Thought, Clarendon Press,Oxford, 1992, p. 300, note 29.Chapter four, section two Page 202friction and therefore sense to anyone’s interpretiveanalysis.25Dworkin should be allowed levels of theoretical embeddedness, suchas the difference between well-embedded claims about the nature ofthe legal institution (as opposed to less embedded resolutions to hardcases involving new situations) without having to hold that the natureof the interpretive enterprise is ultimately anchored in somemetaphysical bedrock.26 How such frank admissions, such as “I amdefending an interpretation of our own political culture, not anabstract and timeless political morality. “27 can be reconciled withthe label “absolutist” is a problem best left [perhaps] to ironistinterpreters.In Taking Rights Seriously, Dworkin argued that there can be oneright answer, even in hard cases.28 In order to spell out what thatone right answer might be, Dworkin invented the heuristic device ofHercules, a wonder judge with mythical powers.Nevertheless I insist that the process, even in hard cases cansensibly be said to be aimed at discovering, rather than justinventing the rights of the parties concerned, and that thepolitical justification of the process depends on the soundnessof that characterization.2925 Ibid. p. 170./26 See also R. M. Dworkin, ‘Interpretive Concepts Law’s Empire. Harvard University Press,1986 pp 45-86.2TRM Dworkin. “Integrity, Law’s Empire, Harvard University Press, 1986, p. 216.28 R. M.Dworkin, “Can Rights Be Controversial?’, Taking Rights Seriously,Harvard UniversityPress, 1977, p. 290.Chapter four, section two Page 203With superhuman powers of retention, and armed with an idealversion of Dworkin’s principled picture of the law, Hercules is able togive effect to what “. ..justice requires.. •“30• Perhaps it is this way ofspeaking that fuels Rorty’s anti-foundationalist fires; Dworkin gives theimpression of ‘absolutism’ with his talk of discovery in the inventiveart of judicial decision-making.Without any other available textual support for Rorty’s charge ofabsolutism, it appears that Rorty has been lured into the common trapof conflating Dworkin with his superhuman invention. Hercules doesnot exist and is merely a metaphorical device which allows aHerculean hypothetical critical perspective to focus a deepbackground of constitutive theory. Dworkin invites judges to activelypursue the Herculean ideal, attempting to give a principled, rights-based justification for all of their decisions, but he does not believethat mortal judges will thereby become Hercules. “But of course,though we as social critics know that mistakes will be made, we do notknow when because we are not Hercules either’31.Since the explanation of Rortys description of Dworkin as anabsolutist is that Rorty conflates the ‘social critic’ with Dworkin’smetaphorical ideal exponent, there is a kind of poetic justice. Rortywants to see science; language; and morality in terms of “. . .the history29 R. M.Dworkin, “Can Rights Be Controversial?”, Taking Rights Seriously,Harvard UniversityPress, 1977, p. 280. /30 R. M. Dworkin, ‘Natural Law Revisited, University ofFlorida Law Review 165, 1982, esp. p.185.31 R. M.Dworkiri, The Model of Rules 1, Taking Rights Seriously. Harvard University Press,1977,p.30.Chapter four, section two Page 204of metaphor.. “32• If we can diagnose Rorty’s misunderstanding ofDworkin project as the failure to distinguish Dworkin the actual socialcritic from Dworkin’s metaphorical exponent, then we may have asymbolic incident that illuminates the shortcomings of privileging themetaphorical over the literal. Are we not limiting the use of metaphorif our myths are taken literally?A similarity between Dworkin and Rorty on the source of obligationsuggests a further reason why Rorty has misidentified Dworkin as atarget for his anti-metaphysical program. Solidarity, for Rorty, is.the ability to see more and more traditional differences (oftribe, religion, race, customs, and the like) as unimportantwhen compared with similarities with respect to pain andhumiliation - the ability to think of people wildly different thanourselves as included in this range of “us”.33...we have a moralobligation to feel a sense of solidarity with all other humanbeings34.For Rorty, solidarity is a “powerful piece of rhetoric”35 that needsto be respected, but disengaged from the theological and philosophical“presuppositions”36 that helped bring it into currency in moraltheorizing. It is an example of the ironist accepting certain beliefseven though the ironist recognizes that only circular arguments can beprovided for this beliefs support.32 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 16.Ibid, p. 192.mid, p. 190.Ibid, p. 192.36 mid p. 192.Chapter four, section two Page 205Expanding the range of our present “we”.. .is one of the twoprojects which an ironist liberal takes to be ends in themselves,the other being self-invention. (But by “end in itself’, of course,she means only “project which I can’t imagine defending on thebasis of noncircular argument”)37.Dworkin’s views on the issue of political legitimacy and politicalobligation have a certain symmetry with this line of ironist argument:the best defense of political legitimacy -- the right of a politicalcommunity to treat its members as having obligations in virtueof collective community decisions -- is to be found ppj in thehard terrain of contracts or duties of justice or obligation of fairplay that might hold between strangers, where philosophershave hoped to find it, but in the more fertile ground offraternity38.Dworkin and Rorty have both abandoned the traditional approaches tojustifying political obligation in terms of rational advantage’ or infinding normative premises that mirror the properties of someexternal-to-belief account of an intrinsic human nature.[A community of principle makes] the promise that law willchosen, changed, developed, and interpreted in a principledway. A community of principle, faithful to that promise, canclaim the authority of a genuine associative community and cantherefore claim moral legitimacy -- that its collective decisions37mid, p. 64, nt. 24.38 R. M. Dworkin, ‘Integrity’, Law’s Empire, Harvard University Press, 1986 p. 206.Chapter four, section two Page 206are matters of obligation and not bare power --in the name offraternity.39Dworkin’s use of fraternity has structural similarities to Rorty’s useof solidarity; both concepts are used to explain political legitimacy;and both are difficult to defend without resorting to circular argument.Dworkin chooses “fraternity” because there is, implied by that word,the idea of obligations that cannot be accounted for in terms of afurther cognitive layer, a metanarrative. He resists a contractarianexplanation of our allegiance to the “community of principle” becausehe recognizes that such an account is unlikely to succeed. What reasoncould one offer an egoist to convince them that they were obligated,not simply obliged, to obey laws that conflict with their particularinterests? Instead Dworkin appeals to an intuition that he hopes hisreaders share; the idea that some obligations, like fraternalobligations, which we seem to be unable to give a further justification,are sufficient to commit us to political institutions.This explanation of political obligation leads us to abandon the hopeof an external authority or a metanarrative that can serve as a deepercognitive layer to justifr our political institutions. The liberal ideal oflegitimacy has been internalized: It can be defended only within thecontext of liberalism and as a choice between different conceptions ofhow liberalism should understand itself 40For the exercise in hand is one of discovery at least in thisR. M. Dworkin, ‘Integrity”, Law’s Empire, Harvard Universfly Press, 1986 p. 214.40 For an example of how this internalized debate is developing, consult Peter Dc Marneffe,“Liberalism, Liberty and Neutrality”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, volume i, number 3,Summer 1990, pp.253-274.Chapter four, section two Page 207sense: discovering which view of the sovereign matters wediscuss sorts best with the convictions we each, together orseverally, have and retain about the best account of our commonpractices.4’Rorty finds the idea of discovery suspect: “. . .The wrong way is tothink of it as urging us to recognize such a solidarity, as somethingthat exists antecedently to our recognition of it. For then we leaveourselves open to the pointlessly skeptical question “Is this solidarityreal?”42 However Dworkin protests that he is not asking this furtherquestion, he is just describing our practices, albeit at a more abstractlevel than we are perhaps accustomed to, a ‘principled’ level. In givinga principled account of this convergence he believes himself to beneutral on metaphysical matters. Dworkin simply wants us to be moreself-conscious about the particular way that history has shaped us.Before we decide that “. . .democracies are now in a position to throwaway some of the ladders used in their own construction... weneed to be able to describe the content of our practices so that theself-image that we have collectively invented can continue to provide afocus for our solidarity. For solidarity to function as a way to keepcruelty at bay, we need to answer not whether “solidarity is real”, butrather, “what our solidarity is about”. He is articulating a clear pictureof what is entailed by Rorty’s expression, being “faithful to [societies’]own self-image.. Rorty wants to maintain our commitment to41 .,, . ,, , . .R. M. Dworkin, Interpretive Concepts , Laws Empire, Haivard University Press, 1986 P. 86.42 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and soLidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 196.43Thid, p. 194.Chapter four, section two Page 208liberal institutions, and one way to enhance our commitment is to havea clearer and more persuasive way of describing the normative contentthat shapes those institutions. Perhaps we have already had the lastconceptual revolution that liberalism needs, but working out theimplications of that conceptual revolution is a job that still requiresmore ‘free and open encounter’. Rorty writes that “... I think thatcontemporary liberal society already contains the institutions for itsown improvement.. Isn’t one of the institutions of our liberalsociety a forum for the principled discussion of our practices? Rortygoes on to say that “. . .Western social and political thought may havehad the last conceptual revolution that it needs. J. S. Mill’s suggestionthat governments devote themselves to optimizing the balancebetween leaving people’s private lives alone and preventing sufferingseems to me to be pretty much the last word”46. But partiallyunderstood concepts are not enough. Since we use such concepts inthe distributions of burdens and benefits, through judicial decisionsand legislative initiatives, an elaboration of what those concepts implywill help us understand how we can be faithful to those ‘concepts’ assituations change. On a more charitable reading, this could be seen asDworkins project.On the other hand, perhaps Rorty has diagnosed Dworkinsdisclaimers and decided that Dworkin protests too much. Dworkindoes pronounce resolutions to many ‘hard cases’ and controversialIbid, p.60.45Ibid, p.63.Ibid, p.63.Chapter four, section two Page 209issues. We should be in favour of affirmative action; distributive justiceshould aim at “equality of resources”; etc. In Dworkin’s work we finddescription and prescription. Why should we stay true to our history?Why, besides predictability, is consistency with our history important?Is it just because it is our history? If that were the case, we would havenever evolved the liberal institutions to which Dworkin is committed.Rorty is entitled to believe that Dworkin has a ‘core self thatdeserves these rights because Dworkin makes claims whichpresuppose such a concept. However, his work has never specifiedwhat the content of that core self is supposed to be. Metaphysicalreliances can be acts of omission as well as commission. WhenDworkin says that individuals are supposed to be shown “equal respectand concern”, Dworkin omits describing the reference of that basicimperative47.Until the content of what it is to be a rights-holder isfilled in, the claim that we are to be given equal amounts of respectand concern is formal and empty. Of course we can excogitate whatproperties that it is meant to have through the prescriptivejudgements that Dworkin makes. But the implicit reliance on anunarticulated, and thus undefended, concept of the self remains as ametaphysical component in Dworkin’s views. Rorty’s diagnosis is againon the mark.If liberalism works and it is a set of beliefs that attracts, and keepsattracting more solid commitment, then we are pointed in thedirection of a further cognitive layer. Taking convergence as a signpoint has been made before. See S.C. Coval, Joe Naylor and J.C. Smith, ‘Critical Notice ofLaws’ Empire’ Canadian Bar Review, ed. A. J. McClean, Vancouver, Vol. LXVI, no. 66, 1987, p. 863.Chapter four, section three Page 210that some beliefs are working invites us to explain that convergence byreference to the metanarrative. Liberalism works because rightsprotect the process of goal-functionality, that is, these rights hookonto the functions that comprise the way that we are48. There is acore self behind liberalism, and it has properties that can befunctionally described. Liberalism, and the range of non-interferencerights that it includes, allows us the freedom to interact with theworld and each other in a way that furthers one of our primaryfunctions, the formation and testing of beliefs.3] HabermasRorty and Habermas have no political differences, “Our differencesconcern only the self-image which a democratic society should have,the rhetoric it should use to express its hopes.. Rorty diagnoses avestige of metaphysics in Habennas’ justification of traditional liberalrights. Like J.S. Mill50, the justification for ‘free and open encounter’can be traced to the value of the vigorous pursuit of truth.[Habermas] still insists on seeing the process of undistortedcommunication as convergent, and seeing that convergence as aguarantee of the “rationality” of such communication. Theresidual difference that I have with Habermas is hisuniversalism makes him substitute such convergence for48 See chapter three, section three and four.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 67.50 Mill has many arguments for the liberty of thought and discussion, but the goal of finding,publicizing and justifying our truth claims unites many of his strategies. J. S. Mill, On Ltherty,Penguin, Harrnondsworth, 1978 (first pub. 1859), esp. pp.75-119.Chapter four, section three Page 211ahistorical grounding, whereas my insistence on thecontingency of language makes me very suspicious of the veryidea of the “universal validity” which such convergence issupposed to underwrite.51Habermas is portrayed as valuing undistorted communication as ameans to an ‘end-of-history’52 convergence. Rorty thinks “Habermaswants to preserve the traditional story (common to Hegel and toPierce) of asymptotic approach to foci LmagtnariL..”53.Habermas isnot content to rest an account of truth on the de facto consensus of aparticular historical time and place. Agreeing that “truth” is anormative concept, the basis for separating a ‘false’ from a ‘true’consensus is characterized in terms of “ideal speech conditions”which afford all participants in this communicative process, “asymmetrical distribution of chances to select and employ speech acts,when there is an effectively equality of opportunity for the assumptionof dialogue roles... Rorty thinks that Habermas does not use a‘prestablished harmony between the human subject and the object ofknowledge’, and therefore succeeds in “...dropping the traditionalepistemological-metaphysical problematic... Habermas agrees thatwe are in the ‘cognicentric predicament’, and that “truth belongscategorically to the world of thoughts (Gedanken in Frege’s sense)51 Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 6752thid p.68.53Thid, p.67.Thomas McCarthy, The critical theonj ofJCrgert Habermczs, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1978, p.306.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 67.Chapter four, section three Page 212and not to that of perceptions”56.With his view of ‘ideal speechsituations’, we have a way of capturing the transcendence of claims oftruth, and a way out of the extreme historicism that makes truthentirely reducible to beliefs held at a particular time and place. These‘ideal speech situations’ are “counterfactual” and rarely, if ever,manifested, but they, and the undistorted convergence of belief towhich they are a means, are an “ideal that can be more or lessadequately approximated in reality, that can serve as a guide for theinstitutionalization of discourse and as a critical standard againstwhich every actually achieved consensus can be measured”57.ButHabermas warns, it is not “. . .an existing concept in Hegel’s sense; forno historical reality matches the form of life that we can in principlecharacterize by reference to the ideal speech situation”58.This is thefoci imaginarus that Rorty identifies59. The ‘end-of-history’convergence is excogitated from Haberrnas’ consensus theory of truth;I may ascribe a predicate to an object if and only if every otherperson who could enter into a dialogue with me would ascribethe same predicate to the same object, In order to distinguishtrue from false statements I make reference to the judgementsof others -- in fact to the judgements of all others with whom I56 Jurgen Habermas, Wahrheitstheorien (Theories of truth), Ed. by H. Fahrenbach,Wirklichkeit urtd Refiexion. Festschnft für W. Scftulz,Pfullingen, p. 232.57momas McCarthy, The critical theory ofJurgen Habermas, MIT press, Cambridge, 1978, p.309.58Jurgen Habermas, Wahrheitstheorien (Theories of truth), Ed. by H. Fahrenbach,Wirlcltchkeit und ReJlexion. Festschrft für W. Schulz,Pfullingen, p. 258-259.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989 p. 67.Chapter four, section three Page 213could ever have a dialogue (among whom I counterfactuallyinclude all the dialogue partners I could find if my life historywere coextensive with the history of mankind). The condition oftruth of statements is the potential agreement of all others.60This approach avoids the relativism that is problematic for anytheorist who admits that we are in the cognicentric predicament. Bytaking this approach, Habermas can be harmonized with H. Putnam’sassertion that “Reason is, in this sense, both immanent (not to befound outside of concrete language games and institutions) andtranscendent (a regulative idea that we use to criticize the conduct ofall activities and institutions)”6-.Rorty, however, says that he wishesto “replace this with a story of increased willingness to live withplurality and to stop asking for universal validity”62. If Habermasadmits that we are not in possession ideal speech situations and thathis criterion of truth is counterfactual, then ‘living with plurality’appears to be unavoidable. But Rorty adds, “if the idea of humansolidarity is simply the fortunate happenstance creation of moderntimes, then we no longer need a notion of “communicative reason” tosubstitute for that of “subject centered reason”. We do not need toreplace religion with a philosophical account of a healing and unifyingpower which will do the work once done by God”63.60Jurgen Habermas, “Wahrheitstheorien” (Theories of truth) Ed. by H. Fahrenbach,Wirklichkeit und Rejiexton. Festschrtft für W. Schulz,Pfullingen, p. 219.61 H. Putnam, Why Cant Reason be Naturalized?, After Philosophy: End or Transformationeds. K. Baynes, J. Bohman and T. McCarthy. MIT press, Cambridge, 1987. p. 228.Richard Rorty, Contingency, irony and solidarity, Cambridge University Press, 1989, p. 67.Ibid, p.68.Chapter four, section three Page 214According to Rorty, Habermas is not content with a straightforward‘communitarian’ theory of truth, where such a theory simply takes thede facto convergence as equivalent to truth. Nor does Habermas wantto be a metaphysician who justifies the ideal of ‘convergence acrosstime’ on the basis of a representationalist picture of an independentworld. Instead the singularity of his criterion of truth is suspendedwithout metaphysical support. Rorty is suspicious of the attempt byHabermas to steer between these two clear alternatives. Rorty, werecall, is suspicious of the very idea of the “universal validity” whichsuch convergence is supposed to underwrite... “64• Why should thetruth be the result of inter-vocabularic dialogue across time? Habermashas pronounced how truth will be determined, but he has distancedhimself from the metaphysics which gave a justification for just thatsort of approach in the past. Rorty’s suspicion that there is a vestige ofmetaphysics in Habermas is well-founded. Although Habermas doesnot explicitly state that the world has an essence, he implicitly relieson that idea when he sets his end-of-history convergence as a thecriterion of truth.In this writer’s view, universal, or even widespread, convergence ofbelief is a mark of those beliefs ‘working’ or being goal-functional. Wehave no reason, however, to believe that the points of convergencewon’t keep changing. To know that there will be a finality ofconvergence would require a reliance on a metaphysical concept, theworld’s essence. In order to recognize when this end-of-history64Ibid p.67.Chapter four, section three Page 215convergence occurs, a nomological world which could be fixed in arepresentational relation would be required. Anything so static as an‘end-of-history’ convergence would require that the world was law-likeand we knew those laws.By using a trans-historical criterion of truth that envisages anapotheosis as the test of truth, Habermas appears to have dropped the‘epistemological-metaphysical problematic’65.He has, however, keptmost of the trappings of a foundational program66. Habermas couldresist Rorty’s charge that his view contains a metaphysics and keepfree and open inquiry as the engine which produces his desiredproperties of universality and finality of belief. But if Habermas holds tothat de-metaphysicalization, he then cannot explain why thoseproperties should eventuate out of even a concerted and open beliefformation. Rorty can explain Habermas’ goal as the shadow of an(incompletely) dropped metaphysics. As such, universality and finalityare no longer entitled to the status which they are afforded inHabermas’ scheme. Once their metaphysical backing is dropped,contingency fills that space. Universality and finality would then behostage to serendipity.So Rorty’s ability to diagnose metaphysical reliances is once again65Thidp. 67.66 Another explanation of why end-of-history convergence is the predictable end result of openinquiry rather than sme form of division is possible through a ‘power politics’ analysis. Perhapspolitical ends are transformed into metaphyscial necessities because those in power find such atransformation a good way to achieve their ends. While this explains how a possible nonmetaphysically based end-of-history convergence may obtain, it offers no reason to think of thisstatic convergence of belief as any indication of truth.Chapter four, section four Page 216demonstrated. If Habermas is to avoid such charges he should holdwith Rorty that the functional properties of the world are the testingground for beliefs. Our categories of interpretation may forever keepimproving or changing and that would keep universal convergencefrom obtaining. For that to be otherwise, one would have to knowwhen one had formed the ‘best possible’ vocabulary. But how could thisbe recognized without historical hindsight? Moreover, the ultimatepattern of the functions of the world may themselves change.Therefore even if the questions remain the same, the answers maystart to change. All we are entitled to believe that we know is what wehave gained from testing and interacting with the world throughaction.41 Main Assumptions and Conclusions1] I assume that Rorty first and foremost is a pragmatist, which is tosay that, at the least, he places the concept of agency at the centre ofhis explanations and descriptions, in that if he were to let go ofanything in his vocabulary, it would be the last.2] I also assume that Rortys preferred vocabulary contains an equallyrich contrast, i.e. a non-reducibility, between agents and a worldwithin which agents interact with each other and it.In the alternative, Rorty might choose, as others have, to let go of thestrong agent-world contrast and in retaining his pragmatism become afull—fledged cognitirist or idealist. This choice would producedifficulties for the kind of pragmatism from which Rorty descends andChapter four, section four Page 217which he clearly still honours.3] Hence one of my main conclusions is that Rorty is required toembrace the world with more than just the mere causal relation thathe has thrown it. Causation itself cannot be the only strand whichconnects agents to their world. Two reasons for this are: a) thatcausation without possible descriptions of one of its relata leaves thatterm dangling unpragmatically, that is, without any true role of adescription-engendering sort within the vocabulary, and, b) unless ourcognitions, such as belief, are connected to the world in more than amerely causal way the interaction of agents within it are blind. On thisalternative, there could be no useful notion of success or failure of anaction, except, again, in idealist terms.4] In addition to Rorty’s use of the world as the “blind impress’, apragmatic vocabulary which supports action also requires a “sightedexpress” in which the world is effected by action and is known to beso effected. Although it is anathema to him, Rorty must thereforeaccept that true or useful descriptions of the world are possible, thatthe nature of the world, a thing distinct from agents’ beliefs anddesires, plays a role in how things, including our actions, turn out andthat there is therefore a place in our descriptions for “how the worldis”. Truth will not then be strictly internal or a property of vocabulariesonly.5] There will be rules within a vocabulary which control the relationsbetween and among descriptions and terms. These rules describe thestandard ways in which users of a vocabulary may redescribe mattersChapter four, section four Page 218while preserving communicability-- and also -- precisely because ofthe contrast these uses provide -- allow for creativity or ‘interesting’rule-breaking within a vocabulary. The rules and the descriptionswhich employ them will include identities, equivalences, hierarchiesand other relations of terms without which the vocabulary would notbe the vocabulary that it is. Such rules and descriptions identifyparticular vocabularies within that class of vocabularies. But there isalso a question about the identity of the class of vocabularies-- aboutthe descriptions without which a purported “vocabulary” would not bea vocabulary at all.There are thus two metanarratives, or two sets of descriptionswithout which Rorty’s vocabulary would not be the thing it is. The firsthas to do with those descriptions his vocabulary uses and thecontingent limits it itself sets on them -- its rules. These descriptionsidentify this vocabulary among other vocabularies. The second setidentifies it as qualifying as a vocabulary. The first of these is wherecontingency may be said to reign relatively supremely: anything goes;but only so long as the second set retains its place. A vocabulary mayexpress any set of interests; that will come out of its particular history.But if it is not used to express interests, is not expressive of ouragency, it will not be a vocabulary. This condition, contingent as ititself is, is a necessity within which historical contingencies may causediffering results so long as we continue to choose to continue talkingabout vocabularies as we now do.Rorty, I believe, is not fully sensitive to the way in which these twoChapter four, section four Page 219sets of discourse are one dependent on the other and as a result seesonly the contingency and not the limits his own discourse shows hemust place upon it in order to be the describer, redescriber andotherwise the agent he intends.Cited Bibliography Page 220Cited BibliographyG.E.M. Anscombe, Intending, Blackwell, Oxford, 1957Bruce Aune, Reason and Action, D. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1979Johnathan Bennett, Kant’s Analytic, Cambridge University Press,1966Myles Brand, Intending and Acting, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1984P.G. Campbell, Rational and Irrational Agency, Ph.D. Thesis, UBC,1994.Hector-Neri Castañeda, Thinking and Doing, D. 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