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The Revival of Pragmatism New Essays on Social Thought, Law, and Culture

ISBN 0822322285 / 9780822322283 / 0-8223-2228-5

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Book summary

Beginning with a historical survey by editor Morris Dickstein of the 20th-century revival of pragmatism in American philosophical circles, this collection of academic essays continues with a typically bold assertion from pragmatism's most prominent modern advocate, Richard Rorty. "Mill's On Liberty provides all the ethical instruction you need," he writes, "all the philosophical advice you are ever going to get about your responsibilities to other human beings." Other contributors consider the influence of pragmatism on social thought, law, and culture. While most of the writers share to some degree the enthusiasm with which federal judge Richard A. Posner elaborates upon the notion of "pragmatic adjudication," there are some naysayers. Richard Weisberg, for example, in his proposal for a countertradition of "codifiers," suggests, "The challenge for us is to develop and perfect our own private beliefs and, if they are good enough, to make them public." And, in his concluding remarks, literary critic Stanley Fish throws some cold water on the fire:

Some people do philosophy, some people (lots more) don't and those who do have not ascended to some rarefied realm of reflection or critical self-consciousness from which they bring back the news to their less enlightened brethren; they merely have the knack of doing a trick some others can't do and the competence they have acquired travels no further than the very small arenas in which that trick is typically performed and rewarded.
The Revival of Pragmatism is an intriguing collection of essays that manages for the most part to achieve clarity of prose equal to its rigor of intellect. --Ron Hogan [via]