Rorty’s Promise in Metaethics

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Raff Donelson Paul M. Hebert Law Center andDepartment of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70803

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Little attention is given to Richard Rorty’s metaethical views. No doubt this stems from the fact that most commentators are more interested in his metaphilosophical views; most see his metaethical views, offered in scattered passages, as just the downstream runoff from higher-level reflection. This article considers Rorty’s metaethics on their own merits, quite apart from whether his global picture works. I ultimately argue that Rorty’s metaethical outlook is attractive but beset by internal difficulties. Specifically, I contend that Rorty does not and cannot remain faithful to the methodological approach to metaethics for which he advocates. At the paper’s close, I gesture at a nearby methodological approach that best approximates Rorty’s metaethical methodology.

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