In Extended Rationality: A Hinge Epistemology, Annalisa Coliva aims to by-pass traditional sceptical challenges to the possibility of knowledge by arguing that all thinking and knowing ultimately rely on hinge assumptions which are immune from doubt because of their foundational role in the very framework that makes knowledge and rational thought possible. In defending her position Coliva also rejects the relativist challenge that there could be incompatible but equally plausible systems of justification relying on alternative hinges or assumptions. In this response to Coliva, I argue that even if we accept that we need to rely on some core assumptions in order to get the process of rational thought going, the question of the uniqueness of these assumptions remains open. I maintain that Coliva’s two argumentative strategies against the possibility of relativism, one based on empirical considerations and a second relying on considerations from logic do not guarantee the uniqueness of hinge assumptions and the possibility of at least a moderate form of relativism looms large.
Over the last several decades an increasing number of philosophers have announced their sympathies for or have become affiliated with what has become known as neo-pragmatism. The connection between the various strands of pragmatism, new and old, however, remains quite unclear. This paper attempts to shed some light on this issue by focusing on a debate between Hilary Putnam and Robert Brandom on classical and contemporary pragmatisms. Using the Brandom-Putnam debate as my starting point, I examine the relationship between the pragmatisms of Putnam and Rorty, two of the most influential neopragmatists, and argue that differing conceptions of the normative are at the heart of their disagreement. I further argue that this disagreement has similarities to, and can be illuminated by, two differing conceptions of norms in Wittgenstein’s work. I conclude that Brandom does not delineate the differences between various strands of pragmatism convincingly.
Contemporary Pragmatism (COPR) is an interdisciplinary, international journal for discussions of applying pragmatism, broadly understood, to today's issues.
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