THREE PRAGMATISMS: PUTNAM, RORTY, AND BRANDOM

in Following Putnam’s Trail
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Abstract

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.

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