Some Political Consequences of Pragmatism

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
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  • 1 Associate Professor. Department of Government, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY, pal229@cornell.edu

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The question of what political consequences, if any, follow from American pragmatism is nearly as old as pragmatism itself. David Rondel’s Pragmatist Egalitarianism breathes new life into this old debate. Rondel outlines a distinctively pluralistic and problem-oriented approach to political philosophy that claims to “reconcile and mediate” the false dichotomies and interminable debates marking philosophical discourses of egalitarian justice. This article identifies two competing visions of the political consequences of Rondel’s egalitarian brand of pragmatism: one Rortyan and deflationary, the other Deweyan and reconstructive. Rondel’s reconstructive argument shows how pragmatism’s democratic radicalism pushes beyond the liberal consensus of contemporary theories of justice and towards a more robust conception of democratic socialism, yet the full implications of this position are cut short by the book’s competing deflationary mode.

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