Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. James H. Hall

Second Advisor

Dr. Nancy Schauber


In Contingency, irony and solidarity, Richard Rorty outlines his conception of the ideal liberal utopia, wherein moral change results from the substitution of Freedom for Truth as "the goal of thinking and of social progress" (xiii). Rorty maintains that autonomous self-creation and human solidarity are not to be united in a "single vision" (xiv), but rather, "the closest we will come to joining these two quests is to see the aim of a just and free society as letting its citizens be as privatistic, 'irrationalist', and aestheticist as they please so long as they do it on their own time" (xiv). Rorty charges Plato as being one who endorses the notion that Truth exists, an idealist account which (according to Rorty) entails beliefs such as the following: there is an essential human nature that might be defined, there are absolute standards to which we might appeal in order to make correct moral judgments, and there is an ultimate "final vocabulary" that will accurately describe "the way things are". Rorty is a pragmatic relativist who is suspicious of Plato and other idealists, and as an unfortunate consequences of this tension, Rorty fails to see that many of the practical consequences of Plato's philosophy are in fact very similar to those desired by Rorty himself.

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