Guide Reason, Truth and Self: The Postmodern Reconditioned

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Syntax Advanced Search. About us. Editorial team. Michael Luntley. Routledge Postmodernism has had a significant and divisive impact on late-Twentieth Century thought.

The War On Truth #10 - The Postmodern Era

Proponents of the postmodernist critique of absolute knowledge have felt it necessary to jettison the Enlightenment concepts of truth, reason and the self. Opponents of postmodernism have seized on this abandonment of rational standards only to ignore the very real problems raised by the postmodernists. Michael Luntley provides a lively introduction to debate and offers a clear and careful exposition of how rational debate can survive even if the main postmodernist critique of the Enlightenment is accepted.

Reason, Truth and Self covers many of the key questions of our age: the rationality of science; the availability of rational but non-scientific ways of understanding ourselves and our world; the nature of mind and of knowledge; the nature of moral judgement and the scope for accounts of the self that do justice to our situatedness in real historical circumstances. Edit this record.

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Why is Everyone Else Wrong? Tibor R. The best of these favors semantic deflationisms of a variably reductionist or eliminativist or merely extensionalist cast: most wildly in Rorty; traditionally and rather one-sidedly thus far , in Brandom; and possibly in the riskiest way, in the deflationary sense, in Price. You realize, therefore, that the more promising, newer constraints cut against the older scientistic wave of naturalism — a fortiori , against the scientistic strains of deflationism.

But these have not yet been picked up with conviction by more recent inquiries —which, to my thinking, confirms the continuing attraction of regressive impulses among analysts, pragmatists, and naturalists alike. My intuition is that the recovery of a robust conception of the self will proceed along artifactualist and constructivist lines; otherwise, insistence on a merely functionalist treatment of the self is likely to retreat to the effective autonomy of semantic economies, the minor exercise of testing the tolerable limits of a dependent deflationism, and the inchoate reduction or elimination of the cultural and linguistic world in biochemical and neurophysiological terms.

I offer in evidence the amusing but otherwise impoverished conclusion steadfastly championed by Daniel Dennett. But, surely, one must concede the inverse with regard to semantic analyses as well. Nevertheless, the pluralist insists that these descriptive utterances are functionally distinct from scientific descriptions of the natural world; they do a different job in language. They are descriptive, but their job is not to describe what science describes.

But, for one thing, I reserve the right of any philosopher to attempt to make the contrary case. For a second, I would not deny that humans have indeed constructed plausible forms of moral discourse that answer to their interests and are capable of sustaining rational dispute and rational commitment firm enough to vindicate their that is, our practice of speaking of moral truths and moral facts. For a third, I would not support a similar claim against the actuality of words and sentences or persons or families or artworks or money or political states or the like.

And, for a fourth, I see no plausible way of precluding the question of the naturalist standing of selves across science and morality or similar categorical demarcations. This gives the scientific framework a kind of perspectival primacy. Our viewpoint is internal to science, but external to morality, for example.

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It is a viewpoint which allows us to refer directly to the objects and properties countenanced by science, but not to the objects countenanced by the moral stance. The philosophical standing of the self or person is simply too important to be settled by verbal devices: the self belongs, if it belongs anywhere, to science and morality alike. I mean, of course, the realist import of the truth predicate. Recall that, on my view, philosophical semantics is metaphysics in another guise.

Price is either arbitrary here or in tow to his own unguarded metaphysics. Subject naturalism [Price says] is theoretically prior to object naturalism, because the latter depends on validation from a subject naturalist perspective. But the formulation is hardly perspicuous.

I take that to be a very strong abductive intuition, impossible to confirm decisively. Deflationism begins by emphasizing the fact that no matter what theory of truth we might espouse professionally, we are all prepared to infer The belief that snow is white is true from Snow is white and vice versa. But instead of taking the traditional view that an analysis of truth still needs to be given — a reductive account deeper than the truth schemata, which will explain why we accept their instances — the deflationist maintains that, since our commitment to these schemata accounts for everything we do with the truth predicate, we can suppose that they implicitly define it.

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I realize it may appear to leave us all at loose ends. Well, not completely. Let me mollify you some. This is, in fact, the nerve of what is to be the second part of the larger inquiry of which the first part is now before you: the fundamental disagreement between Brandom and Wittgenstein regarding a matter that supposedly affects the pragmatist standing of each. In any event, the original question only seems to elude us as its implications become more evident.

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I grant the point —and move on to a greener comparison. I suggest we consider instead the respect in which, misreading Wittgenstein, Brandom utterly fails to bring his project into accord with the most minimal considerations essential to pragmatism. Furthermore, the actual argument involving the comparison between Brandom and Wittgenstein has proved to be about as long as the preliminary argument now before you.

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I can only hope, therefore, that you find this part of it intriguing enough to wait to see how its sequel plays out. They are reasonably free-standing and convincingly concluded here; and, of course, they count straightforwardly in favor of any moderate pragmatism — say, conceptions more or less in accord with the tally earlier provided. That is the key to the tempting suggestion that Wittgenstein may have been a pragmatist after all.

Reasonable Skepticism about Radical Skepticism

Brandom R. Dennett D. McDowell J. Brandom ed. Margolis J. The simple fact is that Rorty is often indifferent to seeming paradox and inconsistency — and, very possibly, at times, to stubborn inconsistency for example, his own. Compare the text of Ch. I must thank my assistant, Phillip Honenberger for drawing my attention to, and making available, these and related materials.

Dennett That Price entertains the idea at all is already completely incompatible with any viable form of pragmatism — hence, on my argument, any defensible form of naturalism. Compare Robert B. Brandom See, also, Simon Blackburn , Ch. Brandom cites as the original source of the idea, D. Grover, J. Belnap , which I have not read. Blackburn and K.

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Simmons eds. Author retains copyright and grants the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4. Contents - Previous document - Next document.