[lit-ideas] Re: Justifying Moral Principles?

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:21:59 +0900

Thanks, Walter. It has been bothering me to see Rorty described as ethnocentric 
and promoting the outcomes of intertribal warfare as morally compelling. 

That he did not believe in the possibility of discovering maxims with absolute 
validity in all times and places does not rule out what lawyers call "beyond a 
reasonable doubt" or "mitigating circumstances." It did not prevent him from 
saying that, as a pragmatist, his goals were, as far as possible, to minimize 
suffering and provide equal opportunity for every human child and that he found 
these goals worth fighting for. To the best of my always inadequate knowledge, 
the closest he comes to endorsing ethnocentrism involves a subtle point at the 
beginning of Achieving Our Country, where he remarks that national pride is 
necessary for achieving the old dream of a global federation of all humanity. 
Without it--and the shame felt when our nation behaves dishonorably--the 
empathy required to build something greater is missing. For nations as for 
individuals, when it's all about me, the sovereign social atom, the predictable 
outcome is the war of all against all. 

Ultimate justification? No. Persuasive reasoning? At least to me, yes.


Sent from my iPad

> On 2015/02/27, at 6:42, Walter C. Okshevsky <wokshevs@xxxxxx> wrote:
> Rorty didn't express any optimism or pessimism re the possibilities or future 
> of
> his "ethnocentrism." His claim, pace the realists, constructivists, Kantians,
> emotivists, etc was that this is all we've got as a justification strategy

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