Is Rorty a linguistic idealist?
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The paper addresses the recurrent charge that Richard Rorty is a “linguistic idealist”. I show what the charge consists of and try to explain that there is a charitable reading of Rorty’s works, according to which he is not guilty of linguistic idealism. This reading draws on Putnam’s well-known conception of “internal realism” and accounts for the causal independence of the world on our linguistic practices. I also show how we can reconcile this causal independence of things and the sense of our discourse being guided by them with our autonomy with regard to the construction of various “vocabularies” with which we describe, or cope with, reality. In the final part, I address in some detail Rorty’s animadversions concerning the idea of the intrinsic nature of reality. I show them to be only partly successful.
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