Two Forms of Realism

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There is a famous puzzle in Rorty scholarship: Did or did Rorty not subscribe to a form of realism and truth when he made concessions regarding objectivity to Bjørn Ramberg in 2000? Relatedly, why did Rorty agree with Ramberg but nevertheless insist upon disagreeing with Brandom, though large parts of the research community hold their two respective requests for shifts in Rorty’s stance to be congruous? The present article takes up the discussion and tries, for the first time, to make sense of Rorty’s insistence that there is a difference between Brandom’s notion of “made true by facts” and Ramberg’s notion of “getting things right” by showing that Ramberg’s appropriateness-conditions are fully compatible with Rorty’s revised interpretation of Davidson’s concept of “triangulation,” whereas Brandom’s inferential “made-true-by-facts”-language game is not. The reason why Rorty agrees with Ramberg but not with Brandom, I argue, is that Brandom’s contemporary concept of objectivity, as developed in his contribution to the debate and in his Making It Explicit, works with a scheme-content distinction, whereas Ramberg’s Davidson-based version does not. As many of his critics suppose, Rorty’s concession to Ramberg entails a substantive revision of Rorty’s position, not just a clarification. However, this new position is not in conflict with Rorty’s most important commitment, namely his anti-authoritarianism. The revised account still does not bind him to the forms of realism and truth that his critics favor. The article explains to which forms of realism and truth Rorty’s concessions to Ramberg commit him instead.
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Archival date: 2021-02-05
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