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Rorty and Royce on the Cultural Politics of Community, Loyalty, and Justice

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This paper puts Royce and Rorty in constructive dialogue and make three claims. First, that Royce’s work, roughly from The Philosophy of Loyalty and later, can be productively viewed as a series of philosophical interventions in cultural politics. Second, that while evidence of Rorty’s engagement with Royce’s thought is scant, it nonetheless exists and was more influential on Rorty than currently appreciated. And, third, that reading Rorty and Royce within the same frame generates helpful insights about the transformative moral resources available to pragmatists – specifically, the power of affective ties and ethical commitments exemplified in the notion of loyalty and our relation to communal attachments. After outlining where their projects align in promoting an intensification of community, I examine their proposals for dealing with strangers and consider Rorty’s notion of “reciprocal loyalty” and identify a problematic limitation that both thinkers face when it comes to learning from outsiders within.


Christopher Voparil    
Union Institute & University
United States


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