I just read Philosophy and social hope, a collection of essays by Richard Rorty. Except for the excess of academicism, I can say I’m definitely inspired by it and happy with the discussions it threw inside my head. With that said, and taking into account all the effort he puts in to not be taken as a moral relativist (which I’m convinced he’s not), some passages confuse me, specially when he’s talking about science. For example, this passage of Pragmatism, Pluralism and Postmodernism:

“Abandoning the correspondence theory of truth means no longer insisting that truth, like reality, is one and seamless. If a true belief is simply the sort of belief which surpasses the competition as a rule for successful future action, then there may be no need to reconcile all one's beliefs with all one's other beliefs - no need to attempt to see reality steadily and as a whole... Conflict between beliefs adopted for diverse purposes will only arise when we engage in projects of social cooperation, when we need to agree about what is to be done. So the pursuit of a political utopia becomes disjoined from both religion and science. It has no religious or scientific or philosophical foundations, but only utilitarian and pragmatic ones”

I understand and agree with the criticism towards the “correspondence theory of truth” and to the instances when science-minded people fall prey to it. Now, leaving that vision of science behind, I particularly see science as the set of rules we as a collective define to solve exactly for the moments “when we need to agree about what is to be done”. We use the principles of falsification, reproducibility and parsimony exactly for that, those are the tools that we only use because they are good for that very problem. How is that not straightforward pragmatism? How come he misses that? Or am I reading him wrong?

It is clear to me that he thinks science can not provide the first principles to guide our moral arrangements (and I agree with him). It is not clear to me what tools he proposes we use for “when we need to agree about what is to be done”, if he wants conflicts between beliefs to be disjoined from science.



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