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XII-1, 2020 – Rethinking Rorty’s Pragmatism: Ethics after Epistemology

The XII-1 (2020) issue of the European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy will be dedicated to the American neopragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty (1931-2007). The occasion of the decennial of his death witnessed an intensification of interest in the American thinker, with many works on Rorty recently published or in preparation. The title of the symposium, “Rethinking Rorty's Pragmatism: Ethics after Epistemology,” expresses the main intention of this issue, which is to continue the conversation about the consequences for ethics of Rorty’s famous critique of modern epistemology and its well-known concern with knowledge and representation.

A new generation of scholars and practitioners of American philosophy who have come to the classical figures through Rorty is supplanting one that views him as an unhelpful interloper who did as much to distort as to revive. At the same time, internecine quarrels and divisions continually threaten to thwart and fragment these new energies. Devotees of American philosophy increasingly seem content to incite antipathy among and between “classico,” “paleo,” “neo,” and “new” pragmatisms, and to self-isolate through exclusionary identifications with single thinkers. This issue aims to feature new work that seeks to challenges these divides on Rorty’s role by rethinking the interconnection of ethics and epistemology through, with, or beyond Rorty’s pragmatism. We are particularly interested in reconsidering within such a renewed framework the impact of Rorty’s philosophical critique of epistemology on current philosophical investigations in ethics, from different perspectives. 

Some possible research topics include:

– Rethinking Rorty’s connection to ethical reflection on pragmatism in light of the current revaluation of first-generation pragmatists (Peirce, James, Dewey) all over Europe.

– Reframing the role played by Rorty in contemporary debates in pragmatist ethics.

– Evaluating Rorty’s contribution in establishing a connection between Pragmatism and Hermeneutics. If and how innovative and fruitful was it?

– How to read today Rorty’s understanding of philosophy as cultural politics, the priority of democracy to philosophy.

– Reconsidering Rorty’s view of contingency and normativity, and his critical reception.

– Through, with, or beyond Rorty: which ethical potentialities lay still unexpressed in his pragmatism?

Possible areas of interest are: ethics and democracy, ethics and aesthetics.

Confirmed invited contributors:

– Maurizio Ferraris (Torino University)

– Giovanni Maddalena (Molise University)

Stefano Oliverio (Federico II University)

Ángeles Jiménez Perona (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Maura Striano (Federico II University)

– Christopher Voparil (Union Institute & University)

Papers should be sent to Michela Bella (michela.bella[at] and Christopher Voparil (chris.voparil[at] by January 31th, 2020. They should not exceed 12,000 words and must include an abstract of 150-400 words and a list of works cited. Papers will be selected on the basis of a process of blind review. They will be published in June 2020.

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