According to Rorty, why do traditional ethicists find pragmatism disturbingThis is a discussion question for class

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The manner in which Rorty defines traditional pragmatism without a set of established, totalizing principles might be one reason why traditional ethicists could find it disturbing.  For Rorty, pragmatism rejects the typical hierarchy of philosophical establishment because it seeks to establish human beings on a continuum where only their freedom becomes absolute.  While traditional ethicists search for a code or set of established rules to guide their actions, the pragmatist has already "been there," and for Rorty, completely understands this absence.  The idea of the stage drama might be a good metaphor here.  The traditional ethicist believes in the script and storyline that an established ethical philosophy provides.  Yet, the Pragmatist understands that human beings are "walk ons," without a script or a director and are forced "to act" as the curtain is up and the footlights burn bright into the dark unknown and into our eyes.  In the end, this is a disturbing vision for traditional ethicists who can only see despair in such a condition.  Yet, it is one of liberation for the pragmatist, who draws on literary and cinematic tradition as much as philosophy to require "different tools for different jobs" in constructing consciousness.

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