Rorty, neopragmatism and non-foundational international ethics

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


International Relations

First Advisor's Name

Nicholas G. Onuf

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bruce Hauptli

Third Advisor's Name

John Clark

Date of Defense



The purpose of this paper is to apply the work of Richard Rorty to questions of ethics in International Relations.

Beginning- with discussion of Pragmatism in this chapter, and Rorty's political beliefs in the second, the paper moves in Chapter Three to the means by which Rorty has come to hold his ethical beliefs. This takes the reader through discussions of the contingency of language, self and community to the notions of irony and liberal ironism. Chapter Four contrasts the (neo) Pragmatist conception of progressive, piecemeal social change to traditions which eschew such a notion in favor of immanent critique. Discussion in chapter five moves to the application of this neopragmatist line of thought to the discussion of solidarity and human rights, bringing all of the various strands of this paper together. In the conclusion, two apparent inconsistencies in Rorty's clarified.



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