Res Publica

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 403–423

A Defence of Liberal Ironism


DOI: 10.1007/s11158-005-5761-0

Cite this article as:
Bacon, M. Res Publica (2005) 11: 403. doi:10.1007/s11158-005-5761-0


Richard Rorty’s notion of ironism has been widely criticized for entailing frivolity and light-mindedness, for being inimical to moral commitment and, perhaps most importantly, for its putative incompatibility with his vision of liberalism. This paper suggests that these criticisms are misplaced, stemming from a misunderstanding of ironism that Rorty’s presentation has itself in part encouraged. The paper goes on to argue that ironism is not only consistent with the liberal society which Rorty favours, but that it can serve such a society by helping to illustrate the ways in which those societies contain unrecognized injustices.

Key words

anti-foundationalismcrueltyironismliberalismre-descriptionRortythe self

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity College LondonLondonUK