Is Rorty a Jamesian? A Comparative Analysis of William James and Richard Rorty on the Pragmatists‟ Conception of Truth


This thesis is a comparative analysis of William James and Richard Rorty on the pragmatists‟ conception of truth. In this thesis, I argue that Rorty‟s notion of truth is similar to James‟s pragmatic notion of truth, contrary to the claims that it is not. Also, I argue that Rorty remains a Jamesian in respect of James‟s pragmatic notion of truth. Rorty agrees with James‟s position that truth is the expedient in the way of our thinking. However, Rorty argues for other positions regarding truth which seem to contradict James‟s view about truth. Rorty appears to be selective about what he considers to be James‟s notion of truth. Again, Rorty argues that there is no theory of truth and that the idea of truth could be replaced with justification. James emphatically calls his position a theory of truth, and never argues explicitly for the replacement of truth with justification as Rorty does. Despite the view that Rorty‟s claim differs sometimes with James‟s position, Rorty maintains that his position is similar to James‟s position. In line with Rorty‟s position, I argue that Rorty‟s denial of a theory of truth is in fact not a rejection of a theory of truth. It is to repudiate the idea of the correspondence theory of truth. In addition, I argue that Rorty‟s replacement of truth with justification is not only because there is no practical difference or practical consequences in doing that. It is also the case that James argues a similar issue by suggesting that truth is just a process just as health and wealth are processes and the naming of these processes are just our own labeling. I argue that James‟s and Rorty‟s position on truth is established on practical importance, and other things are secondary. The accepted necessity, practical importance, gives a strong support to the claim that Rorty is a Jamesian and his notion of truth is similar to James‟ pragmatic notion of truth.




William James, Richard Rorty, Conception of Truth