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Humanities 2013, 2(3), 421-438; doi:10.3390/h2030421

Rorty, Addams, and Social Hope

Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, 725 Spadina Road, Toronto, M5S2J4, Canada
Received: 28 June 2013 / Revised: 18 July 2013 / Accepted: 14 August 2013 / Published: 15 August 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Legacy of Richard Rorty)
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This paper takes up the practice and ideas of Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, considering their work at the intersection of pragmatism and social action. It argues that both Richard Rorty and Jane Addams, each in their own way, were thinking through the significant challenges that confront individuals in their everyday lives: How do we adjudicate between the competing values of individual accountability and helping others in our community? This is our social test, and the way we each answer the question matters for the future of democracy and our degree of social hope. Rorty was a champion of engagement with the community, and believed that out of this experience comes our capacity to creatively weave the fabric of liberal democracy. The paper argues that Addams’s work at Hull-House in Chicago offers concrete examples of the potential of reciprocal social relations, providing practical substance to Rorty’s ideas and showing how we can create social hope through action.
Keywords: pragmatism; democracy; contingency; creativity; practice; Hull-House pragmatism; democracy; contingency; creativity; practice; Hull-House
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Schneiderhan, E. Rorty, Addams, and Social Hope. Humanities 2013, 2, 421-438.

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