Philosophy, Social Hope and Democratic Criticism: Critical Theory for a Global Age

Shane O'Neill

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1 Citation (Scopus)


The attempt to connect philosophy and social hope has been one of the key distinguishing features of critical theory as a tradition of enquiry. This connection has been questioned forcefully from the perspective of a post-philosophical pragmatism, as articulated by Rorty. In this article I consider two strategies that have been adopted by critical theorists in seeking to reject Rorty's suggestion that we should abandon the attempt to ground social hope in philosophical reason. We consider argumentative strategies of the philosophical anthropologist and of the rational proceduralist. Once the exchanges between Rorty and these two strands of critical theory have been reconstructed and assessed, an alternative perspective emerges. It is argued that philosophical reasoning best helps to sustain social hope in a rapidly changing world when we consider it in terms of the practice of democratic criticism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-110
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Horizons
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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