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The Parent as CitizenA Democratic Dilemma$
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Brian Duff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816672721

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816672721.001.0001

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Troubled Inheritance: Richard Rorty and the Metaphysics of the Child

Troubled Inheritance: Richard Rorty and the Metaphysics of the Child

(p.115) Chapter 3 Troubled Inheritance: Richard Rorty and the Metaphysics of the Child
The Parent as Citizen

Brian Duff

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores the role that ideas about parenthood play in Rorty’s negotiation of the competing pull of the stability of virtue and the unpredictability of contest. Rorty responded to this tension in his thinking about citizenship by positing a strong dichotomy between the two. He developed a vision of modern citizens who are uniformly virtuous for public purposes and embrace contest and contingency in private. Rorty, perhaps counterintuitively, made the experience of parenthood central to the public (and virtuous) side of this dichotomy. Parenthood is the source of the sentiments that provide roots for Rorty’s public virtue. In the privacy of their own lives, Rorty believed, citizens should cultivate a sense of a contingency of their most cherished beliefs about the right way to live. But for the purposes of politics, Rorty believed that a shared hope for a better future for our children is the single disposition necessary for citizens to think about what is best for the nation.

Keywords:   Richard Rorty, parenthood, virtue, contest, citizenship, contingency

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