“Democracy and philosophy” by Richard Rorty

It is still not even a week since Rorty’s death last Friday. Here’s a brilliant short piece by him, from Eurozine:

Rorty2_250I shall be developing this theme of the irrelevance of philosophy to democracy in my remarks. Most of what I shall say will be about the situation in my own country, but I think that most of it applies equally well to the European democracies. In those countries, as in the US, the word “democracy” has gradually come to have two distinct meanings. In its narrower, minimalist meaning it refers to a system of government in which power is in the hands of freely elected officials. I shall call democracy in this sense “constitutionalism”. In its wider sense, it refers to a social ideal, that of equality of opportunity. In this second sense, a democracy is a society in which all children have the same chances in life, and in which nobody suffers from being born poor, or being the descendant of slaves, or being female, or being homosexual. I shall call democracy in this sense “egalitarianism”.

More here.  [Thanks to Helmut at Phronesisiacal.)