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Globalising Pragmatism

James Brassett

CSGR Working Paper No. 171/05

The paper outlines a critique and reconstruction of Richard Rorty’s version of pragmatism. While sympathetic to many elements in Rorty’s philosophy, his recent creation of a dichotomy between state-level (read credible) and global-level (read utopian) politics is criticised. Patterns of governance in the global polity simply do not match. Decision-making prowes s within institutional and agent networks transcends exclusively state-centric cartographies and proffers the need to theorise global politics in a non-dichotomised, multi-level fashion. This is not to dispense with pragmatism. Rather, it is to extend it. By drawing on Rorty’s concept of sentimental education, a global pragmatic praxis is elaborated via a narrative of the Tobin Tax and its place in a burgeoning global civil society. In this way, Rorty’s oft-repeated claim that “we should start from where we are” is applied to the plurality of ‘we-groups’ and their multiple activities within an emerging global polity.


Key Words: Global Governance, Pragmatism, Tobin Tax, World Social Forum