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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On May 14, 2010, UC Irvine hosted a symposium to celebrate the opening of the Richard Rorty Papers in the UC Irvine Libraries Critical Theory Archive for research. Rorty was a pragmatist philosopher, critical theorist, and public intellectual who is commonly described as one of the most important thinkers of his era. In addition to almost 25 linear feet of papers, the Richard Rorty Archive also include over 1,000 born-digital word processing files that were preserved from Rorty's floppy disks in UCIspace @ the Libraries.

Participants in the Time Will Tell, But Epistemology Won't symposium addressed a number of key questions for criticism in the era of computational media. What is an archive if it includes “born digital” materials? How do new forms of digital production and reception change the character of scholarly discourse? What is the relationship between public memory and computer memory? How should teaching materials be handled in the age of open courseware? How can Rorty’s ideas about philosophy as cultural politics be read in both the liberal and the academic blogospheres? How can more dialogue between critical theory and the digital humanities be fostered?

The symposium was sponsored by the UC Irvine Libraries, the UC Irvine Humanities Center, the UC Irvine Critical Theory Emphasis, the UC Irvine Department of Philosophy, the UC Irvine Department of Comparative Literature, the Office of the Campus Writing Coordinator, and the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute.

Speakers included Elizabeth Losh (UC Irvine), David Theo Goldberg (UC Irvine), Mary Rorty, (Stanford), Michelle Light (UC Irvine), Dawn Schmitz (UC Irvine), Erin Obodiac (UC Irvine), Tom Hyry (UCLA), Christine Borgman (UCLA), Iain Thomson (University of New Mexico), Mark Wrathall (UC Riverside), Margaret Gilbert (UC Irvine), Ian Bogost (Georgia Tech), Steven Mailloux (Loyola Marymount), Ali M. Meghdadi (UC Irvine), Brian Garcia (UC Irvine), Tae-Kyung Timothy Elijah Sung (UC Irvine), and Michael Bérubé (Pennsylvania State).

Cover page of Rorty and Human Rights

Rorty and Human Rights


Human rights are often thought to be "natural" in the sense that human beings possess them independently of any human agreements or social conventions. One's humanity itself and that alone is supposed to ground such rights. Clearly this supposition stands in need of justification. Rorty believes that it cannot be justified. In his view there are no morally relevant "transcultural facts". Thus the transcultural fact of one's humanity cannot ground human rights. Nonetheless, he believes, we should welcome and promote what Eduardo Rabossi refers to as our "human rights culture", which works to counteract the kind of dehumanization that often accompanies the maltreatment of some human beings by others.