Some philosophers have a fondness for what might be called "refutation by personification." Richard Rorty, for example, in his Presidential Address to the American Philosophical Association, argued that the "relativist" is nothing but "one of the Platonist or Kantian philosopher's imaginary playmates, inhabiting the same realm of fantasy as the solipsist, the skeptic, and the moral nihilist." Such characters need not be taken seriously because they are merely philosophical, not "fellow participants in a common project."2 Now it is both true and important that philosophical positions must be held by human beings, but that would not refute the ones mentioned nor banish the philosopher from the polite company of a common project. The relativist seems no more to belong to the bestiary of fantasy than does, say, Rorty's own "ironist"—or any homunculus crafted as a personified position. One still wants an account of why solipsism, scepticism, ironism, and the like are attractive in the first place. One might chalk it up to the repetition compulsion of a certain "game" called philosophy; however, one might also recognize in such positions clues to the truth of the situation in which we participants in a common project find ourselves.
Crowell, S. (1995)., Solipsism, in S. Crowell (ed.), The prism of the self, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 13-29.
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