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Epistemic Relativism, Misc

Edited by Markus Seidel (Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster)
Assistant editor: Charlott Becker (Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster)
About this topic
Summary Epistemic relativism is the position that knowledge is valid only relatively to a specific context, society, culture or individual. The discussion about epistemic relativism is one of the most fundamental discussions in epistemology concerning our understanding of notions such as 'justification' and 'good reason'.
Key works In Barnes & Bloor 1982, the sociologists of knowledge Barry Barnes and David Bloor explicitly endorse a relativist position,  In Paul Boghossian's Boghossian 2006 several forms of epistemic relativism are attacked,  Kuhn's classic Kuhn 1996 gave rise to epistemic relativist interpretations, Paul Feyerabend is a prominent proponent of epistemic relativism in the philosophy of science in his Feyerabend 1999, In Nagel 1997, Thomas Nagel defends his Last Word on relativism endorsing an absolutist position, Rorty 1991 defends a position taken by many to be relativistic
Introductions Laudan 1990 provides an introduction about the controversy in dialogue-form, For a general introduction to relativism including a chapter on the epistemic variant, see Swoyer 2008 in the Stanford encyclopedia
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  1. Robert Ackermann, Brian Baigrie, Harold I. Brown, Michael Cavanaugh, Paul Fox-Strangways, Gonzalo Munevar, Stephen David Ross, Philip Pettit, Paul Roth, Frederick Schmitt, Stephen Turner & Charles Wallis (1988). Responses to 'in Defense of Relativism'. Social Epistemology 2 (3):227 – 261.
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  2. F. D' Agostino (1985). HITE, F. C.: "Knowledge and Relativism: An Essay in the Philosophy of Education". [REVIEW] Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:110.
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  3. Majid Amini & Christopher Caldwell (2010). Does „One Cannot Know” Entail „Everyone is Right”? The Relationship Between Epistemic Scepticism and Relativism. Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 15 (1).
    The objective of the paper is to seek clarification on the relationship between epistemic relativism and scepticism. It is not infrequent to come across contemporary discussions of epistemic relativism that rely upon aspects of scepticism and, vice versa, discussions of scepticism drawing upon aspects of relativism. Our goal is to highlight the difference between them by illustrating that some arguments thought to be against relativism are actually against scepticism, that there are different ways of understanding the relationship between relativism and (...)
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  4. Joyce Oldham Appleby (ed.) (1996). Knowledge and Postmodernism in Historical Perspective. Routledge.
    Knowledge and Postmodernism in Historical Perspective offers answers to the questions, what is postmodernism? and what exactly are the characteristics of the modernism that postmodernism supercedes? This comprehensive reader chronicles the western engagement with the nature of knowledge during the past four centuries while providing the historical context for the postmodernist thought of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty and Hayden White, and the challenges their ideas have posed to our conventional ways of thinking, writing and knowing. From the science (...)
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  5. Raymond Aron (1959). Relativism in History. In Hans Meyerhoff (ed.), The Philosophy of History in Our Time. Garland. 153--161.
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  6. Dave Baggett (2001). Epistemic Relativism and Socially Responsible Realism: A Few Responses to Linker. Social Epistemology 16 (2):169 – 175.
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  7. M. Baghramian (2010). 'Relativism: A Brief History. In Michael Kausz (ed.), Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology. Columbia University Press.
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  8. Maria Baghramian (2011). Constructed Worlds, Contested Truths. In Richard Schantz & Markus Seidel (eds.), The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge. Ontos.
  9. Maria Baghramian (2010). 'Relativism: A Brief History'. In Michael Kausz (ed.), Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology. Columbia University Press.
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  10. Maria Baghramian (2008). Relativism About Science. In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. 236--47.
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  11. Maria Baghramian (2004). Relativism. Routledge.
    Beginning with a historical overview of relativism, from Pythagoras in ancient Greece to Derrida and postmodernism, Maria Baghramian explores the resurgence of relativism throughout the history of philosophy. She then turns to the arguments for and against the many subdivisions of relativism, including Kuhn and Feyerabend's ideas of relativism in science, Rorty's relativism about truth, and the conceptual relativism of Quine and Putnam. Baghramian questions whether moral relativism leads to moral indifference or even nihilism, and whether feminist epistemology's concerns about (...)
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  12. R. Bal (2005). Beyond Conceptual Relativism?(Re-Engaging Davidoson). Indian Philosophical Quarterly 32 (1/2).
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  13. Nimrod Bar-Am (2003). The Dusk of Incommensurability. Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):111 – 114.
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  14. Barry Barnes (2011). Relativism as a Completion of the Scientific Project. In Richard Schantz & Markus Seidel (eds.), The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge. ontos.
  15. Barry Barnes & David Bloor (1982). Relativism, Rationalism and the Sociology of Knowledge. In Martin Hollis & Steven Lukes (eds.), Rationality and Relativism. Blackwell.
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  16. Donald K. Barry (1996). Forms of Life and Following Rules: A Wittgensteinian Defence of Relativism. E.J. Brill.
    This book provides a defence of epistemological relativism against its most powerful opponents.
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  17. Gordon C. F. Bearn (1985). Relativism and Realism: The Nature and Limits of Epistemological Relativity. Dissertation, Yale University
    I use a reading of Kuhn to sketch a form of relativism which maintains that what is considered reasonable to believe is relative to scientific traditions. This form of relativism is articulated by showing how it can be defended against criticisms from three different kinds of realism: convergent realism, metaphysical realism, and internal realism. This involves an interpretation of the work of H. Putnam and M. Dummett. Finally I consider the ancient charge that relativism is self-refuting. I argue that the (...)
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  18. R. R. Beatch (1996). Margolis's Moderate Relativism. Journal of Philosophical Research 21:81-94.
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  19. José Benardete (1983). Rationality and Relativism. Review of Metaphysics 37 (1):122-124.
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  20. Lars Bergström (2006). Quine's Relativism. Theoria 72 (4):286-298.
  21. Richard J. Bernstein (1983). Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. University of Pennsylvania Press.
    "A fascinating and timely treatment of the objectivism versus relativism debates occurring in philosophy of science, literary theory, the social sciences, ...
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  22. Richard Bett (1989). The Sophists and Relativism. Phronesis 34 (1):139-169.
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  23. Akeel Bilgrami (2002). Realism and Relativism. Noûs 36 (s1):1-25.
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  24. Steven Bland (forthcoming). Incommensurability, Relativism, and The Epistemic Authority Of Science. Episteme:1-11.
  25. Steven Bland (2013). Scepticism, Relativism, and the Structure of Epistemic Frameworks. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):539-544.
    This paper has four aims: first, to outline the role of the sceptical problem of the criterion in the principal argument for epistemic relativism; second, to establish that methodist and particularist responses to the problem of the criterion do not, by themselves, constitute successful strategies for resisting epistemic relativism; third, to argue that a more fruitful strategy is to attempt to evaluate epistemic frameworks on the basis of the epistemic resources that they have in common; and finally, to make the (...)
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  26. David Bloor (2011). Relativism and the Sociology of Knowledge. In Steven Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism.
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  27. David Bloor (2008). Relativism at 30,000 Feet. In Massimo Mazzotti (ed.), Knowledge as Social Order: Rethinking the Sociology of Barry Barnes.
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  28. David Bloor (2007). Epistemic Grace. Antirelativism as Theology in Disguise. Common Knowledge 13 (2-3):250-280.
  29. Paul Boghossian (2011). Three Kinds of Relativism. In Steven Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism. Blackwell.
    The paper looks at three big ideas that have been associated with the term “relativism.” The first maintains that some property has a higher-degree than might have been thought. The second that the judgments in a particular domain of discourse are capable only of relative truth and not of absolute truth (an idea that is sometimes associated with the idea of “faultless disagreement.”) And the third, which I dub with the oxymoronic label “absolutist relativism,” seeks to locate relativism in our (...)
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  30. Paul Boghossian (2010). Epistemic Relativism Defended. In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press.
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  31. Paul Boghossian (2008). Replies to Wright, MacFarlane and Sosa. [REVIEW] Philosophical Studies 141 (3):409-432.
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  32. Paul Boghossian (2006). What is Relativism? In Patrick Greenough & Michael Lynch (eds.), Truth and Relativism. Clarendon Press. 13--37.
    Many philosophers, however, have been tempted to be relativists about specific domains of discourse, especially about those domains that have a normative character. Gilbert Harman, for example, has defended a relativistic view of morality, Richard Rorty a relativistic view of epistemic justification, and Crispin Wright a relativistic view of judgments of taste.¹ But what exactly is it to be a relativist about a given domain of discourse? The term ‘‘relativism’’ has, of course, been used in a bewildering variety of senses (...)
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  33. Paul Boghossian (2001). How Are Objective Epistemic Reasons Possible? Philosophical Studies 106 (1-2):340-380.
    Epistemic relativism has the contemporary academy in its grip. Not merely in the United States, but seemingly everywhere, most scholars working in the humanities and the social sciences seem to subscribe to some form of it. Even where the label is repudiated, the view is embraced. Sometimes the relativism in question concerns truth, sometimes justification. The core impulse appears to be a relativism about knowledge. The suspicion is widespread that what counts as knowledge in one cultural, or broadly ideological, setting (...)
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  34. Paul Artin Boghossian (2007). The Case Against Epistemic Relativism: Replies to Rosen and Neta. Episteme 4 (1):49-65.
    Unlike the relativistic theses drawn from physics, normative relativisms involve relativization not to frames of reference but to something like our standards, standards that we have to be able to think of ourselves as endorsing or accepting. Th us, moral facts are to be relativized to moral standards and epistemic facts to epistemic standards. But a moral standard in this sense would appear to be just a general moral proposition and an epistemic standard just a general epistemic proposition. Pulling off (...)
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  35. Paul Artin Boghossian (2006). Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Oxford University Press.
    Relativist and constructivist conceptions of truth and knowledge have become orthodoxy in vast stretches of the academic world in recent times. In his long-awaited first book, Paul Boghossian critically examines such views and exposes their fundamental flaws. Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed--one as a thesis about truth and two about justification. And he rejects all three. The intuitive, common-sense view is that there is a way the world is that is (...)
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  36. Charles D. Bolton (1957). Sociological Relativism and the New Freedom. Ethics 68 (1):11-27.
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  37. Erika Boupguignon (2000). Relativism and Ambivalence in the Work of M. J. Herskovits. Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 28 (1):103-114.
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  38. Daniel Boyarin (2007). The Scandal of Sophism on the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism. Common Knowledge 13 (2-3):315-336.
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  39. Richard Brandt (2001). 1 Q Relativism Refuted? In Paul K. Moser & Thomas L. Carson (eds.), Moral Relativism: A Reader. Oxford University Press. 277.
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  40. Larry Briskman (1987). Historicist Relativism and Bootstrap Rationality. In Joseph Agassi & I. C. Jarvie (eds.), The Monist. Distributors for the U.S. And Canada, Kluwer Academic Publishers. 317--338.
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  41. James Robert Brown (1989). The Rational and the Social. Routledge.
    THE SOCIOLOGICAL TURN The problem we are concerned with is just this: How should we understand science? Are we to account for scientific knowledge (or ...
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  42. James Robert Brown (1984). Scientific Rationality: The Sociological Turn. D. Reidel Publishing Company.
  43. James Robert Brown (1983). Rationality and Relativism Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes, Editors Oxford: Blackwell, 1982. Pp. 312. $34.25, Cloth; $18.25, Paper. [REVIEW] Dialogue 22 (02):369-371.
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  44. P. R. Brown (2001). Some Forms of Relativism. International Studies in Philosophy 33 (4):1-27.
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  45. Anthony Brueckner (1998). Conceptual Relativism. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 79 (4):295–301.
    What is conceptual relativism? Several formulations of the idea that truth, or existence, is somehow relative to conceptual schemes are considered. All are found lacking.
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  46. Eyja Brynjarsdóttir (2008). Patrick J.J. Phillips, The Challenge of Relativism. [REVIEW] Philosophy in Review 28:364-366.
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  47. Otavio Bueno (2008). Relativism and Scepticism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 16 (2):247 – 254.
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  48. Robert E. Butts (1990). Philosophers as Professional Relativists. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 20 (4):617-624.
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  49. H. G. Callaway (2009). Fear of Knowledge, Against Relativism and Constructivism – by Paul Artin Boghossian. Dialectica 63 (3):357-360.
    My review of Boghossian's book, Fear of Knowledge, is generally sympathetic toward his rejection of epistemic relativism and turns toward an examination of "constructivist" themes in light of an anti-nominalist perspective. In general terms, this is a fine little book, tightly argued, and well worth considerable attention--especially from the friends of relativism and those supporting versions of constructivism. (Constructivism + radical nominalism = relativism.).
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  50. J. Adam Carter & Emma C. Gordon (2013). A New Maneuver Against the Epistemic Relativist. Synthese (8):1-13.
    Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we grant the very insights (...)
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