A consistent relativism

Mind 106 (421):33-52 (1997)
Relativism is one of the most tenacious theories about truth, with a pedigree as old as philosophy itself. Nearly as ancient is the chief criticism of relativism, namely the charge that the theory is self-refuting. This paper develops a logic of relativism that (1) illuminates the classic self-refutation charge and shows how to escape it; (2) makes rigorous the ideas of truth as relative and truth as absolute, and shows the relations between them; (3) develops an intensional logic for relativism; (4) provides a framework in which relativists can consistently promote ethical, mathematical, scientific, religious, and political truths (among others) as being relative; (5) argues that the notion of incommensurability is far less troubling than is commonly thought; and (6) argues that the concept of a perspective as needed by the theory is not prey to Davidson's well-known critique of conceptual schemes. The paper will not defend relativism as the correct theory of truth, nor will it provide a fully satisfying theory about the nature of a perspective. The logic of relativism is primarily meant to provide a formal framework in which relativists can consistently develop their theories. This alone is a considerable step forward, since the debate about relativism often founders upon the rock of self-refutation. It is argued that while 'everything is relative' is inconsistent, 'everything true is relatively true' is not. The latter is all a relativist really needs.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/106.421.33
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Max Kölbel (2004). Indexical Relativism Versus Genuine Relativism. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (3):297 – 313.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

148 ( #15,161 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

14 ( #50,975 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.