Winch and instrumental pluralism

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (2):180-191 (1995)
Peter Winch and Ludwig Wittgenstein have opposed the idea that traditional religion and magic are practiced in order to gain practical, instrumental ends. Their argument rests on interpretive charity: other cultures would have to be unbelievably irrational to believe in magic's practical effectiveness. In this paper, I show that Winch's own philosopical doctrine makes room for the possibility of instrumental pluralism, the notion that different societies may possess different criteria of instrumental rationality. Judged in terms of a native criterion, the instrumental use of magic and religion may be rationaL.
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DOI 10.1177/004839319502500202
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