Is Everything Relative? Anti-realism, Truth and Feminism

In A. Hazlett (ed.), New Waves in Metaphysics. Palgrave-Macmillan (2010)
This paper takes issue with anti-realist views that eschew objectivity. Minimally, objectivity maintains that an objective gap between what is the case and what we take to be the case exists. Some prominent feminist philosophers and theorists endorse anti-realism that rejects such a gap. My contention is that this is bad news for political movements like feminism since this sort of anti-realism fosters radical relativism; feminists, then, must retain a commitment to objectivity. However, some anti-realist feminists, who take truth to be a social construct that depends on one’s perspective or conceptual scheme (like Catherine MacKinnon), don’t intend to argue for relativism. This being so, the paper will explore whether there is something to be said for feminist anti-realism. In particular, I will explore whether Hilary Putnam’s ‘internal realism’ can help block relativism that anti-realist feminism appears to generate. Nonetheless, I will conclude that ‘internal realism’ cannot undercut relativism that threatens anti-realist feminism.
Keywords Feminist metaphysics  Objectivity  MacKinnon
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