Pragmatism and Feminism as Qualified Relativism

Studies in Philosophy and Education 22 (6):417-438 (2003)
This article explores pragmatism's associationwith relativism, not to rescue it fromrelativism but rather to highlight how aspectsof the classic pragmatists' positions supportqualified relativism. I do so in an effort tohelp restore ``relativism'' as a meaningfulconcept that is nuanced and complex, ratherthan naive and vulgar, as it is regularlyportrayed by more traditional philosophers. This nuanced relativism I call qualifiedrelativism. Qualified relativists insist thatall inquiry are affected by philosophicalassumptions which are culturally bound, andthat all inquirers are situated knowers who areculturally bound as well. However, we cancompensate for our cultural embeddedness byopening our horizons and including others inour conversations. I connect the classicpragmatist points to current feministepistemological work and show that qualifiedrelativists (pragmatists, feminists, andpostmodernists) can claim roots to theirpositions in Peirce, James, and Dewey, some ofthe very scholars others turn to for theirpragmatic realism and their nonvulgar absolutism
Keywords feminism  pragmatism  relativism
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