Relativism and the Sociology of Mathematics: Remarks on Bloor, Flew, and Frege

Inquiry 29 (1-4):439-450 (1986)
Abstract
Antony Flew's ?A Strong Programme for the Sociology of Belief (Inquiry 25 {1982], 365?78) critically assesses the strong programme in the sociology of knowledge defended in David Bloor's Knowledge and Social Imagery. I argue that Flew's rejection of the epistemological relativism evident in Bloor's work begs the question against the relativist and ignores Bloor's focus on the social relativity of mathematical knowledge. Bloor attempts to establish such relativity via a sociological analysis of Frege's theory of number. But this analysis only succeeds if the rejection of an explanatory theory entails that there are reasonable grounds for the rejection of the set of propositions which that theory was intended to explain. I argue against such an entailment, and thus against Bloor's attempt to relativize mathematical knowledge
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William P. Alston (1980). Level-Confusions in Epistemology. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 5 (1):135-150.

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