Philip Kitcher’s account of scientific realism in 'The Advancement of Science' (AS) differs from his account in 'Science, Truth and Democracy' (STD). We demonstrate that (1) contrary to appearance, Kitcher in AS proposes a so-called Kantian realism that is accompanied not by a correspondence theory, but by a hybrid conception of truth. (2) Also, we point out that Kitcher does not pertain to the “promiscuous realism” proposed in STD stringently, but falls back on his Kantian realism of AS at points. (...) Here, we question Kitcher’s claim that his promiscuous-realist conception stems initially from commonsensical be-liefs. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that a moderate form of epistemic relativism that is inspired by the work of Thomas Kuhn fails. First of all, it is shown that there is evidence to the effect that Kuhn already in his 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' proposes moderate relativism. Second, it is argued that moderate relativism is confronted with a severe dilemma that follows from Kuhn’s own argument for his relativistic conclusion. By focusing on the work of moderate relativists like Bernd (...) Schofer and Gerald Doppelt this dilemma as well as the ultimate failure of Kuhn’s moderate relativism are exhibited. (shrink)
This volume comprises original articles by leading authors – from philosophy as well as sociology – in the debate around relativism in the sociology of (scientific) knowledge. Its aim has been to bring together several threads from the relevant disciplines and to cover the discussion from historical and systematic points of view. Among the contributors are Maria Baghramian, Barry Barnes, Martin Endreß, Hubert Knoblauch, Richard Schantz and Harvey Siegel.
The paper focuses on one central aspect of Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge: his exemption of the contents of mathematics and the natural sciences from sociological investigations. After emphasizing the importance of Mannheim’s contribution and his exemption-thesis to the history and development of the field and the problem of relativism, I survey several interpretations of the thesis – especially those put forward by proponents of the so-called ‘Strong Programme’. I argue that these interpretations do not get the philosophical background and (...) impetus of Mannheim’s contribution right. By distinguishing between naturalistic and anti-naturalistic strands in Mannheim’s work I propose a new reading on which Mannheim did not exempt the contents of the areas in question principally or because of a lack of nerve and will. It is argued that Mannheim’s exemption-thesis rather is a consequence of his own sketchy sociological investigations of ‘the paradigm of the natural sciences’. (shrink)
The paper explores the defence by the early sociologist of science Ludwik Fleck against the charge of relativism. It is shown that there are crucial and hitherto unnoticed similarities between Fleck’s strategy and the attempt by his contemporary Karl Mannheim to distinguish between an incoherent relativism and a consistent relationism. Both authors seek to revise epistemology fundamentally by reinterpreting the concept of objectivity in two ways: as inner- and inter-style objectivity. The argument for the latter concept shows the genuine political (...) background and intent of Fleck’s sociology of science and its ambition to relieve the cultural struggles of his time. (shrink)
In this paper we explore Searle’s defense of conceptual relativism. It emerges that Searle formulates the thesis in many different ways and that contrary to his contention not all are trivial and platitudinous. Specifically he does not distinguish clearly between an ontological and a linguistic version of conceptual relativism as well as between weak difference and stronger incommensurability of conceptual schemes. This has consequences for Searle’s defense of external realism.
The recently much discussed phenomenon of testimony as a social source of knowledge plays a crucial justificatory role in Richard Swinburne's philosophy of religion. Although Swinburne officially reduces his principle of testimony to the criterion of simplicity and, therefore, to a derivative epistemic source, we will show that simplicity does not play the crucial role in this epistemological context. We will argue that both Swinburne's philosophical ideas and his formulations allow for a fundamental epistemic principle of testimony, by showing that (...) Swinburne has already implicitly justified the use of testimony as an epistemic source via his fundamental a priori principle of credulity. (shrink)
Since Davidson's proposal to use a Tarskian theory of truth in order to develop a theory of meaning has been criticised extensively, it is decisive to ask whether Davidson needs such a theory as an assumption and premise in other parts of his work. Especially, many authors have claimed that Davidson's argument in his paper 'On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme' depends on his approach in the theory of meaning. It is argued that this interpretation is wrong and (...) Davidson's attack on conceptual relativism does not depend in any way on his defense of truth-conditional semantics. Rather Davidson's thoroughgoing holism and the principle of charity are the basic rationale for his denial of conceptual relativism. (shrink)