The relativist's central objection to contextualism is that it fails to account for the disagreement we perceive in discourse about "subjective" matters, such as whether stewed prunes are delicious. If we are to adjudicate between contextualism and relativism, then, we must first get clear about what it is for two people to disagree. This question turns out to be surprisingly difficult to answer. A partial answer is given here; although it is incomplete, it does help shape what the relativist (...) must say if she is to do better than the contextualist in securing genuine disagreement. (shrink)
According to one sort of epistemic relativist, normative epistemic claims (e.g., evidence E justifies hypothesis H) are never true or false simpliciter, but only relative to one or another epistemic system. In chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian objects to this view on the ground that its central notions cannot be explained, and that it cannot account for the normativity of epistemic discourse. This paper explores how the dogged relativist might respond.
I attempt to rebut the following standard objections against cultural relativism: 1. It is self-defeating for a cultural relativist to take the principle of tolerance as absolute; 2. There are universal moral rules, contrary to what cultural relativism claims; 3. If cultural relativism were true, Hitler’s genocidal actions would be right, social reformers would be wrong to go against their own culture, moral progress would be impossible, and an atrocious crime could be made moral by forming a (...) culture which approves of it; 4. Cultural relativism is silent about how large a group must be in order to be a culture, and which culture we should follow when we belong to two cultures with conflicting moralities. (shrink)
My review of Boghossian's book, Fear of Knowledge, is generally sympathetic toward his rejection of epistemic relativism and turns toward an examination of "constructivist" themes in light of an anti-nominalist perspective. In general terms, this is a fine little book, tightly argued, and well worth considerable attention--especially from the friends of relativism and those supporting versions of constructivism. (Constructivism + radical nominalism = relativism.).
What I am calling New Age Relativism is usually proposed as a thesis about the truth-conditions of utterances, where an utterance is an actual historic voicing or inscription of a sentence of a certain type. Roughly, it is the view that, for certain discourses, whether an utterance is true depends not just on the context of its making—when, where, to whom, by whom, in what language, and so on—and the “circumstances of evaluation”—the state of the world in relevant respects—but (...) also on an additional parameter: a context of assessment. Vary the latter and the truth-value of the utterance can vary, even though the context of its making and the associated state of the world remain fixed. (shrink)
In Fear of Knowledge, Paul Boghossian argues against various forms of epistemic relativism. In this paper, I criticize Boghossian’s arguments against a particular variety of relativism. I then argue in favor of a thesis that is very similar to this variety of relativism.
A critical review of Paul Boghossian's Fear of Knowledge. I argue that the central argument against epistemic relativism fails and that even if the arguments of Fear of Knowledge worked perfectly on their own terms, Fear of Knowledge would fail to persuade the relativistically inclined.
I think that there are good reasons to adopt a relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims such as ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', according to which such utterances determine a truth value relative to something finer-grained than just a world (or a <world, time> pair). Anyone who is inclined to relativise truth to more than just worlds and times faces a problem about assertion. It's easy to be puzzled about just what purpose would be served by assertions (...) of this kind, and how to understand what we'd be up to in our use of sentences like ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', if they have such peculiar truth conditions. After providing a very quick argument to motivate a relativist view of epistemic modals, I bring out and attempt to resolve this problem in making sense of the role of assertions with relativist truth conditions. Solving this problem should be helpful in two ways: first, it eliminates an apparently forceful objection to relativism, and second, spelling out the relativist account of assertion and communication will help to make clear just what the relativist position is, exactly, and why it's interesting. (shrink)
Relativism, in the sense at issue here, is a view about the meaning of knowledge attributions—statements of the form “S knows that p.” Like contextualism, it holds that the truth of knowledge claims is sensitive to contextual factors, such as which alternatives are relevant at the context, or how high the stakes are. For the relativist, however, the relevant context is the context from which the knowledge claim is being assessed, not the context at which it was made.
This essay argues that relativist semantics provide fruitful frameworks for the study of the relationships between meaning and truth-conditions, and consequently for the analysis of the logical properties of expressions. After a discussion of the role of intensionality and indexicality within classic double-indexed semantics, I explain that the non-relativistic identification of the parameters needed for the definition of truth and for the interpretation of indexicals is grounded on considerations that are irrelevant for the assessment of the relationships between meaning and (...) truth. (shrink)
Recently, contextualism about epistemic modals and predicates of taste have come under fire from advocates of assessment relativistic analyses. Contextualism, they have argued, fails to account for what we call "felicitous insensitive assessments". In this paper, we provide one hitherto overlooked way in which contextualists can embrace the phenomenon by slightly modifying an assumption that has remained in the background in most of the debate over contextualism and relativism. Finally, we briefly argue that the resulting contextualist account is at (...) least as plausible as the relativist alternative and should be carefully considered before contextualism is abandoned for relativism. (shrink)
Recent years have brought relativistic accounts of knowledge, first-person belief, and future contingents to prominence. I discuss these views, distinguish non-trivial from trivial forms of relativism, and then argue against relativism in all of its substantive varieties.
I argue that evolutionary strategies of kin selection and game-theoretic reciprocity are apt to generate agent-centered and agent- neutral moral intuitions, respectively. Such intuitions are the building blocks of moral theories, resulting in a fundamental schism between agent-centered theories on the one hand and agent-neutral theories on the other. An agent-neutral moral theory is one according to which everyone has the same duties and moral aims, no matter what their personal interests or interpersonal relationships. Agent-centered moral theories deny this and (...) include at least some prescriptions that include ineliminable indexicals. I argue that there are no rational means of bridging the gap between the two types of theories; nevertheless this does not necessitate skepticism about the moral—we might instead opt for an ethical relativism in which the truth of moral statements is relativized to the perspective of moral theories on either side of the schism. Such a relativism does not mean that any ethical theory is as good as any other; some cannot be held in reflective equilibrium, and even among those that can, there may well be pragmatic reasons that motivate the selection of one theory over another. But if no sort of relativism is deemed acceptable, then it is hard to avoid moral skepticism. (shrink)
Some moral disagreements are so persistent that we suspect they are deep: we would disagree even when we have all relevant information and no one makes any mistakes (this is also known as faultless disagreement). The possibility of deep disagreement is thought to drive cognitivists toward relativism, but most cognitivists reject relativism. There is an alternative. According to divergentism, cognitivists can reject relativism while allowing for deep disagreement. This view has rarely been defended at length, but many (...) philosophers have implicitly endorsed its elements. I will defend it. (shrink)
This paper argues against relativism, focusing on relativism based on the semantics of predicates of personal taste. It presents and defends a contextualist semantics for these predicates, derived from current work on gradable adjectives. It then considers metasemantic questions about the kinds of contextual parameters this semantics requires. It argues they are not metasemantically different from those in other gradable adjectives, and that contextual parameters of this sort are widespread in natural language. Furthermore, this paper shows that if (...) such parameters are rejected, it leads to an unacceptably rampant form of relativism, that relativizes truth to an open-ended list of parameters. (shrink)
This book provides an analysis of the debate surrounding cultural diversity, and attempts to reconcile the seemingly opposing views of "ethical imperialism," the belief that each individual is entitled to fundamental human rights, and cultural relativism, the belief that ethics must be relative to particular cultures and societies. The author examines the role of cultural tradition, often used as a defense against critical ethical judgments. Key issues in health and medicine are explored in the context of cultural diversity: the (...) physician-patient relationship, disclosing a diagnosis of a fatal illness, informed consent, brain death and organ transplantation, rituals surrounding birth and death, female genital mutilation, sex selection of offspring, fertility regulation, and biomedical research involving human subjects. Among the conclusions the author reaches are that ethical universals exist, but must not be confused with ethical absolutes. The existence of ethical universals is compatible with a variety of culturally relative interpretations, and some rights related to medicine and health care should be considered human rights. Illustrative examples are drawn from the author's experiences serving on international ethical review committees and her travels to countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where she conducted educational workshops and carried out out her own research. (shrink)
I investigate the implication of the truth-relativist’s alleged ‘faultless disagreements’ for issues in the epistemology of disagreement. A conclusion I draw is that the type of disagreement the truth-relativist claims (as a key advantage over the contextualist) to preserve fails in principle to be epistemically significant in the way we should expect disagreements to be in social-epistemic practice. In particular, the fact of faultless disagreement fails to ever play the epistemically significant role of making doxastic revision (at least sometimes) rationally (...) required for either party in a (faultless) disagreement. That the truth-relativists’ disagreements over centred content fail to play this epistemically significant role that disagreements characteristically play in social epistemology should leave us sceptical that disagreement is what the truth-relativist has actually preserved. (shrink)
In the recent philosophy of language literature there is a debate over whether contextualist accounts of the semantics of various terms can accommodate intuitions of disagreement in certain cases involving those terms. Relativists such as John MacFarlane have claimed that this motivates adopting a form of relativist semantics for these terms because the relativist can account for the same data as contextualists but doesn’t face this problem of disagreement (MacFarlane 2005, 2007 and 2009). In this paper I focus on the (...) case of epistemic predicates and I argue that on a certain assumption about what is involved in assessing an utterance the epistemic contextualist can solve her problem of disagreement. This undercuts a motivation for epistemic relativism. (shrink)
I will begin with a brief presentation of C & H’s arguments against nonindexical contextualism, temporalism, and relativism. I will then offer a general argument against the monadic truth package. Finally, I will offer arguments in favor of nonindexical contextualism and temporalism.
This paper develops a version of the self-refutation argument against relativism in the teeth of the prevailing response by relativists: that this argument begs the question against them. It is maintained that although weaker varieties of relativism are not self-refuting, strong varieties are faced by this argument with a choice between making themselves absolute (one thing is absolutely true - relativism); or reflexive (relativism is 'true for' the relativist). These positions are in direct conflict. The commonest (...) response, Reflexive Relativism, is shown to be vulnerable to an iterated version of the self-refutation argument. As a result, Reflexive Relativism possesses only the appearance of content, being either incoherent, or a regressively disguised version of Absolute Relativism. Concluding remarks on Absolute Relativism acknowledge this to be a bare, formal possibility, but claim that in fact it must represent one of a range of weaker varieties of relativism that alone remain tenable. (shrink)
Dennett's intended rapprochement between physical realism and intentional relativism fails because it is premised upon conflicting arguments governing the status of design. Indeed, Dennett's remarks on design serve to highlight tensions buried deep within his theory. For inasmuch as Dennett succeeds in objectifying attributions of design, attributions of intentionality readily follow suit, leading to a form of intentional realism. But inasmuch as Dennett is successful in relativizing attributions of design, scientific realism at large is subject to renewed anti-realistic criticism. (...) Dennettian-inspired considerations of adaptationism substantiate the former move towards intentional realism, while considerations of the relativity of artifactual design encourage the latter move towards physical relativism. The ambivalence intrinsic to Dennett's ``mild realism'' can be viewed as a function of these two conflicting positions on design, for Dennett can no more avoid objectifying intentionality when he is realistic about design than he can avoid relativizing physical causality when relativistic about design. (shrink)
Let C1 and C2 be distinct moral codes formulated in English. Let C1 contain a norm N and C2 its negation. The paper construes the moral relativist as saying that if both codes are consistent, then, in the strongest sense of correctness applicable to moral norms, they are also both correct in the sense that they contain only correct moral norms. If we believe that the physical statements of English are true (false) in English, we will reject an analogous statement (...) made of physical theories. We will hold that the strongest sense of correctness applicable to physical statements is not system-relative. The moral relativist denies that there is any corresponding sense of correctness applicable to moral norms. That is, there is no notion of moral correctness that is not system-dependent. It is argued that, while the position may not be true, there is not a strictly logical basis for refuting it. (shrink)
I set out and defend a view on indicative conditionals that I call “indexical relativism”. The core of the view is that which proposition is (semantically) expressed by an utterance of a conditional is a function of (among other things) the speaker’s context and the assessor’s context. This implies a kind of relativism, namely that a single utterance may be correctly assessed as true by one assessor and false by another.
The standard interpretation of "Theaetetus" 152-160 has Plato attribute to Protagoras a relativistic theory of truth and existence. It is argued here that in fact the individuals of Protagorean worlds are inter-Personal. (thus the Protagorean theory has public objects, but private truth). Also, a new interpretation is offered of Plato's use of heraclitean flux to model relativism. The philosophical and semantic consequences of the interpretation are explored.
This paper explores the relationship between scepticism and epistemic relativism in the context of recent history and philosophy of science. More specifically, it seeks to show that significant treatments of epistemic relativism by influential figures in the history and philosophy of science draw upon the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. The paper begins with a presentation of the problem of the criterion as it occurs in the work of Sextus Empiricus. It is then shown that significant treatments of (...) epistemic relativism in recent history and philosophy of science (critical rationalism, historical philosophy of science and the strong programme) draw upon the problem of the criterion. It is briefly suggested that a particularist response to the problem of the criterion may be put to good use against epistemic relativism. (shrink)
This dissertation investigates the plausibility of metaethical relativism, or more specifically, what I call “moral truth-value relativism”: the idea that the truth of a moral statement or belief depends on who utters or has it, or who assesses it. According to the most prevalent variants of this view in philosophical literature – “standard relativism” – the truth-values are relative to people’s moralities, often understood as some subset of their affective or desirelike attitudes. Standard relativism has two (...) main contenders: absolutism – the view that the truth-values of moral statements and beliefs do not vary in that way – and non-cognitivism – the view that moral judgements do not have truth-values, since they express affective or desire-like attitudes rather than beliefs. Almost the entire dissertation concerns the plausibility of standard relativism in contrast to absolutism. Part 1 examines first the two main arguments for standard relativism: that it accounts for the connection between moral judgements and motivation (chapter 2), and for the prevalence of diversity of moral opinion (chapter 3). Then the most common objection is considered: that it is inconsistent with the existence of genuine moral disagreements (chapter 4). I argue that these arguments are inconclusive. Both relativism and absolutism can account for the features discussed. Part 2 focuses on the fact that different people have different strongly held intuitions about the relative or absolute nature of morality. I argue that given a common methodological approach in philosophy and metaethics, which takes such intuitions as evidence of correct analyses, this difference in intuitions suggests that neither a relativist nor absolutist analysis can be correct for everyone’s moral judgements. I argue that this result holds both given semantic internalism (chapter 6) and given semantic externalism (chapter 7). To get one single analysis of everyone’s moral judgements we would have to abandon the intuitionbased methodology. In chapter 8, however, I argue that we can maintain this methodology if we accept analysis pluralism, the view that different analyses hold for different people’s moral judgements. (shrink)
This article explores the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. It is argued that a fundamental argument for contemporary epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. Pyrrhonian scepticism is compared and contrasted with Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Humean scepticism about induction. Epistemic relativism is characterized as relativism due to the variation of epistemic norms, and is contrasted with other forms of cognitive relativism, such as truth relativism, conceptual (...)relativism and ontological relativism. An argument from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion to epistemic relativism is presented, and is contrasted with three other arguments for epistemic relativism. It is argued that the argument from the criterion is the most fundamental argument for epistemic relativism. Finally, it is noted how the argument of the present paper fits with the author’s previous suggestion that a particularist response to the Pyrrhonian sceptic may be combined with a naturalistic view of epistemic warrant to meet the challenge of epistemic relativism. (shrink)
This book provides a sophisticated analysis of various types of moral relativism, showing how arguments both for and against them fail to account for the basic intuitions such theories were inteded to address. Streiffer then constructs a compelling alternative model of reasons for acting which avoids the pitfalls of theories earlier discussed.
Data about attitude reports provide some of the most interesting arguments for, and against, various theses of semantic relativism. This paper is a short survey of three such arguments. First, I’ll argue (against recent work by von Fintel and Gillies) that relativists can explain the behaviour of relativistic terms in factive attitude reports. Second, I’ll argue (against Glanzberg) that looking at attitude reports suggests that relativists have a more plausible story to tell than contextualists about the division of labour (...) between semantics and meta-semantics. Finally, I’ll offer a new argument for invariantism (i.e. against both relativism and contextualism) about moral terms. The argument will turn on the observation that the behaviour of normative terms in factive and non-factive attitude reports is quite unlike the behaviour of any other plausibly context-sensitive term. Before that, I’ll start with some taxonomy, just so as it’s clear what the intended conclusions below are supposed to be. (shrink)
It is plausible to think that some animals perceive the world as coloreddifferently from the way humans perceive it. I argue that the best way ofaccommodating this fact is to adopt perceiver-relativism, the view that colorpredicates express relations between objects and types of perceivers.Perceiver-relativism makes no claim as to the identity of color properties;it is compatible with both physicalism and dispositionalism. I arguehowever for a response-dependence version of it according to which an object counts as red (for a (...) type of perceiver) iff it standardly looks red to normal perceivers (of that type). Finally, I develop a notion of minimal realism on which this account counts as realist despite its subjectivist elements, in that it is committed to the objectivityof truth. (shrink)
Moral relativism is often regarded as both fatally flawed and incompatible with liberalism. This book aims to show why such criticism is misconceived. First, it argues that relativism provides a plausible account of moral justification. Drawing on the contemporary relatavist and universalist analyses of thinkers such as Harman, Nagel and Habermas, it develops an alternative account of coherence relativism.
This Article is a short response to Anders Tolland's "Iterated Non-Refutation: Robert Lockie on Relativism", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 14, no. 2, 245-254, 2006. Tolland's article was itself a response to Lockie, R (2003) "Relativism and Reflexivity", International Journal of Philosophical Studies Vol. 11, no. 3, 319-339.
I critically discuss some aspects of Recanati's Perspectival Thought, while offering a detailed overview of the book. I suggest that the main aim Recanati proposes to achieve —that a moderate relativist should adopt a Kaplanian framework with three levels of content, rather than a Lewisian framework with only two— seems nonetheless insufficiently motivated, and the arguments offered do not settle the issue. I suggest furthermore that the claim that subjects’ mental states and cognitive situations can determine parameters or indices in (...) circumstances of evaluation is an original and very interesting contribution in the book. It is also an important one, since it sets further apart the radical from the moderate relativist, and it is relevant in the current relativism debate, where truth is deemed to be relative to parameters other than worlds, times, places and individuals. I also offer a few objections to some of the reasons Recanati puts forward in support of this latter claim; I object in particular to those that depend on some considerations about psychological modes. (shrink)
This paper deals with the question of whether there is objectivist truth about set-theoretic matters. The dogmatist and skeptic agree that there is such truth. They disagree about whether this truth is knowable. In contrast, the relativist says there is no objective truth to be known. Two versions of relativism are distinguished in the paper. One of these versions is defended.
This paper revisits one of the key ideas developed in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In particular, it explores the methodological form of incommensurability which may be found in the original edition of Structure. It is argued that such methodological incommensurability leads to a form of epistemic relativism. In later work, Kuhn moved away from the original idea of methodological incommensurability with his idea of a set of epistemic values that provides a basis for rational theory choice, but do (...) not constitute an algorithm for such choice. The paper also explores the sceptical basis for the epistemic relativism of the original view that Kuhn proposes in Structure. It suggests that the main sceptical rationale for such relativism may be avoided by a particularist and naturalist conception of epistemic normativity. When this approach is combined with the appeal to external methodological standards endorsed by the later Kuhn and his critics, the epistemic relativism of Structure may be completely repudiated. (shrink)
In Foundations for Moral Relativism, J. David Velleman shows that different communities can indeed be subject to incompatible moralities, because their local mores are rationally binding. At the same time, he explains why the mores of different communities, even when incompatible, are still variations on the same moral themes. The book thus maps out a universe of many moral worlds without, as Velleman puts it, "moral black holes”. The five self-standing chapters discuss such diverse topics as online avatars and (...) virtual worlds, lying in Russian and truth-telling in Quechua, the pleasure of solitude and the fear of absurdity. Accessibly written, Foundations for Moral Relativism presupposes no prior training in philosophy. (shrink)
We set out a doctrine about truth for the statements of mathematics—a doctrine which we think is a worthy competitor to realist views in the philosophy of mathematics—and argue that this doctrine, which we shall call 'mathematical relativism', withstands objections better than do other non-realist accounts.
Metaethical relativists sometimes use an interesting analogy with relativism in physics to defend their view. In this article I comment on Erler’s discussion of this analogy and take the discussion further into methodological matters that it raises. I argue that Erler misplaces the analogy in the dialectic between relativists and absolutists: the analogy cannot be dismissed by simply pointing to the fact that we have absolutist intuitions – this is exactly the kind of objection the analogy is supposed to (...) be a defence against. To decide if the analogy works we need to answer the following two questions: (i) Why does it work to say that people refer to relative physical properties (like simultaneity, mass and motion) even though they intend to speak about absolute physical properties? And (ii) does the answer carry over to the moral case? I argue for a specific answer to (i), and argue that it gives us reason to answer (ii) in the negative – so the analogy does not hold. However, looking at the issue more closely also raises questions about a fundamental assumption in metaethical discussion: perhaps we cannot assume that one single analysis holds for everyone’s moral judgments. (shrink)
The fundamental thought of moral relativism is set out as follows: moral criteria, derived from overall moral points of view, are used to derive particular moral judgments. Thus such a judgment might be correct relative to one overall moral point of view and incorrect relative to another. The evaluation of an overall moral point of view does not involve the application of moral criteria. Rather, the evaluation of a morality takes us outside the province of morality. The result of (...) sharpening this view is a doctrine called system relativism. System relativism is contrasted with other conceptions of moral relativism that have recently been propounded. It is argued that system relativism is the most defensible version. (shrink)
The “ontological turn” is a recent movement within cultural anthropology. Its proponents want to move beyond a representationalist framework, where cultures are treated as systems of belief (concepts, etc.) that provide different perspectives on a single world. Authors who write in this vein move from talk of many cultures to many “worlds,” thus appearing to affirm a form of relativism. We argue that, unlike earlier forms of relativism, the ontological turn in anthropology is not only immune to the (...) arguments of Donald Davidson’s “The Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme,” but it affirms and develops the antirepresentationalist position of Davidson’s subsequent essays. (shrink)
This paper explores a variety of kinds of apparent disagreement of which it may be held that they involve failure to disagree in that, at least in some broad sense, the disputants use the same words to express different meanings or concepts. It is argued that it is hard to rebut the claim that some apparent disagreements about personal identity fall into a particular sub-category of this broad type. I conclude both that a "constrained" relativism which I call "quasi- (...) class='Hi'>relativism" is appropriate in regard to some central personal-identity debates, and also that, in order to avoid the lamentable conclusion that there is no real disagreement at all in these debates, we should embrace the idea that there is a non-cognitive element in personal identity claims, in virtue of the tight conceptual relations between personal identity claims and value claims of various kinds. (shrink)
The generality relativist has been accused of holding a self-defeating thesis. Kit Fine proposed a modal version of generality relativism that tries to resist this claim. We discuss his proposal and argue that one of its formulations is self-defeating.
Machine generated contents note: CHAPTER 1. Cultural and Ethical Relativism -- I. Cultural Relativism -- II. Approval Theories -- III. Ethical Relativism -- IV. Institutionalism and Ethical Relationism -- CHAPTER 2. Positivism, Postmodernism and Ethical -- Relativism -- I. Metaethical Theories -- II. Positivism and Ethics -- III. Postmoder Cognitive Relativism -- IV Ethical Relativism -- CHAPTER 3. Cultural-Ethical Relativism: A Critique -- I. The Limited Validity of Cultural Relativism -- II. Approbation (...) Theories -- III. 'Is' and 'Ought' Controversy -- IV Some Further Arguments Concerning Ethical -- Relativism -- CHAPTER 4. Relativism: Positivist and Postmodern: -- A Critique -- I. Recapitulation -- II. Non-cognitivist Theories -- III. Postmodern Cognitive Relativism -- IV. Indeterminacy of Translation, Inscrutability of -- Reference, Conceptual Schemes, and -- Incommensurability -- V Some Further Comments --CHAPTER 5. Anti-Relativist Trends: Realism and -- Universali -- I. Introductory Remarks -- II. Realism: Metaphysical and Epistemological -- m. Realism and Ethical Discourse -- IV Ethical Universalism -- V Are Realism and Universalism Complementary? -- CHAPTER 6. The Moral Point of View -- I. Overridingness -- II. Objectivity and Universality -- II. Impartiality and Reversibility -- IV Equality and Justice -- V Towards Universal Morality -- CHAPTER 7. Self and Others -- I. Early Views -- II. Existentialist View -- III. Liberals and Communitarians -- IV. Kantian Perspective -- V Indian Perspective -- CHAPTER 8. A Rational Approach to Universal -- Morality -- I. Objectivity and Validity -- II. A Rational Approach -- II. Reason and Dialogue -- IV. Concluding Note. (shrink)
Herodotus. Custom is king.--Engels, F. Ethics and law: eternal truths.--Sumner, W. G. Folkways.--Ross, W. D. The meaning of right.--Duncker, K. Ethical relativity?--Herskovits, M. J. Cultural relativism and cultural values.--Kluckhohn, C. Ethical relativity: sic et non.--Taylor, P. W. Social science and ethical relativism.--Ladd, J. The issue of relativism.--Redfield, R. The universally human and the culturally variable.--Bibliography (p. 145-146).
Moral relativism attracts and repels. What is defensible in it and what is to be rejected? Do we as human beings have no shared standards by which we can understand one another? Can we abstain from judging one another's practices? Do we truly have divergent views about what constitutes good and evil, virtue and vice, harm and welfare, dignity and humiliation, or is there some underlying commonality that trumps it all? These questions turn up everywhere, from Montaigne's essay on (...) cannibals, to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to the debate over female genital mutilation. They become ever more urgent with the growth of mass immigration, the rise of religious extremism, the challenges of Islamist terrorism, the rise of identity politics, and the resentment at colonialism and the massive disparities of wealth and power between North and South. Are human rights and humanitarian interventions just the latest form of cultural imperialism? By what right do we judge particular practices as barbaric? Who are the real barbarians? In this provocative new book, the distinguished social theorist Steven Lukes takes an incisive and enlightening look at these and other challenging questions and considers the very foundations of what we believe, why we believe it, and whether there is a profound discord between "us" and "them.". (shrink)
Are all moral truths relative or do certain moral truths hold for all cultures and people? In Moral Relativism: A Reader, this and related questions are addressed by twenty-one contemporary moral philosophers and thinkers. This engaging and nontechnical anthology, the only up-to-date collection devoted solely to the topic of moral relativism, is accessible to a wide range of readers including undergraduate students from various disciplines. The selections are organized under six main topics: (1) General Issues; (2) Relativism (...) and Moral Diversity; (3) On the Coherence of Moral Relativism; (4) Defense and Criticism; (5) Relativism, Realism, and Rationality; and (6) Case Study on Relativism. Contributors include Ruth Benedict, Richard Brandt, Thomas L. Carson, Philippa Foot, Gordon Graham, Gilbert Harman, Loretta M. Kopelman, David Lyons, J. L. Mackie, Michele Moody-Adams, Paul K. Moser, Thomas Nagel, Martha Nussbaum, Karl Popper, Betsy Postow, James Rachels, W. D. Ross, T. M. Scanlon, William Graham Sumner, and Carl Wellman. The volume concludes with a case study on female circumcision/genital mutilation that vividly brings into focus the practical aspects and implications of moral relativism. An ideal primary text for courses in moral relativism, Moral Relativism: A Reader can also be used as a supplementary text for introductory courses in ethics and for courses in various disciplines--anthropology, sociology, theology, political science, and cultural studies--that discuss relativism. The volume's pedagogical and research value is enhanced by a topical bibliography on moral relativism and a substantial general introduction that includes explanatory summaries of the twenty selections. (shrink)
The issue of relativism has recently become a vital concern in sociology and politics, along with globalization. This book studies ethical relativism in its most profound and recent forms, and argues that a non-relativist account of morality is capable of validating our moral experiences without undesirable implications. Ethical Relativism brings a fresh-perspective to the on-going debate on post-modernism and relativism, and should be of interest to all who study philosophy, theology, and cultural studies, and those interested (...) in spirituality. (shrink)
Many philosophers, however, have been tempted to be relativists about speciﬁc domains of discourse, especially about those domains that have a normative character. Gilbert Harman, for example, has defended a relativistic view of morality, Richard Rorty a relativistic view of epistemic justiﬁcation, and Crispin Wright a relativistic view of judgments of taste.¹ But what exactly is it to be a relativist about a given domain of discourse?
The paper looks at three big ideas that have been associated with the term “relativism.” The first maintains that some property has a higher-degree than might have been thought. The second that the judgments in a particular domain of discourse are capable only of relative truth and not of absolute truth (an idea that is sometimes associated with the idea of “faultless disagreement.”) And the third, which I dub with the oxymoronic label “absolutist relativism,” seeks to locate (...) class='Hi'>relativism in our acceptance of certain sorts of spare absolutist principles. -/- The first idea is well illustrated by the famous cases drawn from physics, but is ill suited for providing a model for the sorts of relativism about normative domains that have most interested philosophers. -/- The second idea – according to which it is the truth of certain judgments that is relative – seems subject to a very difficult dilemma. -/- The final idea provides a coherent model of cases like etiquette but is not plausibly applied to the moral or epistemic domains. (shrink)
Much recent work in meta-ethics and ethical theory has drawn extensively on claims about moral psychology. The goal of this paper is to provide a broad overview of some of these claims and the implications that certain philosophers are taking them to have for the plausibility of moral relativism.
David B. Wong proposes that there can be a plurality of true moralities, moralities that exist across different traditions and cultures, all of which address facets of the same problem: how we are to live well together. Wong examines a wide array of positions and texts within the Western canon as well as in Chinese philosophy, and draws on philosophy, psychology, evolutionary theory, history, and literature, to make a case for the importance of pluralism in moral life, and to establish (...) the virtues of acceptance and accommodation. Wong's point is that there is no single value or principle or ordering of values and principles that offers a uniquely true path for human living, but variations according to different contexts that carry within them a common core of human values. We should thus be modest about our own morality, learn from other approaches, and accommodate different practices in our pluralistic society. (shrink)
Philosophers often talk as if what it takes for a person to persist through time were up to us, as individuals or as a linguistic community, to decide. In most ordinary situations it might be fully determinate whether someone has survived or perished: barring some unforeseen catastrophe, it is clear enough that you will still exist ten minutes from now, for example. But there is no shortage of actual and imaginary situations where it is not so clear whether one survives. (...) Here reasonable people may disagree. There are "fission" cases where each of one's cerebral hemispheres is transplanted into a different head; Star-Trek-style "teletransportation" stories; actual cases of brain damage so severe that one can never again regain consciousness, even though one's circulation, breathing, digestion, and other "animal" functions continue; and stories where one's brain cells are gradually removed and replaced by cells from someone else, to name only a few favorites. (shrink)
Modern Philosophy bloomed into the Enlightenment, a cultural and philosophical movement still alive today, despite growing criticism. Some recent critics claim (roughly) that the alleged ‘universality’ of Enlightenment reason led directly to the imposition of Eurocentric reason on other, less militarily developed cultures. Some contend that there is no such thing as ‘universal’ reason. I contend that there are serious flaws in the Enlightenment notion of reason resulting from three basic dichotomies: (1) reason versus tradition, (2) knowledge versus customary belief, (...) and (3) individuals versus society. Identifying and remedying these flaws leads, not to the abandonment of rational enlightenment, but to an improved account of human rationality. (shrink)
Consider the following facts about the average, philosophically untrained moral relativist: (1.1) The average moral relativist denies the existence of “absolute moral truths.” (1.2) The average moral relativist often expresses her commitment to moral relativism with slogans like ‘What’s true (or right) for you may not be what’s true (or right) for me’ or ‘What’s true (or right) for your culture may not be what’s true (or right) for my culture.’ (1.3) The average moral relativist endorses relativistic views of (...) morality without endorsing relativistic views about science or mathematics. (1.4) The average moral relativist takes moral relativism to be non-relatively true and does not think there is anything contradictory about doing so. (1.5) The average moral relativist adopts an egalitarian attitude toward a wide range of moral values, practices and beliefs, claiming they are all equally legitimate or correct. (1.6) The average moral relativist often admonishes others to be more tolerant of those who engage in alternative ethical practices and to refrain from making negative moral judgments about them. (1.7) The average moral relativist sometimes makes negative moral judgments about the behavior of others—e.g., by harshly judging moral absolutists to be intolerant—but is less inclined to do so when the relativist’s metaethical views are salient in a context of judgment. (1.8) The average moral relativist takes anthropological evidence concerning the worldwide diversity of ethical views and practices to support moral relativism. (shrink)
Moral relativism provides a compelling explanation of linguistic data involving ordinary moral expressions like 'right' and 'wrong'. But it is a very radical view. Because relativism relativizes sentence truth to contexts of assessment it forces us to revise standard linguistic theory. If, however, no competing theory explains all of the evidence, perhaps it is time for a paradigm shift. However, I argue that a version of moral contextualism can account for the same data as relativism without relativizing (...) sentence truth to contexts of assessment. This version of moral contextualism is thus preferable to relativism on methodological grounds. (shrink)
The setting of relativistic ideas about truth in the general style of semantic-theoretic apparatus pioneered by Lewis, Kaplan and others has persuaded many that they should at least be taken seriously as competition in the space of explanatory linguistic theory, a type of view which properly formulated, may offer an at least coherent — and indeed, in the view of some, a superior —account of certain salient linguistic data manifest in, for example, discourse about epistemic modals, about knowledge and about (...) matters of taste and value, and may also offer the prospect of a coherent regimentation of the Aristotelian "Open Future" (along with, perhaps, the Dummettian ’anti-real’ past.) My main purpose here to enter a reminder of certain underlying philosophical issues about relativism — about its metaphysical coherence, its metasemantic obligations, and the apparent limitations of the kind of local linguistic evidence which contemporary proponents have adduced in its favour —of which there is a risk that its apparent rehabilitation in rigorous semantic dress may encourage neglect. (shrink)
Many philosophers, in different areas, are tempted by what variously goes under the name of Contextualism, Speaker Relativism, Indexical Relativism. (I’ll just use Indexical Relativism in this paper.) Thinking of certain problematic expressions as deriving their content from elements of the context of use solves some problems. But it faces some problems of its own, and in this paper I’m interested in one in particular, namely, the problem of disagreement. Two alternative theories, tempting for just the same (...) kinds of expressions as Indexical Relativism is meant to handle, promise to solve the problem of disagreement. I’ll argue that they do not live up to their promise. At the end of the paper, I’ll ask what exactly disagreement amounts to, and I’ll canvass some purported solutions. (shrink)
Moral relativism is an attractive position, but also one that it is difficult to formulate. In this paper, we propose an alternative way of formulating moral relativism that locates the relativity of morality in the property that makes moral claims true. Such an approach, we believe, has significant advantages over other possible ways of formulating moral relativism. We conclude by considering a few problems such a position might face.
The main goal in this paper is to outline and defend a form of Relativism, under which truth is absolute but assertibility is not. I dub such a view Norm-Relativism in contrast to the more familiar forms of Truth-Relativism. The key feature of this view is that just what norm of assertion, belief, and action is in play in some context is itself relative to a perspective. In slogan form: there is no fixed, single norm for assertion, (...) belief, and action. Upshot: 'knows' is neither context-sensitive nor perspectival. (shrink)
I begin with some familiar conceptions of epistemic relativism. One kind of epistemic relativism is descriptive pluralism. This is the simple, non-normative thesis that many different communities, cultures, social networks, etc. endorse different epistemic systems (E-systems), i.e., different sets of norms, standards, or principles for forming beliefs and other doxastic states. Communities try to guide or regulate their members’ credence-forming habits in a variety of different, i.e., incompatible, ways. Although there may be considerable overlap across cultures in certain (...) types of epistemic norms (e.g., norms for perceptual belief), there are sharp differences across groups in other types of epistemic norms. (shrink)
§1 To many in or on the edges of the Academy, ”Relativism” is a word with overtones of sinister iconoclasm, representing a kind of intellectual and ethical free-for-all in which the traditional investigative virtues of clarity, rigour, objectivity, consistency and the unbiased pursuit of truth are dismissed as illusory and the great scientific constructions of the last two hundred years, together with our deepest moral convictions, rated merely as ‘our way of seeing’ the world, more elaborate and organised but (...) otherwise on all fours with the cosmology and customs of primitive tribes. In his short book, Paul Boghossian aims to address, and to expose as bankrupt, the idea that there is even a coherent, let alone defensible philosophical stance about truth and knowledge that can underwrite these ‘pluralist’, or ‘postmodernist’ tendencies. But since it is crucial to his project that his style of discussion make it available to non-specialists, much of the recent more technical, less emotional debate within analytical philosophy about relativism’s renaissance as a particular form of semantic theory is passed over unmentioned. Part of my aim in what follows is to illustrate how Boghossian's discussion connects quite straightforwardly with relativism in its contemporary analytical philosophical livery—what I have elsewhere called New Age relativism1— and how some of his critical arguments may be presented in that setting. My main contentions will be, first, that when relativism about epistemic justification, and about morals, are couched in the currently canonical sort of form, they still remain in range of artillery that Boghossian positions in chapter 6 of his book; second, that there is evasive action that they can.. (shrink)
According to moral relativism, there is not a single true morality. There are a variety of possible moralities or moral frames of reference, and whether something is morally right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust, etc. is a relative matter—relative to one or another morality or moral frame of reference. Something can be morally right relative to one moral frame of reference and morally wrong relative to another. It is useful to compare moral relativism to other (...) relativisms. One possible comparison is with motion relativism. There is no such thing as absolute motion or absolute rest. Whether something is moving or at rest is relative to a spatio-temporal frame of reference. Something may be at rest in one frame of reference and moving in another. There is no such thing as absolute motion and absolute rest, but we can make do with relative motion and rest. Similarly, moral relativism is the view that, although there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong, we can make do with relative right and wrong. (shrink)
Recently a number of writers have argued that a new form of relativism involves a form of semantic context-dependence which helps it escape the perhaps most common objection to ordinary contextualism; that it cannot accommodate our intuitions about disagreement. I argue: (i) In order to evaluate this claim we have to pay closer attention to the nature of our intuitions about disagreement. (ii) We have different such intuitions concerning different questions: we have more stable disagreement intuitions about moral disputes (...) than about, say, disputes about matters of taste. (iii) The new form of relativism does not vindicate the stable intuitions about disagreement. (iv) It does a better job explaining the unstable intuitions than contextualism. But, pace some relativists, it is not clear that assertion-truth rather than just proposition-truth has to be relativized to accomplish this. (shrink)
Moral relativism comes in many varieties. One is a moral doctrine, according to which we ought to respect other cultures, and allow them to solve moral problems as they see fit. I will say nothing about this kind of moral relativism in the present context. Another kind of moral relativism is semantic moral relativism, according to which, when we pass moral judgements, we make an implicit reference to some system of morality (our own). According to this (...) kind of moral relativism, when I say that a certain action is right, my statement is elliptic. What I am really saying is that, according to the system of morality in my culture, this action is right. I will reject this kind of relativism. According to yet another kind of moral relativism, which we may call epistemic, it is possible that, when one person (belonging to one culture) makes a certain moral judgement, such as that this action is right, and another person (belong to another culture) makes the judgement that the very same action is wrong, they may have just as good reasons for their respective judgements; it is even possible that, were they fully informed about all the facts, equally imaginative, and so forth, they would still hold on to their respective (conflicting) judgements. They are each fully justified in their belief in conflicting judgements. I will comment on this form of moral relativism in passing. Finally, however, there is a kind of moral relativism we could call ontological, according to which, when two persons pass conflicting moral verdicts on a certain action, they may both be right. The explanation is that they make their judgements from the perspective of different, socially constructed, moral universes. So while it is true in the first person's moral universe that a certain action is right, it is true in the second person's moral universe that the very same action is wrong. I explain and defend this version of ontological moral relativism. (shrink)
Relativism has dominated many intellectual circles, past and present, but the twentieth century saw it banished to the fringes of mainstream analytic philosophy. Of late, however, it is making something of a comeback within that loosely configured tradition, a comeback that attempts to capitalize on some important ideas in foundational semantics. Relativism and Monadic Truth aims not merely to combat analytic relativism but also to combat the foundational ideas in semantics that led to its revival. Doing so (...) requires a proper understanding of the significance of possible worlds semantics, an examination of the relation between truth and the flow of time, an account of putatively relevant data from attitude and speech act reporting, and a careful treatment of various operators. Throughout, Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne contrast relativism with a view according to which the contents of thought and talk are propositions that instantiate the fundamental monadic properties of truth simpliciter and falsity simpliciter. Such propositions, they argue, are the semantic values of sentences (relative to context), the objects of illocutionary acts, and, unsurprisingly, the objects of propositional attitudes. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the kind of evidence that might be adduced in support of relativist semantics of a kind that have recently been proposed for predicates of personal taste, for epistemic modals, for knowledge attributions and for other cases. I shall concentrate on the case of taste predicates, but what I have to say is easily transposed to the other cases just mentioned. I shall begin by considering in general the question of what kind of (...) evidence can be offered in favour of some semantic theory or framework of semantic theorizing. In other words, I shall begin with the difficult question of the empirical significance of semantic theorizing. In Sect. 2, I outline a relativist semantic theory, and in Sect. 3, I review four types of evidence that might be offered in favour of a relativistic framework. I show that the evidence is not conclusive because a sophisticated form of contextualism (or indexical relativism) can stand up to the evidence. However, the evidence can be taken to support the view that either relativism or the sophisticated form of contextualism is correct. (shrink)
Relativist and constructivist conceptions of truth and knowledge have become orthodoxy in vast stretches of the academic world in recent times. In his long-awaited first book, Paul Boghossian critically examines such views and exposes their fundamental flaws. Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed--one as a thesis about truth and two about justification. And he rejects all three. The intuitive, common-sense view is that there is a way the world is that is (...) independent of human opinion; and that we are capable of arriving at beliefs about how it is that are objectively reasonable, binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence regardless of their social or cultural perspective. Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them. This short, lucid, witty book shows that philosophy provides rock-solid support for common sense against the relativists. It will prove provocative reading throughout the discipline and beyond. (shrink)
Unlike the relativistic theses drawn from physics, normative relativisms involve relativization not to frames of reference but to something like our standards, standards that we have to be able to think of ourselves as endorsing or accepting. Th us, moral facts are to be relativized to moral standards and epistemic facts to epistemic standards. But a moral standard in this sense would appear to be just a general moral proposition and an epistemic standard just a general epistemic proposition. Pulling off (...) either relativism, then, requires not just relativizing the facts in the domain in question to the relevant standards; it requires taking a non-absolutist view of the standards themselves. Otherwise a commitment to absolute truths in the domain in question will show up in one’s attitude towards the standards themselves. But it is very hard to see how to take a genuinely non-absolutist attitude towards the standards themselves. That, in essence, is the difficulty for a relativistic view of a normative domain that I tried to develop in Chapter 6 of Fear of Knowledge. In their commentaries, Gideon Rosen and Ram Neta come up with ingenious ways of attempting to circumvent that difficulty. In my reply, I try to explain why I don’t believe they succeed. (shrink)
Epistemic possibilities are relative to bodies of information, or perspectives. To claim that something is epistemically possible is typically to claim that it is possible relative one’s own current perspective. We generally do this by using bare, unqualified epistemic possibility (EP) sentences, ones that don’t mention our perspective. The fact that epistemic possibilities are relative to perspectives suggests that these bare EP sentences fall short of fully expressing propositions, contrary to what both contextualists and relativists take for granted. Although they (...) rightly reject propositional invariantism, the implausible view that a bare EP sentence expresses the same classical (absolutely true or absolutely false) proposition in any context, they maintain that a change in perspective shifts either the sentence’s propositional content (to a proposition involving a different perspective) or its truth-value (the same perspectivally neutral proposition now evaluated from a different perspective). I deny that the semantic contents of bare EP sentences shift at all. But I also deny that these contents have truth-values. Rather, according to the radical invariantism I defend, these contents are not full-fledged propositions but merely propositional radicals. Only explicitly relativized EP sentences manage fully to express propositions, and these perspective-involving propositions are the only EP propositions there are. Nevertheless, bare EP sentences are perfectly capable of being used to assert EP propositions, because utterances of them implicitly allude to the relevant perspective. Various problem cases challenge radical invariantism to explain pragmatically which perspective is read into the utterance of a given bare EP sentence. Unlike contextualism and relativism, it can do this without having to resort to any semantic bells and whistles.. (shrink)
Ethical relativism is the thesis that ethical principles or judgments are relative to the individual or culture. When stated so vaguely relativism is embraced by numerous lay persons and a sizeable contingent of philosophers. Other philosophers, however, find the thesis patently false, even wonder how anyone could seriously entertain it. Both factions are on to something, yet both miss something significant as well. Those who whole-heartedly embrace relativism note salient respects in which ethics is relative, yet erroneously (...) infer that ethical values are noxiously subjective. Those who reject relativism do so because they think ethics is subject to rational scrutiny, that moral views can be correct or incorrect. But in rejecting objectionable features of relativism they overlook significant yet non-pernicious ways in which ethics is relative. (shrink)
Beginning with a historical overview of relativism, from Pythagoras in ancient Greece to Derrida and postmodernism, Maria Baghramian explores the resurgence of relativism throughout the history of philosophy. She then turns to the arguments for and against the many subdivisions of relativism, including Kuhn and Feyerabend's ideas of relativism in science, Rorty's relativism about truth, and the conceptual relativism of Quine and Putnam. Baghramian questions whether moral relativism leads to moral indifference or even (...) nihilism, and whether feminist epistemology's concerns about the very notion of objectivity can be considered a form of relativism. She concludes the relativism debate by assessing the recent criticisms such as Quine's argument from translation and Davidson's claim that even the motivations behind relativism are unintelligible. Finding these criticisms lacking, Baghramian proposes a moderate form of pluralism which addresses the legitimate worries that give rise to relativism without incurring charges of nihilism or anarchy. (shrink)
Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne’s Relativism and Monadic Truth presses a number of worries about relativistic content. It forces one to think carefully about what a relativist should mean by saying that speakers disagree or contradict one another in asserting such content. My focus is on this question, though at points (in particular in Sect. 4) I touch on other issues Cappelen and Hawthorne (CH) raise.
In this article I set out a reason for believing in a form of metaethical relativism. In rough terms, the reason is this: a widely held thesis, internalism, tells us that to accept (sincerely assert, believe, etc.) a moral judgment logically requires having a motivating reason. Since the connection is logical, or conceptual, it must be explained by a theory of what it is to accept a moral claim. I argue that the internalist feature of moral expressions can best (...) be explained by my version of moral relativism, which I call "speaker relativism.". (shrink)
This paper is a reply to Simon Blackburn's 'Is Objective Moral Justification Possible on a Quasi-realist Foundation?' Inquiry 42 (1999), pp. 213-28. Blackburn attempts to show how his version of non-cognitivism - quasi-realist projectivism - can evade the threat of ethical relativism, the thought that all ways of living are as ethically good as each other and every ethical judgment is as ethically true as any other. He further attempts to show that his position is superior in this (...) respect to, amongst other accounts, sensibility theory (or 'secondary quality' theory). According to Blackburn, sensibility theory succumbs easily to the relativistic challenge because it depends on some 'substantive' notion of truth. It is agreed with Blackburn that the threat of relativism is less of a threat to him than at first appears, although I think that it retains some menace, but not agreed that sensibility theorists cannot also counter the threat of relativism (although, again, ethical relativism retains some menace in the face of the sensibility theorist's reply). The point is that the threat of ethical relativism depends less on truth than Blackburn supposes. Thus sensibility theorists can counter ethical relativism in much the same way that quasi-realist projectivists can. (shrink)
The main purpose of this paper is to characterize and compare two forms any relativist thesis can take: indexical relativism and genuine relativism. Indexical relativists claim that the implicit indexicality of certain sentences is the only source of relativity. Genuine relativists, by contrast, claim that there is relativity not just at the level of sentences, but also at propositional level. After characterizing each of the two forms and discussing their difficulties, I argue that the difference between the two (...) is significant. (shrink)
It has often been suggested that people's ordinary understanding of morality involves a belief in objective moral truths and a rejection of moral relativism. The results of six studies call this claim into question. Participants did offer apparently objectivist moral intuitions when considering individuals from their own culture, but they offered increasingly relativist intuitions considering individuals from increasingly different cultures or ways of life. The authors hypothesize that people do not have a fixed commitment to moral objectivism but instead (...) tend to adopt different views depending on the degree to which they consider radically different perspectives on moral questions. (shrink)
The key problem for normative (or moral) cultural relativism arises as soon as we try to formulate it. It resists formulations that are (1) clear, precise, and intelligible; (2) plausible enough to warrant serious attention; and (3) faithful to the aims of leading cultural relativists, one such aim being to produce an important alternative to moral universalism. Meeting one or two of these conditions is easy; meeting all three is not. I discuss twenty-four candidates for the label "cultural (...) class='Hi'>relativism," showing that not one meets all three conditions. In the end I conclude that cultural relativists have produced nothing that threatens universalism. (shrink)
Moderate relativism -- The framework -- The distribution of content -- Radical vs. moderate relativism -- Two levels of content -- Branch points for moderate relativism -- The debate over temporalism (1) : do we need temporal propositions? -- Modal vs. extensional treatments of tense -- What is at stake? -- Modal and temporal innocence -- Temporal operators and temporal propositions in an extensional framework -- The debate over temporalism (2) : can we believe temporal propositions? -- (...) An epistemic argument against temporalism -- Rebutting Richard's argument -- Relativistic disagreement -- Relativization and indexicality -- Index, context, and content -- The two-stage picture : Lewis vs. Kaplan and Stalnaker -- Rescuing the two-stage picture -- Content, character, and cognitive significance -- Experience and subjectivity -- Content and mode -- Duality and the fallacy of misplaced information -- The content of perceptual judgements -- Episodic memory -- Immunity to error through misidentification -- Implicit self-reference -- Weak and strong immunity -- Quasi-perception and quasi-memory -- Reflexive states -- Relativization and reflexivity -- The (alleged) reflexivity of de se thoughts -- Reflexivity : internal or external? -- What is wrong with reflexivism -- The first person point of view -- De se thoughts and subjectivity -- Memory and the imagination -- Imagination and the self-- Imagination, empathy, and the quasi-de se -- Egocentricity and beyond -- Unarticulated constituents in the lekton? -- The context-dependence of the lekton : how far can we go? -- Unarticulatedness and the 'concerning' relation -- Three (alleged) arguments for the externality principle -- Invariance -- Self-relative thoughts -- The problem of the essential indexical -- Perry against relativized propositions -- Context-relativity -- Implicit and explicit de se thoughts -- Shiftability -- The generalized reflexive constraint -- Parametric invariance and m-shiftability -- Free shiftability -- The anaphoric mode : a Bühlerian perspective. (shrink)