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)
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)
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.
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.
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)
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 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)
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 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 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)
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 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.
ABSTRACT: The arguments for and against a truth-relativist semantics for propositional knowledge attributions (KTR) have been debated almost exclusively in the philosophy of language. But what implications would this semantic thesis have in epistemology? This question has been largely unexplored. The aim of this paper is to establish and critique several ramifications of KTR in mainstream epistemology. The first section of the paper develops, over a series of arguments, the claim that MacFarlane’s (2005; 2010) core argument for KTR ultimately motivates (...) (for better or worse) the extension of a truthrelativist semantics to a subset of understanding attributions—attributions of understandingwhy. I conclude by presenting some reasons to think that even if KTR were otherwise plausible, a truth-relativist semantics for understanding-why attributions is not. These claims, taken together, constitute a kind of epistemological argument against MacFarlanestyle truth-relativism for knowledge attributions. (shrink)
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)
Many point to Peter Winch’s discussion of rationality, relativism, and religion as a paradigmatic example of cultural relativism. In this paper, I argue that Winch’s relationship to relativism is widely misinterpreted in that, despite his pluralistic understanding of rationality, Winch does allow for universal features of culture in virtue of which cross-cultural understanding and even critique is possible. Nevertheless, I also argue that given the kind of cultural universals that Winch produces, he fails to avoid relativism. (...) This is because in order to provide the standards without which relativism ensues, one requires a certain kind of criteria of rationality, namely, what I here call substantive universals, a kind of criteria which Winch rejects. (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)
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.
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)
Despite Donald Davidson's influential criticism of the very notion of conceptual schemes, the notion continues enjoying its popularity in contemporary philosophy and, accordingly, conceptual relativism is still very much alive. There is one major reason responsible for Davidson's failure which has not been widely recognized: What Davidson attacks fiercely is not the very notion, but a notion of conceptual schemes, namely, the Quinean notion of conceptual schemes and its underlying Kantian scheme-content dualism. However, such a notion simply cannot carry (...) the weight of conceptual relativism for it does not catch the essences of conceptual relativism. Consequently, I argue that the very notion of conceptual schemes and conceptual relativism have survived Davidson's attack. Therefore, the failure of the Quinean notion of conceptual schemes and Kantian scheme-content dualism, even if Davidson can claim victory, does not mark the end of the very notion of conceptual schemes.[ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]. (shrink)
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)
The movement to respect culturaldiversity, known as multiculturalism, poses a dauntingchallenge to healthcare ethics. Can we construct adefensible passage from the fact of culturaldifferences to any claims regarding morality? Or doesmulticulturalism lead to ethical relativism? Macklinargues that, in view of a leading distinction betweenuniversalism in ethics and moral absolutism, the onlyreasonable passage avoids both absolutism andrelativism. She presents a strong case againstethical relativism and its pernicious consequences forcross-cultural issues in healthcare. She alsoprovides sound criteria for the assessment of (...) aculture's moral progress. (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.
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)
Part I of this paper discusses some uses of arguments from radical moral disagreement — in particular, as directed against absolutist cognitivism — and surveys some semantic issues thus made salient. It may be argued that parties to such a disagreement cannot be using the relevant moral claims with exactly the same absolutist cognitive content. That challenges the absolutist element of absolutist cognitivism, which, combined with the intractable nature of radical moral disagreement, in turn challenges the viability of a purely (...) cognitivist account of moral judgments. Such a conclusion could be staved off if it could be held that a sufficient condition for commonality of cognitive content in moral judgments could consist, despite the presence of radical moral disagreement, in the parties' acceptance of a common set of fundamental moral principles. Part 1 begins, and Part 2 further develops, a destructive critique of that idea, leading thereby to a skeptical appraisal of the important role sometimes assigned, in meta-ethical theorizing, to moral rules. Inter alia the paper is intended to suggest the possibility of overlap between relativist and particularist agendas. (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)
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)
A primary challenge from the relativist to the contextualist about epistemic modals is to explain eavesdropping data—i.e., why the eavesdropper is inclined to judge the speaker as having uttered an epistemic modal falsehood (when she is so inclined), even though the speaker’s utterance is true according to reasonable contextualist truth conditions. The issue turns in large part on the strength and shape of the data, both of which are in dispute. One complaint is that an eavesdropper’s truth value judgments fluctuate (...) with variations of non- epistemic fact (even after the relevant epistemic/information states are determined). The project here is to strengthen and reframe this complaint in a debate-neutral way, and to show how a sober contextualism can uniformly accommodate it and the standard eavesdropping data. Along the way we reject John Hawthorne’s danger-theoretic explanation of these subtleties. (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)
In this contribution, I explore the treatment that Plato devotes to Protagoras’ relativism in the first section of the Theaetetus (151 E 1–186 E 12) where, among other things, the definition that knowledge is perception is put under scrutiny. What I aim to do is to understand the subtlety of Plato’s argument about Protagorean relativism and, at the same time, to assess its philosophical significance by revealing the inextric¬ability of ontological and epistemological aspects on which it is built (...) (for this latter aspect, I refer to contemporary discussions of relativism, mainly to Margolis’ robust relativism). I then turn to Aristotle’s treatment of Protagoras’ relativism in Metaphysics Γ, sections 5 and 6, in order to show that Plato and Aristotle surprisingly share the same view as regards the philosophical content of Protagoras’ relativism (in doing so, I take position against the standard opinion among scholars that Plato and Aristotle understand Protagoras’ relativism in different, even incompatible, ways). What I ultimately aim to demonstrate is that Protagoras’ relativism, as understood by both Plato and Aristotle, is a coherent, even attractive, philosophical position. (shrink)
It has recently been proposed that the framework of semantic relativism be put to use to describe mental content, as deployed in some of the fundamental operations of the mind. This programme has inspired in particular a novel strategy of accounting for the essential egocentricity of first-personal or de se thoughts in relativist terms, with the advantage of dispensing with a notion of self-representation. This paper is a critical discussion of this strategy. While it is based on a plausible (...) appeal to cognitive economy, the relativist theory does not fully account for the epistemic profile that distinguishes de se thinking, as some of its proponents hope to do. A deeper worry concerns the reliance of the theory on a primitive notion of “centre” that hasn’t yet received enough critical attention, and is ambiguous between a thin and a rich reading. I argue that while the rich reading is required if the relativist analysis of the de se is to achieve its most ambitious aims, it also deprives the theory of much of its explanatory power. (shrink)
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)
“The Strong Programme” is put forward as a metaphysical theory of sociology by the Edinburgh School (SSK) to study the social causes of knowledge. Barry Barnes and David Bloor are the proponents of the School. They call their programme “the Relativist View of Knowledge” and argue against rationalism in the philosophy of science. Does their relativist account of knowledge present a serious challenge to rationalism, which has dominated 20th century philosophy of science? I attempt to answer this question by criticizing (...) the main ideas of SSK and defending rationalism theories in modern philosophy of science. (shrink)
The implementation of international human rights law has traditionally been undermined by the dichotomy between universalism and cultural relativism. Some groups regard human rights as more reflective of other culture’s and are unwilling to subscribe to them. One response to this is to enable groups to take co-ownership of human rights. Quality Circles based on institutions and technology, and the collaboration they encourage, provide one such means for doing so. What is required is for states to facilitate rather than (...) undermine and censor these processes. Human Rights Quality Circles at different levels represent one way in which the cultural relativism and universalism division can be addressed, particularly in an ever-globalising world. (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)
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.
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.