Epistemic Relativism

Edited by Markus Seidel (Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster)
Assistant editor: Charlott Becker (Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster)
About this topic
Summary Epistemic relativism is the position that knowledge is valid only relatively to a specific context, society, culture or individual. The discussion about epistemic relativism is one of the most fundamental discussions in epistemology concerning our understanding of notions such as 'justification' and 'good reason'.
Key works In Barnes & Bloor 1982, two sociologists of knowledge explicitly endorse a relativist position.   Boghossian 2006 attacks several forms of epistemic relativism. Kuhn 1962 gave rise to epistemic relativist interpretations.  Feyerabend 1999 argues for epistemic relativism in the philosophy of science.  Nagel 1997 gives a Last Word on relativism endorsing an absolutist position.  Rorty 1991 defends a position taken by many to be relativistic.
Introductions Laudan 1990 provides an introduction about the controversy in dialogue-form, For a general introduction, see Swoyer 2008, 2.4 in the Stanford encyclopedia
Related categories

418 found
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Epistemic Relativism, Misc
  1. Responses to 'in Defense of Relativism'.Robert Ackermann, Brian Baigrie, Harold I. Brown, Michael Cavanaugh, Paul Fox-Strangways, Gonzalo Munevar, Stephen David Ross, Philip Pettit, Paul Roth, Frederick Schmitt, Stephen Turner & Charles Wallis - 1988 - Social Epistemology 2 (3):227 – 261.
  2. HITE, F. C.: "Knowledge and Relativism: An Essay in the Philosophy of Education". [REVIEW]F. D' Agostino - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:110.
  3. Where Constructionism and Critical Realism Converge: Interrogating the Domain of Epistemological Relativism.Ismael Al-Amoudi & Hugh Willmott - unknown
    The paper interrogates the status, nature and significance of epistemological relativism as a key element of constructionism and critical realism. It finds that epistemological relativism is espoused by authorities in critical realism and marginalized or displaced in the field of management and organization studies, resulting in forms of analysis that are empirically, but not fully critically, realist. This evaluation prompts reflection on the question of whether, how and with what implications epistemological relativism might be recast at the heart of critical (...)
  4. Does „One Cannot Know” Entail „Everyone is Right”? The Relationship Between Epistemic Scepticism and Relativism.Majid Amini & Christopher Caldwell - 2010 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 15 (1):103-118.
    The objective of the paper is to seek clarification on the relationship between epistemic relativism and scepticism. It is not infrequent to come across contemporary discussions of epistemic relativism that rely upon aspects of scepticism and, vice versa, discussions of scepticism drawing upon aspects of relativism. Our goal is to highlight the difference between them by illustrating that some arguments thought to be against relativism are actually against scepticism, that there are different ways of understanding the relationship between relativism and (...)
  5. Knowledge and Postmodernism in Historical Perspective.Joyce Oldham Appleby (ed.) - 1996 - Routledge.
    Knowledge and Postmodernism in Historical Perspective offers answers to the questions, what is postmodernism? and what exactly are the characteristics of the modernism that postmodernism supercedes? This comprehensive reader chronicles the western engagement with the nature of knowledge during the past four centuries while providing the historical context for the postmodernist thought of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Richard Rorty and Hayden White, and the challenges their ideas have posed to our conventional ways of thinking, writing and knowing. From the science (...)
  6. Relativism in History.Raymond Aron - 1959 - In Hans Meyerhoff (ed.), The Philosophy of History in Our Time. Garland. pp. 153--161.
  7. Conceptual Relativism.Bruce Aune - 1987 - Philosophical Perspectives 1:269-288.
  8. Epistemic Relativism and Socially Responsible Realism: A Few Responses to Linker.Dave Baggett - 2001 - Social Epistemology 16 (2):169 – 175.
  9. ' 'Relativism: A Brief History.M. Baghramian - 2010 - In Michael Kausz (ed.), Relativism: A Contemporary Anthology. Columbia University Press.
  10. Constructed Worlds, Contested Truths.Maria Baghramian - 2011 - In Richard Schantz & Markus Seidel (eds.), The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge. Ontos. pp. 105-130.
  11. Relativism About Science.Maria Baghramian - 2008 - In Martin Curd & Stathis Psillos (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 236--47.
  12. Relativism.Maria Baghramian - 2004 - Routledge.
    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 (...)
  13. Beyond Conceptual Relativism?(Re-Engaging Davidoson).R. Bal - 2005 - Indian Philosophical Quarterly 32 (1/2).
  14. The Dusk of Incommensurability.Nimrod Bar-Am - 2003 - Social Epistemology 17 (2 & 3):111 – 114.
  15. Relativism as a Completion of the Scientific Project.Barry Barnes - 2011 - In Richard Schantz & Markus Seidel (eds.), The Problem of Relativism in the Sociology of (Scientific) Knowledge. ontos. pp. 23-40.
  16. Relativism, Rationalism and the Sociology of Knowledge.Barry Barnes & David Bloor - 1982 - In Martin Hollis & Steven Lukes (eds.), Rationality and Relativism. Blackwell.
  17. Forms of Life and Following Rules: A Wittgensteinian Defence of Relativism.K. Barry Donald - 1996 - E.J. Brill.
    This book provides a defence of epistemological relativism against its most powerful opponents.
  18. The Paradox of Cognitive Relativism Revisited: A Reply to Jack W. Meiland.Edward Beach - 1984 - Metaphilosophy 15 (1):1–15.
    EDITORS NOTE: Typographical corrections of page proofs were accidentally left out of Dr. Beach's article, which appeared in the January issue of this volume. The omission diminishes the value of the article; and the Editor apologizes for the oversight to Dr. Beach and the readers of Metaphilosophy. A typographically correct version is given below.
  19. Relativism and Realism: The Nature and Limits of Epistemological Relativity.Gordon C. F. Bearn - 1985 - Dissertation, Yale University
    I use a reading of Kuhn to sketch a form of relativism which maintains that what is considered reasonable to believe is relative to scientific traditions. This form of relativism is articulated by showing how it can be defended against criticisms from three different kinds of realism: convergent realism, metaphysical realism, and internal realism. This involves an interpretation of the work of H. Putnam and M. Dummett. Finally I consider the ancient charge that relativism is self-refuting. I argue that the (...)
  20. Epistemological Relativism: Nature and Problems.B. Richard Beatch - 1994 - Dissertation, State University of New York at Buffalo
    Relativistic accounts of scientific knowledge have become more popular over the past thirty years than, perhaps, at any time previous to this. Ever since Kuhn offered his account of science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the philosophy of science has had to contend with various accounts of scientific truth ranging from Kuhnian type positions to the most radical positions such as that of Feyerabend. Relativism has not simply been limited to the philosophy of science, however. More and more, thinkers (...)
  21. Margolis's Moderate Relativism.R. R. Beatch - 1996 - Journal of Philosophical Research 21:81-94.
  22. Rationality and Relativism.José Benardete - 1983 - Review of Metaphysics 37 (1):122-124.
  23. Quine's Relativism.Lars Bergström - 2006 - Theoria 72 (4):286-298.
  24. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis.Richard J. Bernstein - 1983 - University of Pennsylvania Press.
    "A fascinating and timely treatment of the objectivism versus relativism debates occurring in philosophy of science, literary theory, the social sciences, ...
  25. The Sophists and Relativism.Richard Bett - 1989 - Phronesis 34 (1):139-169.
  26. Realism and Relativism.Akeel Bilgrami - 2002 - Noûs 36 (s1):1-25.
  27. Circularity, Scepticism and Epistemic Relativism.Steven Bland - 2015 - Social Epistemology 30 (2):150-162.
    It would seem that an epistemic framework can be justified only by means of a non-circular argument that establishes its truth-conduciveness. The problem of epistemic circularity suggests that no such argument is possible. Externalists and particularists have addressed the problem of scepticism by claiming that epistemically circular arguments can establish the truth-conduciveness of a framework’s epistemic methods. However, since these arguments are available for a good many frameworks, this response does nothing to answer the threat of epistemic relativism. The purpose (...)
  28. Incommensurability, Relativism, and the Epistemic Authority of Science.Steven Bland - 2014 - Episteme 11 (4):463-473.
  29. Scepticism, Relativism, and the Structure of Epistemic Frameworks.Steven Bland - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):539-544.
    This paper has four aims: first, to outline the role of the sceptical problem of the criterion in the principal argument for epistemic relativism; second, to establish that methodist and particularist responses to the problem of the criterion do not, by themselves, constitute successful strategies for resisting epistemic relativism; third, to argue that a more fruitful strategy is to attempt to evaluate epistemic frameworks on the basis of the epistemic resources that they have in common; and finally, to make the (...)
  30. Relativism and the Sociology of Knowledge.David Bloor - 2011 - In Steven Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism.
  31. Relativism at 30,000 Feet.David Bloor - 2008 - In Massimo Mazzotti (ed.), Knowledge as Social Order: Rethinking the Sociology of Barry Barnes.
  32. Epistemic Grace. Antirelativism as Theology in Disguise.David Bloor - 2007 - Common Knowledge 13 (2-3):250-280.
  33. Three Kinds of Relativism.Paul Boghossian - 2011 - In Steven Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism. Blackwell.
    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 And the third, which I dub with the oxymoronic label “absolutist relativism,” seeks to locate relativism in our acceptance of certain sorts of spare absolutist principles. -/- The first idea (...)
  34. Epistemic Relativism Defended.Paul Boghossian - 2010 - In Alvin I. Goldman & Dennis Whitcomb (eds.), Social Epistemology: Essential Readings. Oxford University Press.
  35. Replies to Wright, MacFarlane and Sosa. [REVIEW]Paul Boghossian - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 141 (3):409-432.
  36. What is Relativism?Paul Boghossian - 2006 - In Patrick Greenough & Michael Lynch (eds.), Truth and Relativism. Clarendon Press. pp. 13--37.
    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 term ‘‘relativism’’ has, of course, been used in a bewildering variety of senses (...)
  37. How Are Objective Epistemic Reasons Possible?Paul Boghossian - 2001 - Philosophical Studies 106 (1-2):340-380.
    Epistemic relativism has the contemporary academy in its grip. Not merely in the United States, but seemingly everywhere, most scholars working in the humanities and the social sciences seem to subscribe to some form of it. Even where the label is repudiated, the view is embraced. Sometimes the relativism in question concerns truth, sometimes justification. The core impulse appears to be a relativism about knowledge. The suspicion is widespread that what counts as knowledge in one cultural, or broadly ideological, setting (...)
  38. The Case Against Epistemic Relativism: Replies to Rosen and Neta.Paul Artin Boghossian - 2007 - Episteme 4 (1):49-65.
    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 (...)
  39. Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism.Paul Artin Boghossian - 2006 - Oxford University Press.
    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 (...)
  40. Sociological Relativism and the New Freedom.Charles D. Bolton - 1957 - Ethics 68 (1):11-27.
  41. Larry Laudan Beyond Positivism and Relativism. Theory, Method, and Evidence.Thomas Bonk - 1997 - Erkenntnis 47 (3):415-417.
  42. Brains/Practices/Relativism: Social Theory After Cognitive Science. [REVIEW]Cornelius Borck - 2003 - British Journal for the History of Science 36 (3):383-384.
  43. Relativism and Ambivalence in the Work of M. J. Herskovits.Erika Boupguignon - 2000 - Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 28 (1):103-114.
  44. Relativism and Ambivalence in the Work of M. J. Herskovits.Erika Boupguignon - 2000 - Ethos 28 (1):103-114.
  45. The Scandal of Sophism on the Epistemological Seriousness of Relativism.Daniel Boyarin - 2007 - Common Knowledge 13 (2-3):315-336.
  46. 1 Q Relativism Refuted?Richard Brandt - 2001 - In Paul K. Moser & Thomas L. Carson (eds.), Moral Relativism: A Reader. Oxford University Press. pp. 277.
  47. Historicist Relativism and Bootstrap Rationality.Larry Briskman - 1987 - In Joseph Agassi & I. C. Jarvie (eds.), The Monist. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 317--338.
  48. The Rational and the Social.James Robert Brown - 1989 - Routledge.
    THE SOCIOLOGICAL TURN The problem we are concerned with is just this: How should we understand science? Are we to account for scientific knowledge (or ...
  49. Scientific Rationality: The Sociological Turn.James Robert Brown - 1984 - D. Reidel Publishing Company.
  50. Rationality and Relativism Martin Hollis and Steven Lukes, Editors Oxford: Blackwell, 1982. Pp. 312. $34.25, Cloth; $18.25, Paper. [REVIEW]James Robert Brown - 1983 - Dialogue 22 (2):369-371.
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