The evidence for relativism

Synthese 166 (2):375-395 (2009)
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Abstract

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 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

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Max Kölbel
University of Vienna

Citations of this work

The Semantic Significance of Faultless Disagreement.Michele Palmira - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 96 (3):349-371.
No Deep Disagreement for New Relativists.Ragnar Francén - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 151 (1):19--37.
An Absolutist Theory of Faultless Disagreement in Aesthetics.Carl Baker & Jon Robson - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (3):429-448.

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References found in this work

Studies in the way of words.Herbert Paul Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Philosophical papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Themes From Kaplan.Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.) - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Languages and language.David K. Lewis - 2010 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing about language. New York: Routledge. pp. 3-35.

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