Relativism—a Pervasive Feature of the Contemporary Western World?

Social Epistemology 29 (1):31-43 (2015)
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Abstract

What is relativism? Why should we adopt a relativistic stance towards what we and others hold to be true about the world? And how did relativism come to be such a pervasive feature of the contemporary Western world? These are questions which I address in this paper. To relativize is to maintain that what is true—and not merely what is taken to be true—is dependent upon group, community, society, culture and the like and is not simply true in a universal way; that is, the same everywhere and for everyone. This is the Relativist Thesis. This thesis, in combination with some of the other theses concerning relativism, in particular the Expansionist Thesis—the idea that the scope of what is relative is significantly greater than what has previously been thought—makes the refutation of relativism much harder than philosophers in general have commonly assumed

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Mikael Stenmark
Uppsala University (PhD)

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