David J. Stump
University of San Francisco
In response to a recent argument by David Bloor, I argue that denying absolutes does not necessarily lead to relativism, that one can be a fallibilist without being a relativist. At issue are the empirical natural sciences and what might be called “framework relativism”, that is, the idea that there is always a conceptual scheme or set of practices in use, and all observations are theory-laden relative to the framework. My strategy is to look at the elements that define a relativist stance and show where the pragmatic fallibilist disagrees. Defending the pragmatic notion of experience will be central, given that relativists reject the idea that experience can play a role in objectively justifying belief. We can reject all absolutes and start from the premise that everything is historical, contingent, and situated. One of the lessons of pragmatism is that universal and fixed principles are not necessary for objective knowledge.
Keywords relativism, absolutes, fallibilism, David Bloor, Martin Kusch
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Reprint years 2021
DOI 10.1007/s10838-021-09579-x
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