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60. Relativism


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics relativism, science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00063.x


Relativism about a property P is the thesis that any statement of the form “Entity E has P ” is ill formed, while statements of the form “ E has P relative to S ” are well formed, and true for appropriate E and S. Relativism about P therefore entails the claim that P is a relation rather than a one-place predicate. In the principal forms of relativism, the variable S ranges over cultures, world views, conceptual schemes, practices, disciplines, paradigms, styles, standpoints, or goals. Innumerably many forms of relativism are entirely unobjectionable. An obvious example is relativism about the property “utility,” since a tool or instrument is useful only relative to a particular goal. Even relativism about the merits of conceptual systems and taxonomic schemes is reasonably uncontentious, since practically everyone finds different concepts and taxonomies preferable in different circumstances. Among more controversial forms of relativism, the following are those of greatest interest in philosophy of science. Relativism about truth, or epistemological relativism, is the thesis that propositions have truth-value not absolutely, but only from a particular standpoint, and that in general a proposition has different truth-values from different standpoints. Unrestricted relativism about truth - that is, a relativism that counts its own statement among the propositions ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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