Relativism: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed)
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Relativism is a philosophical topic that has many dimensions and can mean many things. It is the view that one thing owes existence, truth, goodness or beauty to something else and is central to an understanding of any of the four traditional divisions of philosophy: ontology, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics.
Relativism: A Guide for the Perplexed offers a concise introduction to relativism and how it applies to the different parts of the basic, foundational areas of philosophy and, indeed, to every area of human enquiry. Timothy Mosteller provides an overview of the topic across the discipline of philosophy, examining it in detail in its primary forms: ontological relativism, epistemological relativism, moral relativism and aesthetic relativism. The book concludes with a summary of the role of relativism in three other key academic disciplines: science, politics, and religion.
independently of me, and there is no single description of whether or not the beans are what they are independently of me. In Putnam’s words, if I pick one of the things that I have spilled on my table, and I describe this thing as something that exists independently of me and is a bean independently of my interests, what I certainly have not done is given a ‘description’ that somehow copies these properties from the reality which I am describing. What I have done, or so Putnam would have us
facts’ in ethics, like there are believed to be in disciplines such as physics or chemistry or engineering, cannot get oﬀ the ground simply by being asserted. One must ﬁrst show, by way of argumentation, that there are no such moral truths. Oftentimes in discussing moral relativism with undergraduate students, we might compare how we would adjudicate an empirical dispute over the height of the administration building with how we would adjudicate a moral dispute over a case like the Kwakiutl
accounts given throughout MacIntyre’s works on how traditions defeat one another by demonstrating their problem-solving ability vis-à-vis the lights of the other tradition, show relativism simply doesn’t follow.13 However, it seems that there may be an inconsistency in maintaining ii. and iii. It is inconsistent to maintain that there is no neutral account of rationality and to give a normative account of how traditions defeat one another. If there is no tradition-neutral account of rationality,
philosophical assumptions of Greek philosophy. For the Arian, S2 is a legitimate standard found only within the constraints of R2, making q an orthodox belief within R2 and ~q a heretical belief within R2. 91 RELATIVISM: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED The relativist will further add that given a dispute between S1 found within R1 and S2 found within R2, there is no neutral way to adjudicate between these two standards of evaluation that are relative to the religions in which they occur. Thus, one
possibility of some locally neutral way of determining which standards of evaluation should be used to solve the dispute. This logical argument for the possibility of local neutrality centres on the nature or meaning of what it is to have standards of epistemic evaluation that one takes to be backed by non-arbitrary good reasons. From the fact that a person has standards of epistemic evaluation, if one holds those standards for what one takes to be good reasons, it logically follows that one