How to Formulate Relativism

Carol Rovane

in Mind, Meaning, and Knowledge

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199278053
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745386 | DOI:
How to Formulate Relativism

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Wright accepts that relativism arises with irresoluble disagreements in which both parties are (or can be) right, but rejects the semantic relativists’ strategy for handling the resulting threat of contradiction. He has explored two other strategies — one exploits the framework of anti-realism, and the other introduces the idea of a Quandary. But all attempts to formulate relativism in terms of disagreement suffer from the same problem: either they fail to preserve a disagreement or they incur contradiction (or a related form of incoherence). A different strategy for formulating relativism appeals to the idea of alternatives — truths that cannot be embraced together because they are neither inconsistent nor consistent, but are therefore normatively insulated from one another. So formulated, relativism imposes a distinctive normative stance that is neither disagreement nor agreement, and it carries a distinctive metaphysical commitment to Multimundialism — the idea that there are many worlds rather than one.

Keywords: relativism; disagreement; relative truth; anti-realism; Quandary; alternative; normative insularity; Multimundialism

Chapter.  15853 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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