Chapter

Cutting-edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-epistemology

Barbara Herrnstein Smith

in Scandalous Knowledge

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748620234
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671670 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748620234.003.0004
Cutting-edge Equivocation: Conceptual Moves and Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary Anti-epistemology

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The fourth chapter examines the rise of conceptually and rhetorically equivocating positions among some academic philosophers (e.g., Brian Cantwell Smith and Andy Clark) and other theorists (e.g., feminist epistemologists such as Lorraine Code and Donna Haraway) who are explicitly sympathetic to constructivist epistemological developments but unwilling to relinquish key aspects of traditional (realist, rationalist or objectivist) understandings of truth and knowledge and/or anxious to avoid charges of relativism. A major problem with the resulting hybrid formulations, which seek to “steer a course,” as they often claim, “between Scylla and Charybdis,” is that, composed as they are of essentially incompatible elements, they can do little theoretical work. While the personal-intellectual and professional-institutional pressures leading to such dubious navigations are substantial (and described here in some detail), so also, it is argued, are their ultimate institutional risks and broader intellectual costs.

Keywords: truth; knowledge; epistemology; equivocation; constructivism; realism; relativism; feminist epistemology

Chapter.  9771 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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