, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 391-398
Date: 15 Oct 2008

Boghossian, Bellarmine, and Bayes

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As Paul Boghossian sees it, postmodernist relativists and constructivists are paralyzed by a “fear of knowledge.” For example, they lack the courage to say, in the face of the Lakotas’ claim that their ancestors came from inside the earth, that it is a matter of known fact that their ancestors came across the Bering Strait. To avoid this, they accept the nonconfrontational view Boghossian calls

(Equal Validity) There are many radically different, yet ‘equally valid’ ways of knowing the world, with science being just one of them (2).

Except as noted, all page references are to Boghossian (2006).

Boghossian suggests two sources for the continuing appeal of this view. The first is a postcolonial unwillingness to criticize cultures as inferior. Here, he notes, Equal Validity is a two-edged sword: “for if the powerful can’t criticize the oppressed, because the central epistemological categories are inexorably tied to particular perspectives, it also follows that the oppressed can’t criticize t