Philosophical Studies

, Volume 141, Issue 3, pp 391–398 | Cite as

Boghossian, Bellarmine, and Bayes

  • John MacFarlane
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).1

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 the powerful” (130). But in addition to its political...


Prima Facie Justify Belief Background Belief Epistemic Relativism Epistemic Principle 
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  1. Boghossian, P. (2006). Fear of knowledge: Against relativism and constructivism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. de Santillana, G. (1955). The crime of Galileo. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  3. Good, I. J. (1967). The white shoe is a red herring. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 17, 322.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Rorty, R. (1981). Philosophy and the mirror of nature. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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