, Volume 191, Issue 8, pp 1683–1695 | Cite as

A new maneuver against the epistemic relativist

  • J. Adam CarterEmail author
  • Emma C. Gordon


Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we grant the very insights that lead Hacking to claim that epistemic reasons are always relative to a style of reasoning. Surprisingly, the key to defusing the argument is to be found in recent mainstream work on the epistemic state of objectual understanding.


Understanding Epistemic relativism Epistemic reasons Hacking Wittgenstein 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Eidyn Research Centre, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language SciencesUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK

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