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Countering Relativism

  • Paul Needham
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Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 423)

Abstract

An objective conception of truth is brought into question by the doctrine of relativism, according to which there is no truth simpliciter, but rather the notion of truth is relative to a person, an interest, a perspective or some-such. Despite the dilemma advanced by the ancients in criticism of the doctrine, it has continued to attract favour, most noticeably in the context of the philosophy of science in Kuhn’s conception of revolutionary change in science. His argument is found wanting, and a recent attempt to revamp it by Wray construes it as a much tamer doctrine which no longer poses the relativist’s challenge. Euclidean geometry and hydrodynamics in the seventeenth century provide examples illustrating gradual progress, contrary to the Kuhnian idea of revolutionary paradigm change, by critical extension and revision of earlier lines of thought in the spirit of Duhem’s continuity thesis.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Needham
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of StockholmStockholmSweden

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