The Justificationist Roots of Relativism

  • I. C. Jarvie
Part of the Library of Philosophy and Religion book series (LPR)

Abstract

Confronted with the diverse range of religious claims to truth one can affirm one of them, deny the rest, and thereby be a believer and a non-relativist; one can deny them all, and thereby be a nonbeliever and an anti-relativist; and one can affirm them all, each in its cultural place, without thereby being a believer: one is then a relativist. There are no other logical options. The two positions which interest me here are relativism and anti-relativism. At first glance they might seem symmetrical, or mirrors of one another: the relativist affirms what the anti-relativist denies. Yet beyond this simple relation of negation the two are as different as chalk and cheese. Relativism has a justificationist structure and an authoritarian epistemology to go with it. Anti-relativism, by contrast, can be formulated free from those deficiencies.

Keywords

Lution Stake Univer Metaphor Chalk 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    W. W. Bartley III, The Retreat to Commitment (New York: Knopf, 1961).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Bartley, The Retreat to Commitment, op. cit., and Morality and Religion (London: Macmillan, 1971).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 8.
    See Popper’s British Academy Lecture, “On the Sources of Knowledge and of Ignorance,” reprinted in Objective Knowledge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Melford E. Spiro, “Cultural Relativism and the Future of Anthropology,” Cultural Anthropology, vol. 1, 1986, pp. 259–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 13.
    See Morris Ginsberg, On the Diversity of Morals (London: Heinemann, 1956), a book greatly influenced by L. T. Hobhouse.Google Scholar
  6. 20.
    Walter Kaufmann, Without Guilt and Justice: From Decidophobia to Autonomy (New York: P. J. Wyden, 1973).Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    See also I. C. Jarvie and Joseph Agassi, “A Study in Westernization” (1970), reprinted in Agassi and Jarvie, eds, Rationality: The Critical View (Dordrecht: Nijhoff, 1987), pp. 395–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Wake Forest University 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. C. Jarvie

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations