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Facing Relativism


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Table of Contents

1. Deep Engagement1. Introduction1.0 Relativism and Cultural Diversity at First Glance1.1 Cultural Diversity without Relativism1.2 The Turn Toward Relativism2. Deep Engagement2.0 A Few Caveats2.1 Attributive Symmetry2.2 Reflective Symmetry2.3 Complexity of Context2.4 Dangling Pieces2.5 The First Person3. How Close Does This Get Us to Relativism?
2. The Relativist, Anti-Relativist Dance1. Introduction1.1 A Definition of Relativism1.2 Details of the Accusations2. The Relativist ~ Anti-Relativist Dance2.1 Preface2.2 The Charge of Self-Refutation2.2.1 Against Ethical Relativism2.2.2 Against Epistemic Relativism2.3 The Relativist’s Response2.4 The Charge of Incoherence2.4.1. Against Epistemic Relativism2.4.2. Against Ethical Relativism2.5 Tools for a Relativistic Picture2.5.1. A Relativist Point of View2.5.2. Relative Content3. Conclusion
3. Science, Success, and Alternatives1. The Tension Between Science and Alternative Epistemic Practices2. The Intuition of a ‘Clear Winner’ and a ‘Clear Loser’3. Comparing the Fruits of Competing Practices3.1 A Particular Example3.2 Why the Intuition Fails3.3 A Bold Claim3.4 Success the Other Way Around4. Comparing the Inner Theoretical Workings of Competing Practices5. Reassessing the Intuition of Success
4. The Dynamic of Resonance and Loss1. Introduction2. Relativism and Ambivalence3. The Dynamic of Resonance and Loss3.1. Two Contrasting Epistemic Stances3.1.1 Relation between Subject and Object3.1.1a Proximity of Subject and Object3.1.1b Likeness between Subject and Object3.1.2 Capturing Knowledge3.1.2a Process of Gathering Information3.1.2b Form of Information3.1.2c Primary Mode of Constituting Knowledge3.1.3 Calibration of Knowledge3.1.3a Measurement of Knowledge3.1.3b Aim of Collecting Knowledge3.1.3c Value of Knowledge3.2 Resonance3.3 Loss3.3.1 The First Moment: Estrangement3.3.2 The Second Moment: Pull4. Assessment is Internal to Stance5. Relativism and the Success of Science: A Shared Space
5. The Space Where Relativism and Realism Meet1. The Remaining Objection2. The Realist Argument against Relativism3. A Thought Experiment4. Incompleteness and the Metaphysical Space for a Genuine Variety of Epistemic Practices5. Reacting to Rich Realism5.1 Uneasiness about Other Worlds5.2 The Burden of the Argument6. The Anti-Relativist’s Response6.1 The Broad Claim to Comprehensiveness6.2 The More Limited Claim to Comprehensiveness7. Fitting Realism and Relativism Together
6. Broad, Compelling, and Coherent Relativism1. Entrenched Conflict2. Distinctiveness of Entrenched Conflict2.1 Not Defined by Polar Opposition of Claims2.2 Not Dependent on a Reified Concept of Culture2.3 Not Defined by Complete Untranslatability or Incomprehensibility2.4 Not an “Anything Goes” View2.5 Not Defined by Tolerance2.6 Not an Absolute Claim3. A Space for Criticism3.1 Criticism of Others3.2 Criticism/Construction of Ourselves4. Conclusion

About the Author

Alyssa Luboff is an independent philosopher living in Portland, Oregon. She earned her B.A. in philosophy with honors from Yale Universitiy, and her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Chicago. She has taught at Grand Valley State University (Michigan), Portland State University (Oregon), and ESPOCH University (Riobamba, Ecuador). Her research brings together philosophical and anthropological reflection, drawing especially on her experiences living and working in the Ecuadorian Chocó rainforest. She believes that cross-cultural investigation is not only imperative in our rapidly shifting times, but that it may hold the key to solving our most pressing global problems.

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