Thursday, November 30, 2006

Rational Relativism

In contrast to Paul Boghossian’s book refuting relativism (mentioned in my previous post), is Steven Hales’ new book, Relativism and the Foundations of Philosophy, defending a form of relativism. Hales is well-schooled in analytic philosophy and logic and will avoid the relativism which asserts the self-refuting proposition that “everything is relative”, and will instead defend the proposition “everything true is relatively true”. Haven’t seen yet how he’ll make that statement non-self-refuting, but I know from previous books of his that he’s aware of the problem and has an answer.

So far, there is a very interesting discussion about rational intuition. This is the necessity of philosophers to say there are certain bedrock propositions which we know to be true intuitively. Hales says philosophy can’t do without them, but it’s not clear how they are justified. How do we decide which of conflicting intuitions are right?

1 comment:

Zetetic_chick said...

Hi Jeff,

I haven't read Hales' book, but I want to get a copy of it soon.

Meanwhile, I can't see how relativism isn't self-refuting. The thesis "everything truth is relatively truth" seems to be a non-relative proposition, because by "relatively truth" it seems to pressupose that one truth is relative to a specific context. But in that case, that "contextual truth" is a non-relative truth.

In any case, philosopher Steven Yates has a paper titled "Self-Referential Arguments in Philosophy" where he examines the relativism's thesis:

I don't know if Hales' new relativist thesis would escape Yates' criticisms.