Relativism vs. Pluralism and Objectivism

Journal of Philosophical Research 21:95-106 (1996)
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Relativism may take a coherent and self-consistent form, by replacing a bivalent logic with a many-valued logic; “incongruent” propositions may then be valid, that is, propositions that on a bivalent model but not now would be or would yield contradictories. I reject “relationalism,” any relativism in accord with which “true” means “true-for-x” (in accord with the usual reading of Plato’s Theaetetus). I show how epistemic pluralism is an analogue of the “is”/“appears” distinction and presupposes a form of objectivism, however attenuated. By “objectivism” I understand the thesis that what obtains independently in the world is cognitively accessible, is contextless and free of interpretation. The admitted indemonstrability of objectivism affects the force of pluralism and cannot disallow relativism. If objectivity is an artifact of inquiry, then relativism and pluralism can be reconciled



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Joseph Margolis
Last affiliation: Temple University

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