Scepticism, relativism and the argument from the criterion

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):182-190 (2012)
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Abstract

This article explores the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. It is argued that a fundamental argument for contemporary epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. Pyrrhonian scepticism is compared and contrasted with Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Humean scepticism about induction. Epistemic relativism is characterized as relativism due to the variation of epistemic norms, and is contrasted with other forms of cognitive relativism, such as truth relativism, conceptual relativism and ontological relativism. An argument from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion to epistemic relativism is presented, and is contrasted with three other arguments for epistemic relativism. It is argued that the argument from the criterion is the most fundamental argument for epistemic relativism. Finally, it is noted how the argument of the present paper fits with the author’s previous suggestion that a particularist response to the Pyrrhonian sceptic may be combined with a naturalistic view of epistemic warrant to meet the challenge of epistemic relativism.

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Howard Sankey
University of Melbourne

Citations of this work

Epistemic relativism, scepticism, pluralism.Martin Kusch - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4687-4703.
Fallibilism versus Relativism in the Philosophy of Science.David J. Stump - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (2):187-199.
How the epistemic relativist may use the sceptic’s strategy: A reply to Markus Seidel.Howard Sankey - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):140-144.

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References found in this work

Realism and truth.Michael Devitt - 1984 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
On the Very Idea of a Conceptual Scheme.Donald Davidson - 1973 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 47:5-20.
Contextualism and knowledge attributions.Keith DeRose - 1992 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 52 (4):913-929.
Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Imre Lakatos - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press. pp. 91-196.

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