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  • Cited by 13
  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: October 2010

Relativism and Classical Logic


Let me begin with a reminder of the crude but intuitive distinction from which the relativistic impulse springs. Any of the following claims would be likely to find both supporters and dissenters:

That snails are delicious

That cockroaches are disgusting

That marital infidelity is alright provided nobody gets hurt

That a Pacific sunset trumps any Impressionist canvas

and perhaps

That Philosophy is pointless if it is not widely intelligible

That the belief that there is life elsewhere in the universe is Justified

That death is nothing to fear

Disputes about such claims may or may not involve quite strongly held convictions and attitudes. Sometimes they may be tractable disputes: there may be some other matter about which one of the disputing parties is mistaken or ignorant, where such a mistake or ignorance can perhaps be easily remedied, with the result of a change of heart about the original claim; or there may be a type of experience of which one of the disputing parties is innocent, and such that the effect of initiation into that experience is, once again, a change of view. But there seems no reason why that should have to be the way of it. The dispute might persist even though there seemed to be nothing else relevant to it about which either party was ignorant or mistaken, nor any range of relevant experience which either was missing. The details of how that might happen vary with the examples.