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Truth and Realism$
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Patrick Greenough and Michael P. Lynch

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199288878

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288878.001.0001

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What is Relativism?

What is Relativism?

Chapter:
(p.13) 1 What is Relativism?
Source:
Truth and Realism
Author(s):
Paul Boghossian
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199288878.003.0002

This chapter delves into the nature of relativism, focusing on the notion characterized by the following core idea: the relativist about a given domain, D, purports to have discovered that the truths of D involve an unexpected relation to a parameter. This idea lies at the heart of the most important and successful relativistic theses ever proposed. Thus, Galileo discovered that the truths about motion are unexpectedly relational in that the motion of an object is always relative to a variable frame of reference. And Einstein discovered that the truths about mass are unexpectedly relational in that the mass of an object is always relative to a variable frame of reference. The chapter develops a model for how such discoveries should be understood. It then considers to what extent that model gives us a purchase on the sorts of relativistic theses – about morality, for example, or epistemic justification – which have most interested philosophers.

Keywords:   relational truths, relativism, morality, epistemic justification

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