This chapter draws out the philosophical implications of the previous studies in relation to four problems in particular, objectivity, truth, realism and relativism, and incommensurability. A measure of objectivity is attainable provided that (as Chapter 2 argued) our conceptual systems are revisable. While we can never attain total, theory-free, objectivity, that does not mean that all judgements are arbitrarily subjective. Neither a correspondence nor a coherence theory of truth is satisfactory: but we do not need a single overarching model of truth, good for all contexts. Rather we should focus on the contexts in which truth-telling and warranting are important (in evaluating witnesses for instance). Neither realism nor relativism is a single well-defined position and we should resist any idea that we have to choose between them. The multidimensionality of the phenomena and plural styles of inquiry enable features associated with both positions to be combined. Finally on incommensurability: it is undeniably the case that major shifts in the senses and references of key terms have occurred during theory change. But that does not mean that no communication is possible across paradigms. Rather the puzzles that conflicting views on being, humanity, and understanding generate should serve as a stimulus to learn from others, with implications for how we should live, particularly in the matter of how we should understand one another.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.