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Motivations for Relativism as a Solution to Disagreements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2013


There are five basic ways to resolve disagreements: keep arguing until capitulation, compromise, locate an ambiguity or contextual factors, accept Pyrrhonian skepticism, and adopt relativism. Relativism is perhaps the most radical and least popular solution to a disagreement, and its defenders generally think the best motivator for relativism is to be found in disputes over predicates of personal taste. I argue that taste predicates do not adequately motivate relativism over the other possible solutions, and argue that relativism looks like the most promising approach when disputants cannot even agree on the meta-evidence for a contested proposition.

Research Article
Copyright © The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2013 

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16 Op. cit. note 8, 17.

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18 Although there is also evidence that characteristic preferences are evolutionary spandrels related to information processing. See Ibid., 7.18–7.19.

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20 Ancestors of this paper were presented at the Institute of Philosophy in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London, the 6th Conference of the Spanish Society for Analytic Philosophy, and the University of Western Michigan. Many thanks for the constructive comments at those venues. Completion of this work has been granted by Spanish Government (Ministerio de Economía y Competividad), Research Projects FFI2008-01205. Puntos de Vista. Una Investigación Filosófica and FFI2011-24549. Puntos de vista y estructuras temporales.