Fear of Knowledge

Fear of Knowledge : Against Relativism and Constructivism

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The academic world has been plagued in recent years by scepticism about truth and knowledge. Paul Boghossian, in his long-awaited first book, sweeps away relativist claims that there is no such thing as objective truth or knowledge, but only truth or knowledge from a particular perspective. He demonstrates clearly that such claims don't even make sense. Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed - one as a thesis about truth and two about justification. And he rejects all three. The intuitive, common-sense view is that there is a way things are that is independent of human opinion, and that we are capable of arriving at belief about how things are that is objectively reasonable, binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence regardless of their social or cultural perspective. Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that recent philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them. This short, lucid, witty book shows that philosophy provides rock-solid support for common sense against the relativists; it will prove provocative reading throughout the discipline and beyond.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 160 pages
  • 132.08 x 198.12 x 10.16mm | 181.44g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Clarendon Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0199230412
  • 9780199230419
  • 94,380

Review quote

If only Boghossian's eminently reasonable book were required reading for every freshman considering entrance into the humanities... Ars Disputandi ...lucid and effective ... Times Literary Supplement This is a great book for a seminar or discussion group. And its about time that someone wrote it. Happily, it was someone with Boghossians clarity, verve, and panache. Graham Priest, Review of Metaphysics ...this is an important book that should be widely read. Philosophers' Magazine This is a book that can be read in an afternoon and thought about for a lifetime. Wall Street Journal ...a tour de force: subtle and originalbut accessible enough to be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. Wall Street Journal In both subject matter and execution, this book promises to become a small classic of philosophical analysis. Choice For all its sophistication and erudition, the writing is remarkably clear, free of specialized jargon, and accessible to nonspecialist readers. Choice ...the book does a fine job of assessing in brief compass the sort of relativism/constructivism advocated by Rorty and his fellow travelers, and Boghossian's sophisticated and careful arguments against that Rortian view are often ingenious and invariably telling. Harvey Siegel, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 25/07/07 Boghossian has written an excellent book ... it contains relentless exposures of confusion, falsehood, and incoherence. John R. Searle, New York Review of Booksshow more

Table of contents

1. Introduction ; 2. The Social Construction of Knowledge ; 3. Constructing the Facts ; 4. Relativizing the Facts ; 5. Epistemic Relativism Defended ; 6. Epistemic Relativism Rejected ; 7. The Paradox Resolved ; 8. Epistemic Reasons and the Explanation of Belief ; Epilogueshow more