Relativism in Contemporary American Philosophy

Relativism in Contemporary American Philosophy : MacIntyre, Putnam, and Rorty

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Relativism about knowledge or truth has always provoked the ire of philosophers. Ever since Protagoras declared in antiquity that "man is the measure of all things", relativism has been repeatedly attacked. Recently, however, Alasdair MacIntyre has observed that "relativism . is one of those doctrines that have by now been refuted a number of times too often." Along with MacIntyre, Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty have also argued that while relativism may be problematic, there are valuable insights in it that philosophers need to take notice of. This book sorts out exactly what those relativistic insights are, and where they are to be found within the works of these three leading late-twentieth-century American philosophers. Timothy Mosteller begins with a review of the major traditional definitions of relativism and the classical arguments against it. He then examines twentieth-century accounts and defenses of relativism and points out that each account faces problems similar to those of the traditional versions.
The book continues with substantial treatments of the views of MacIntyre, Putnam and Rorty on relativism, with each thinker robustly engaging the opinions of the others.Mosteller concludes the book by developing an alternative approach to relativism about knowledge, which recognizes that while there may be no single 'global' criterion for all knowledge claims, there can be 'local' standards for settling particular disputes in such a way as to avoid the traditional hazards of relativism.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 12.7mm | 294.84g
  • Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0826418910
  • 9780826418913
  • 2,361,997

Table of contents

1. Epistemological Relativism (ER) Articulated
2. Recent Attempts to Generate a Non-problematic ER
3. Relativistic Tensions in MacIntyre's Epistemology
4. Relativistic Tensions in Putnam's Epistemology
5. Relativistic Tensions in Rorty's Epistemology
6. Towards an ER-free Epistemology
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Review quote

'Timothy Mosteller both addresses the issue of relativism - a basic issue in epistemology - and endeavors to sort out the morass of discussions of the issue by the three prominent contemporary philosophers, Alasdair MacIntyre, Hilary Putnam, and Richard Rorty ... Mosteller's [work] takes on a hermeneutical task of immense ambition, as well as an analytical task central to epistemology ... It sheds new light on epistemological relativism ... It both clarifies the role (or non-role) of relativism in the work of those three philosophers, and contributes to the overall understanding and assessment of their broader philosophical contributions.' Harvey Siegel, Professor of Philosophy, University of Miami * Blurb from reviewer *
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About Dr. Timothy M. Mosteller

Timothy M. Mosteller is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at California Baptist University, USA.
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