Epistemic pluralism, epistemic relativism and ‘hinge’ epistemology

Carter, J. A. (2017) Epistemic pluralism, epistemic relativism and ‘hinge’ epistemology. In: Coliva, A. and Pedersen, N. J.L.L. (eds.) Epistemic Pluralism. Series: Palgrave innovations in philosophy. Palgrave, pp. 229-252. ISBN 9783319654591

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According to Paul Boghossian (2006, 73) a core tenet of epistemic relativism is what he calls epistemic pluralism, according to which (i) ‘there are many fundamentally different, genuinely alternative epistemic systems’, but (ii) ‘no facts by virtue of which one of these systems is more correct than any of the others’. Embracing the former claim is more or less uncontroversial–viz., a descriptive fact about epistemic diversity. The latter claim by contrast is very controversial. Interestingly, the Wittgenstenian ‘hinge’ epistemologist, in virtue of maintaining that rational evaluation is essentially local, will (arguably, at least) be committed to the more controversial leg of the epistemic pluralist thesis, simply in virtue of countenancing the descriptive leg. This paper does three central things. First, it is shown that this ‘relativistic’ reading of Wittgenstein’s epistemology is plausible only if the locality of rational evaluation (in conjunction with a reasonable appreciation of epistemic diversity) commits the Wittgenstenian to a further epistemic incommensurability thesis. Next, Duncan Pritchard’s (e.g., 2009; 2015) novel attempt to save the hinge epistemologist from a commitment to epistemic incommensurability is canvassed and critiqued. Finally, it is suggested how, regardless of whether Pritchard’s strategy is successful, there might be another very different way—drawing from recent work by John MacFarlane (2014)—for the hinge epistemologist to embrace epistemic pluralism while steering clear of epistemic relativism, understood in a very specific way.

Item Type:Book Sections
Additional Information:This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive, published, version of record is available here: www.palgrave.com/gb/book/9783319654591.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Dr J Adam
Authors: Carter, J. A.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 The Author
First Published:First published in Epistemic Pluralism: 229-252
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy
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