Absolutism, relativism and metaepistemology

Carter, J. A. and McKenna, R. (2021) Absolutism, relativism and metaepistemology. Erkenntnis, 86(5), pp. 1139-1159. (doi: 10.1007/s10670-019-00147-w)

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Abstract

This paper is about two topics: metaepistemological absolutism and the epistemic principles governing perceptual warrant. Our aim is to highlight—by taking the debate between dogmatists and conservativists about perceptual warrant as a case study—a surprising and hitherto unnoticed problem with metaepistemological absolutism, at least as it has been influentially defended by Paul Boghossian (Fear of knowledge: against relativism and constructivism, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006a) as the principal metaepistemological contrast point to relativism. What we find is that the metaepistemological commitments at play on both sides of this dogmatism/conservativism debate do not line up with epistemic relativism nor do they line up with absolutism, at least as Boghossian articulates this position. What this case study reveals is the need in metaepistemological option space for the recognition of a weaker and less tendentious form of absolutism, what we call “environment relativism”. On this view, epistemic principles are knowable, objective, and they can serve as the basis of particular epistemic evaluations, but their validity is relative to the wider global environment in which they are applied.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:McKenna’s research on this paper was assisted by funding from the ERC Advanced Grant Project “The Emergence of Relativism” (Grant No. 339382).
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Carter, Dr J Adam
Authors: Carter, J. A., and McKenna, R.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Erkenntnis
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:0165-0106
ISSN (Online):1572-8420
Published Online:09 August 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Erkenntnis 86(5): 1139-1159
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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