File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0002, message 11

Subject: BHA: RE: HELP on the way
Date: Tue, 15 Feb 2000 17:23:15 -0000


Have you looked at chapter 2 in Andrew Sayer's new book Realism and Social
Theory, Sage, 2000. It might help.




Dept of Behaviour in Organisations
Lancaster University Management School
Lancaster LA1 4YX
Tel:  01524 594040
Fax: 01524 594060


> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Ruth Groff []
> Sent:	Tuesday, February 15, 2000 5:09 PM
> To:
> Subject:	BHA: HELP!!  (plus: Yay Gary!)
> Hi all,
> First of all: Yay to Gary!  I assume that's Doctor Gary now!
> Congratulations.
> Now what?
> Second of all, I need help with a basic epistemology/philosophy of science
> question -- I'm hoping that any or all of you philosopher types out there
> will take pity on me and respond.  Here's the background:  I've been trying
> to clarify for myself just what it is that relativism is a theory of.
> (Sorry about the syntax there...)  This lead me to distinguish between
> relativism about truth, relativism about knowledge and relativism about
> justification/theory preference criteria.  My question has to do with the
> third category, relativism about justification.
> So here it is.  How do those who do so get from a claim that: 
> (i) historically and/or cross-culturally one sees a plurality of
> validity-criteria employed for the adjudication of competing accounts, and
> that some or all of these principles may conflict with some or all of the
> others, 
> to a claim that:
> (ii) all such criteria for deciding between competing accounts are equally
> sound?
> This seems to be the core of Kuhn's incommensurability thesis, but I don't
> understand how it follows.  
> The only way I can see to get from (i) to (ii) is via some sort of consensus
> theory of truth, according to which what it *MEANS* for <x> to be true is
> that some identifiable group of people agree with <x>.  Then you could say
> that any principle of justification/theory choice that is agreed to is, by
> definition, true.  Otherwise all you can do, it seems to me, is say that
> there is no way to *assess* the relative soundness of competing principles
> of justification.  But this doesn't get you to (ii).
> [There are two things to say about the consensus-theory-of-truth move,
> though.  
> One, it seems ultimately question-begging, because then you would then want
> to know what those people's *reasons* are, for agreeing to the principles of
> agreement (i.e., the validity-criteria) that they have agreed to.  
> Two, it worth noting that it relies on a non-relativist approach to the
> concept of truth, i.e., on the view that there is a theory of truth (viz.,
> the consensus theory) that is preferable to other theories (e.g.,
> correspondence, deflationary, coherence, etc.).  Such a stance is not that
> same as that of relativism about the concept of truth, according to which
> all competing theories of truth would be equally viable.]
> So can anyone help with this?  How do they actually make the case?  And who
> are the "they"s in question?
> In distress,
> Ruth 
>      --- from list ---

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