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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for Academic debates about pluralism and truth have become increasingly polarized in recent years.
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Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Truth in Context by Michael P. A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for Academic debates about pluralism and truth have become increasingly polarized in recent years. One side embraces extreme relativism, deeming any talk of objective truth as philosophically naive.

The opposition, frequently arguing that any sort of relativism leads to nihilism, insists on an objective notion of truth according to w A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for Academic debates about pluralism and truth have become increasingly polarized in recent years. The opposition, frequently arguing that any sort of relativism leads to nihilism, insists on an objective notion of truth according to which there is only one true story of the world. Both sides agree that there is no middle path.

In Truth in Context , Michael Lynch argues that there is a middle path, one where metaphysical pluralism is consistent with a robust realism about truth. Drawing on the work of Hilary Putnam, W. Quine, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others, Lynch develops an original version of metaphysical pluralism, which he calls relativistic Kantianism. He argues that one can take facts and propositions as relative without implying that our ordinary concept of truth is a relative, epistemic, or "soft" concept.

The truths may be relative, but our concept of truth need not be. Get A Copy.

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Truth, Absolutism, & Relativism (Simon Blackburn)

Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 04, Nat rated it really liked it. This is a strange but intriguing little book. Briefly, a worry about Lynch's view: Lynch wants to distinguish his pluralist view, which involves the This is a strange but intriguing little book. Briefly, a worry about Lynch's view: Lynch wants to distinguish his pluralist view, which involves the claim that all propositions and facts are relative to conceptual schemes, from relativism about truth.

In this sense, it is possible to say that norms are necessary possibilities.

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It is true that norms are freely established by human beings, and that nothing in the world can compel us to undertake a certain behaviour or to speak in a certain way. This is a point that Rorty never tired of highlighting. First of all, it is important to note that the resistance we have experience of is always part of a practice. A practice is a normatively articulated whole. It establishes its own conditions of possibility, and is consequently defined by the normative constraints it acknowledges as its legitimate bounds of validity.

Every practice displays an internal normativity which is structured around the relation between a set of means and the end that they claim to achieve Frega Stated in other terms, every practice provides the conditions of possibility of the usability of the concepts through which the agent attempts to reach that particular end which defines of the practice in which they are involved. The relation between concepts and practices is homologous to that between focus and horizon. Every concept is significant only within a practice, since it is only in the context of a practice that concepts become truly effective.

At the same time, practices are made concrete only when concepts are used to control and change the existing situations.


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Otherwise, a practice is only a scheme of possible actions. On the one hand, resistance can be said to have a normative content because it is only in the light of the relation between means and ends that it becomes possible to determine what counts as a significant resistance, and to establish what is objective within a particular practice. It is simply meant to refer to the fact that the possibilities which things afford are determinate.


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If you want to break a glass, the trait to which you have to pay attention is the hardness of the object you are looking at. If the thing is hard enough — say, a stone — it affords the possibility of performing the desired action. By contrast, if it is not hard enough, you are faced with its uselessness. In both cases, you cannot overcome the resistance of the object, that is, the determinacy of that which it affords.

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Truth in Context: An Essay on Pluralism and Objectivity

However, the object affords a resistance only because there is an underlying norm stating that a particular quality of the thing under consideration is a hindrance or a resource to the achievement of the goal that is constitutive of the practice at stake. The adoption of a reflective stance is a possibility always available to a rational agent. In doing so, the determinacy of that which certain things afford is transferred to another level, and becomes the subject-matter of a higher-level practice.

The relation between the two levels is a normative relation because the higher-level practice is subject to the authority of the kind of resistance that it has to account for. Consequently, resistance is normatively binding for the concepts through which the agent attempts to understand it. Whilst not completely unrelated, I think that it is important to keep the two senses separate in order to preserve the autonomy of the various practices in which human beings can be involved.

This conclusion follows directly from the pragmatist principle that the validity of a judgement depends upon the kind of use that we want to make of it. The desired result is the reconstruction of a harmonic transaction between the organism and its environment, and such reconstructed harmony is the only legitimate conclusion of the practice.

Were it not so, it would be impossible to tell successes from failures. If one simply decides to stop doing something, their decision to quit the activity does not and cannot count as an achievement of the desired result, even if the practice ends with that very decision and even if the agent can rest content with that decision.

The conditions that define the success of an activity are completely independent of the will of the agent. It is the practice that establishes its own conditions of satisfaction. Every practice is autonomous in the Kantian sense of establishing the norms that hold for itself. First of all, they highlight the fact that the thesis of the relativity of objectivity to practice is to be taken in its strongest sense if we want to preserve the genuineness of the insight that is at the heart of the pragmatist tradition — that is, the Kantian idea that objectivity is in some way dependent upon the standpoint of a certain subject.

This is because a weaker formulation of that idea ends up denying the theoretical fertility of the constructivist option, thus opening the door to the reinstatement of some form of metaphysical realism. This is a point that deserves some attention. A weak version of the principle of the relativity of objectivity to practice can be formulated as follows.