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Fear of Knowledge, Against Relativism and Constructivism – By Paul Boghossian . Article (PDF Available) in dialectica 63(3) · September with 1, Reads. Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism. Paul Boghossian. Abstract. Relativist and constructivist conceptions of knowledge have become. : Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism ( ): Paul Boghossian: Books.

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Now in paperback–“One of the most readable works in philosophy in recent years” Wall Street Journal –a compact, devastating attack on relativism and constructivism.

If the relativist insists that that’s not required, then the regress doesn’t mean that the truth of relativism makes it impossible to grasp the content of any claims. Added to PP index Total downloads 38of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 2of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

But it is hard to see how we might coherently voghossian this advice.

It begins by noticing that norm-circular justifications are not all alike. I really liked this book for its efficiency.

Boghossian disposes of each of these in turn. Essentialism in this vein reinscribes and traps people within the same categories from which reason promises escape. I’m more sympathetic to the views boghosisan Quine and Duhem than I am to those of Rorty and Putnam, and so I’m suspicious of my feeling that his critique of the former is somehow weaker than his critique of the latter.

Fear of Knowledge

Probably one of the best books which I’ve read, which questions the perspective that truth and knowledge are relative. Boghossian considers “the traditional argument” 52 according to which it is untenable because incoherent, boghossisn finds that argument wanting; he offers another kmowledge in its place.

While The Blank Slate is one of the most interesting books I have ever read this book will be forgotten by me in a months time. There are several facets to anti-realist argument: US Higher Education Not for profit. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. May 09, Adam Omelianchuk rated it it was amazing.


The result is one of the most readable works in philosophy in recent years. In Chapter 7 ” The Paradox Resolved ” Boghossian addresses the ‘paradox’ constituted knowldege the “seemingly compelling argument, based on the inevitable norm-circularity of justifications of our epistemic systems, for a form of relativism about epistemic judgments” in Chapter 5, coupled with our having seen in Chapter 6 “that such a relativism is riddled with seemingly insuperable problems.

Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that recent philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them. After pointing out the radical counter-intuitiveness of the doctrine exemplified by Bruno Latour’s denial that anyone could have died of tuberculosis before Koch discovered the bacillus in knowoedgeBoghossian turns in Chapter 3 to the accounts of fact-constructivism developed by Rorty, Nelson Goodman and Hilary Putnam, according to which “we construct a fact by accepting a way of talking or thinking which describes that fact.

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Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism

In a relatively few pages he dispatches the strong constructivism according to which epistemic reasons make no contribution to the causal explanation of any of our beliefs alleged to follow from the symmetry principles of “the sociology of scientific knowledge” SSKand the weak constructivism according to which epistemic fo can make some contribution to such explanation, but contingent social needs and interests must also be invoked flowing from Kuhnian and Duhemian underdetermination.

Does it capture Rorty’s version? University Press Scholarship Online. Print edition must be purchased new and sold by Amazon. When he speaks of dinosaurs antedating our constructions of them, he helps boghsosian to the very construction he says commits one to backward causation.

Start reading Fear of Knowledge: Explore the Home Gift Guide. He also assumes that our beliefs are either true or false. His common sense approach is accessible enough for researchers to question themselves and struggle with the pi I encourage any dissertation mentees to read this who plan to use social construction as a theoretical framework. If there is no concept for the term, then one cannot meaningfully speak about it.


The apparently “seductively powerful argument” in support of epistemic relativism can now be stated. Sounds like the sort of silliness that can give you an acute headache. This makes the case that absolute objective truth is something that can be clearly defined, only there is a clear problem of relativism casting fog over that definition which has not succesfully be There goghossian a solid point to be made from examining fact constructivism and Boghossian’s classic model of knowledge, which is they are both incomplete.

Copernicanism is justified absolutely by the available evidence e. Reflections on Chapter 6 of Fear of Bogbossian. In Chapter 1 Boghossian begins laying out the target views, lamenting their wide embrace in the contemporary postmodern intellectual climate: Yet, these thinkers along with Boghossian’s other whipping boy, Richard Rorty, who I can only guess is included as a rhetorical straw man are not typical po-mo targets.

And he rejects all three. Learn more about Amazon Prime. But it should be if that they have been familiar in the literature for boghossixn time; it is unfortunate that he discusses neither the highly similar arguments penned by others nor Goodman’s and Putnam’s responses to them. Boghossian says knodledge shows that constructivism violates the law of non-contradiction: Skip to main content.

May 18, Dan rated it it was amazing. Rather, propositions are only true because we construct them — and their truth. While it is not inevitable, it is “very likely” that each system of principles would “decide in favor of themselves and against the other practice.

Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism – Oxford Scholarship

It’s clear, and really pretty fair. He says that these 3 defects decisively count against the coherence of constructivism. For discussion, see my Rationality Redeemed?: Richard Rorty’s postmodern pragmatism.