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Relativism (Central Problems of Philosophy) Paperback – 30 Sep 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (30 Sept. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1902683374
  • ISBN-13: 978-1902683379
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,590,890 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"A well-articulated introduction and survey to the literature while also engaging the sophisticate with well-informed and contentious positions on current debates ... a splendid and illuminating balancing act." - Gnosis "This lucid, rigorous, judicious study is to be recommended to those postmodern theorists for whom Quine is a cure for malaria." - Terry Eagleton, University of Manchester

About the Author

Paul O'Grady is Lecturer in Philosophy and Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.

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Format: Paperback
In 'Relativism', Paul O'Grady provides a nuanced introductory discussion of the concept in question. He concentrates on cognitive relativism, leaving moral relativism to be considered separately.

The book identifies several different forms of relativism and considers them separately: relativism about truth; about logic; about ontology; about epistemology; and about rationality itself. Adopting an undogmatic position, and drawing on the arguments of a host of recent philosophers, among them Wittgenstein, Rorty, Putnam, Quine and Davidson, O'Grady seeks to show which forms of relativism are productive and which are improbable or even self-refuting.

In his conclusion, he notes that the facile relativism that one encounters in public life - the conviction that there is no such thing as a universal truth but only 'true for me' and 'true for you' - is paralleled in the academy by a more philosophically sophisticated relativism that deserves to be taken seriously because it is both pervasive, particularly in humanities departments, and damaging to intellectual integrity. Refusing to endorse whole-heartedly the reactionary stance of such as Allan Bloom, O'Grady opts for a rational and defensible moderate relativism in which "universalism about truth and rationality" allows a degree of "relativism in ontology and epistemology" without falling all the way into cognitive nihilism.

This is an excellent introduction to the subject: concise, systematic, and clearly written. It assumes on the part of the reader a certain familiarity with common philosophical terms or a willingness to acquire it. Highly recommended for the intelligent general reader, or the undergraduate-level student seeking to understand the scope of the topic.
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