A New Maneuver Against the Epistemic Relativist

J. Adam Carter, Emma Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On Certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic
reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we grant the very insights that lead Hacking to claim that epistemic reasons are always relative to a style of reasoning. Surprisingly, the key to defusing the argument is to be found in recent mainstream work on the epistemic state of objectual understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1683-1695
Number of pages11
JournalSynthese
Volume191
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • Understanding
  • Epistemic relativism
  • Epistemic reasons
  • Hacking
  • Wittgenstein

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