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Relativism and our warrant for scientific theories

Faulkner, P. (2004) Relativism and our warrant for scientific theories. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 12 (3). pp. 259-269. ISSN 1466-4542


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We depend upon the community for justified belief in scientific theory. This dependence can suggest that our individual belief in scientific theory is justified because the community believes it to be justified. This idea is at the heart of an anti-realist epistemology according to which there are no facts about justification that transcend a community's judgement thereof. Ultimately, knowledge and justified belief are simply social statuses. When conjoined with the lemma that communities can differ in what they accept as justified, epistemological anti-realism entails epistemological relativism. Further, this lemma can also be used to generate an argument for relativism and, thereby, for anti-realism. So if an epistemologically realist account of our justification for belief in scientific theory is to be given, then it must be possible, first, to defend a realist interpretation of the idea that individual belief can be community-justified and second, to defend it in a way that is compatible with the fact of possible community diversity. This paper tries to meet these challenges.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Copyright © 2004 Taylor & Francis Ltd. This is an author produced version of a paper published in International Journal of Philosophical Studies. This paper has been peer-reviewed but does not include the final publisher proof-corrections or journal pagination.
Keywords: epistemology, justification, relativism, realism, anti-realism, science
Institution: The University of Sheffield
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Department of Philosophy (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2005
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2014 04:07
Published Version: http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk/openurl.asp?genr...
Status: Published
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1080/0967255042000243948
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/687

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