Talk:Relativism

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Can someone explain criticism #6 to me?[edit]

This is taken from the criticisms section of the article:

6. Since logic is inherently constant, and that some things are more true than others, it means that "strong" relativism cannot hold true under many conditions. Relativism often ignores how views have different weight to another. An example of a similar phenomenon is the Gay Marriage debate in the U.S. - an example where the majority dictates the rights of the entirety even when it doesn't apply to them, as they do not weigh up the effects of their views.

Can someone explain what exactly this means? I do not follow the first half of the paragraph (the one that actually pertains to relativism), and the example reads as complete nonsense to me, especially this part:

"...the majority dictates the rights of the entirety even when it doesn't apply to them, as they do not weigh up the effects of their views."

I do not think that: a) The majority in question believes that "it" doesn't apply to them. (Though I'm not sure what "it" is in this context, so the sentence may be true.) The majority believes that allowing gay marriage would undermine the moral standards of their society, which, of course, applies to everybody in that society. b) The majority in question does not "weigh up the effects of its views". Its views are that gay marriage should not be allowed, for the benefit of society; it is aware of the effects; and does not object to them. Tullie 23:44, 14 December 2006 (UTC)

Since I've received no response here as yet, I'm going to go ahead and remove Criticism #6, as it is detracting from the overall quality of the article, IMO. Tullie 23:45, 15 December 2006 (UTC)

From the text example, it would appear that it implies a majority, who are not heavily committed on an issue (gay marriage in the example) forcing their opinions on a minority to who it is a highly significant issue. To the majority, granting the issue is more or less trivial and cost free, but forces a significant violation of conscience onto the minority. 62.196.17.197 (talk) 15:00, 17 January 2014 (UTC)

Criticism #5[edit]

This criticism is also nonsensical. I've added italics to the below citation:

5. Moral Relativism, in particular, in its more pure forms, often defies logic and acts in ignorance of possible truths. With any given action, it (what is "it"?) has the ability to inflict positive and negative states on other sentient beings, meaning it's impossible for relativism to be "the" law as even with hundreds of factors there is still usually an overall positive or negative outcome, and thus "wrong" would be attempting to seek more negative states than positive ones (why would "wrong" be this? Where does relativist theory claim this?), possibly for personal gain. Moral Relativism either ignores this or seeks to overwrite it. Because certain things, such as logic, do exist and are constant, it is difficult for relativism to hold true in all scenarios.

I may be misunderstanding something, but the argument makes no sense. I'm going to remove it, unless anyone sees any reason why it should stay. Tullie 16:23, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

It makes no sense. But nor does anything written about "relativism." The article and discussion pages are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of "postmodern" philosophers like Foucault and Baudrillard, none which is a "relativist." —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 212.73.175.238 (talk) 00:57, 5 April 2007 (UTC).
They are widely considered relativist in aspects of their thought. Do you own the rights to attribution of something as relativist or non? Probably not. But of course they don't subscribe to what people commonly regard as the "dirty relativism" or pure sophistry. This is discussed at length in the book "Scandalous Knowledge" -- how even relativists try to hedge their theories in order to distance themselves from dirty relativism which no serious thinkers ever subscribed to, who are lambasted as subscribing to such for example in the Fashionable Nonesense and similar works of intellectual dishonesty where quotes are cherry picked and the authors run rampant with their own extrapolations based on either incomplete or ideologically motivated readings. DivisionByZer0 (talk) 07:55, 19 May 2009 (UTC) :)

Another #5 ripe for deletion[edit]

5 Regarding the seeming apparent contradiction between the absoluteness of "all is relative", consider that the absolute can, in theory, only exist in whole (monism) only if everything within (relative to) that whole is relative to everything else (also relative to that whole)--"absolute relativity".<<confuses metaphysics with epistemology>> A visual representation of this could be a number of points all connected to each other.[1] <<editor's own page>>However, this can lead to a sort of "fractal absolute relativity" in which, simply by zooming in or out on the "contained absolute relativity" can result in nested absolute relativities[2]<<editor's own page>>--and can also be represented by enclosing a circle ( ) with a larger square touching the circle's outsides [( )], then enclosing the square with a larger circle touching the square's corners ([( )]), and so on infinitely. The contradiction of "absolute relativity" appears and disappears relative to the extent at which the concept is understood (related to). -1Z 01:57, 27 February 2007 (UTC)

How did I "confuse metaphysics with epistemology", Peter? Yes, I use links to IMAGES to illustrate what I am describing--so what? Regardless, as support, I just read up on dialectical monism which appears to explain how "all is relative" can "work".
-Eep² 13:27, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
How did I "confuse metaphysics with epistemology"
e.g "only EXIST" in whole
"I use links to IMAGES"
images on your own page.
dialectical monism is, again, metaphysics.
-1Z 15:38, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
Again, so what if I link to images on my page? Dialectical monism is an ontological philosophy. Relativism is a philosophy that includes epistemology AND metaphysics.
-Eep² 15:58, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
References to an editor's own page are not considered verification of a claim. So the claim is unverified. Relativism as discussed in the article is an epistemological claim.
-1Z 01:39, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Again, I don't use my webpage as VERIFICATION of a claim but, merely, as VISUAL examples of what I am referring to. And, again, so what if relativism is discussed epistemologically? What is your point of pointing that out?
-Eep² 00:15, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Question to Eep: What is the difference between your "absolute relativity" and a simple complete graph? If it is just a complete graph then (1) there is really nothing new to say about it and (2) what does it have to do with the world? Are you saying that there is a relation in the world such that every object has it to itself and to everything else? What relation would that be? Your paragraph (and your web page) reads like hobby philosophy in desperate need of an actual philosophy book.
-Kronocide 13:43, 2 March 2007 (UTC)
A simple complete graph is one example of absolute relativity, which I state in the criticism rebuttal (and on my webpage). However, absolute relativity can be represented in many ways, of which circular infinity is one aspect of. The relation is that everything is interconnected which is, you're right, nothing really new and yet most people seem to overlook this very basic, simple idea... I won't even bother replying to your ad hominem...
-Eep² 10:17, 5 March 2007 (UTC)
But to say that everything is connected is just to say that there is a relation, I'm wondering what that relation is. What is it that connects everything to everything else (and itself!)? If you can't say what the relation is that the complete graph illustrates, then what does it have to do with reality?
Kronocide 01:26, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The relation, as I see it, is also relative. ;) Combine all relationships and you obtain the "absolute relation" (hence, "absolute relativity"). As soon as I do that I'll let you know, 'kay? As far as having to do with reality, well, reality is only part of the relationship, obviously. Fantasy, like any dualistic counterpart, is just as important as reality. This "absolute relationship" won't be entirely understood with logic, since logic is one part of its dualistic counterpart: illogic (absurdity, nonsense, etc). Basically, this means that the "absolute relationship" most likely will and will not be a paradox/contradiction/oxymoron/catch-22/whatever at and not at the same time. Yes, it's confusing and, yes, it also makes sense--that, as I see it, is the only way it "works" but, of course, it depends how you look at it.
-Eep² 07:29, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
Interestingly what people fail to realize is that if you read say or hinduist buddhist philosophy you find these kinds of "true contradictions" all the time and it wasn't a deep problem for them, and they seemed to grasp them or accept them more readily than we did, as they had more than two truth values. To say that what they were doing with their non-classical logics wasn't philosophy as the reviewer would seem to believe is simply a deeply ingrained western bias. DivisionByZer0 (talk) 08:05, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
That's pretty much what I thought. ;-) Kronocide 16:29, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Things that "cannot be understood with logic" have no place on philosophy pages. 1Z 16:11, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
It is a personal bias to think that discussion that does not conform to the rules of aristotelian logic are not a part of philosophy. Indeed, aristotle himself was begging the question in his proof of the law of non-contradiction. See for example research on paraconsistent logics, dialethic logics, and other non-classical logics to see that there are alternatives to classical A logic. DivisionByZer0 (talk) 07:58, 19 May 2009 (UTC)
Again, it CAN be partially understood logically but, logically, it must include the opposite of logic, illogic, in order to be complete. There is a philosophy where a more illogicality applies: absurdism. -Eep² 17:56, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
If it belongs under absurdism, move it there. 1Z 18:14, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
It does belong there but it also belongs here. Learn to think relatively... -Eep² 03:50, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
It doesn't belong anywhere in Wikipedia, since it's not accepted theory. Kronocide 13:49, 14 March 2007 (UTC)
Dude, it's a freakin' RESPONSE to a CRITICISM of relativism. Get over your ego, please... -Eep² 08:37, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
It has no bearing on relativism as discussed in the rest of the article. It just uses similar words.1Z 12:56, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
Yes it does, Peter. Again, it is a RESPONSE to a CRITICISM OF the article. Duh. Quit being a wiktator. -Eep² 03:12, 23 March 2007 (UTC)
Eep, whether you like it or not Wikipedia is for generally accepted knowledge, not for personal theories that no one else has heard of. This is completely regardless of how good that theory is. So, please do not enter your personal theories about relativism into the article.

Margolis[edit]

"he maintains that a relativistic, many valued logic just might be the most apt for the artworld or history since"

Since when has "many-valued logic" been the same thing as relativism? I mean, the guy might have a perfectly good argument but it needs to be given. It is not standard or obvious.

"relationalism, the doctrine of true-for l or true for k, and the like, where l and k are different speakers or different world, or the like. "

That is what everybody else calls relativism.

'For Margolis "true" means true.'

Then he is not a relativist in the sense used in the rest of the article. Which at least needs to be made explicit.

1Z 19:08, 16 March 2007 (UTC)

Re-think[edit]

This page has nothing to do with philosophy. This page, like Relativism, is absolute bunk. Nobody calls himself a relativist. Relativist and relativism are labels created by the religious right. They are used as derogatory slurs.

These people call themselves relativists.

[3]

[4]

1Z 22:54, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

You can put -ism after any word. Doesn't mean anything.

Everybody who doesn't believe the world is flat, which we once knew it was, is a "relativist." Everything but religion is "relativist."

Nietzsche, Foucault and the other philosophers the Christian right calls relativists never called themselves that. I think we all know that the Christian right is addressing a much bigger issue.

I am being serious here. I fear for philosophy. We are fast entering la-la-land of Ayn Rand here. Then there will be nothing. Then there will be nothing but philosophy according to Fox News.

I changed the headline to be more neutral. Please do. But keep on debating.

Your comments look like a bunch of random, unsupported opinions to me. 1Z 15:58, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

This page really needs to be scrapped and re-written from the ground up by a good philosopher. It's an important topic, and one that people will probably want to access a lot...but the current treatment of it here simply isn't competent.

You say everybody but the religious are relativists. I think you're misunderstanding relativism. Practically everybody in the western world (and probably the whole of the world) believes in truth. We believe there is an independent truth of what actually happened. Just look at our criminal justice systems, where we try to find this truth.2nd Piston Honda 04:03, 5 October 2007 (UTC)

You say everybody but the religious are relativists.

I don't say that. 1Z (talk) 17:08, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

The Christian right don't call themselves "absolutists" either, yet that is what they are. --Nerd42 (talk) 19:51, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

  • That is absolutely absurd. The Christian right spans a broad spectrum of viewpoints. This appears as a simplistic stereotype of group based on their faith choice. It smacks of extreme prejudice. 172.56.10.54 (talk) 13:38, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

Responses section problem.[edit]

The following section is so confusing that I have read it ten times and still do not understand what it is saying. Can someone please explain what this section is trying to say? The paragraph itself seems nonsensical to me.

Responses Contradictions such as "all beliefs are equally worthless" are nonsensical, as they constitute arguing from the premise. Once you have said if the X is absolute (e.g. "all beliefs are equally worthless") you have presupposed relativism is false. And one cannot prove a statement using that statement as a premise. There is a contradiction, but the contradiction is between relativism and the presuppositions of absoluteness in the ordinary logic used. Nothing has been proven wrong and nothing has been proven in and of itself, only the known incompatibility has been restated inefficiently.

--Logiboy123 (talk) 21:43, 11 February 2008 (UTC)

An Anon IP keeps adding bad arguments.1Z (talk) 17:43, 25 April 2008 (UTC)

You are so obviously skewed in your own beliefs against relativism, that your lack of objectivity in this article borders on propaganda. This is most clear in your long list of links connecting to extremist, right-wing, Christian, American, "Scientists". I have never read an article on here that was so clearly about the author's agenda as your truly weak and subjective entry. Do those who value some semblance of a neutral assessment a favour and kindly remove your petty opinions from here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.67.89.141 (talk) 03:21, 4 January 2009 (UTC)

Requesting a breakdown[edit]

I have to admit that I'm having trouble reading the article, and understanding the most basic concepts of relativism. It's a subject that I am interested in, but have little pre-existing knowledge of. In my opinion, the article jumps right into a large mess of confusing concepts. I appreciate that there is so much detail and in-depth discussion of multiple views - the more information, the better - but... can someone knowledgeable put in some sort of practically worded definition? Or better yet, some basic, every-day type of examples near the beginning of the article, to familiarize a wider range of readers? *Vendetta* (whois talk edits) 07:23, 25 May 2008 (UTC)

Revision[edit]

I plan to revise the article as follows:

1) Shorten the lede, moving some material to new section

2) Expand "forms of relativism". Mention social constuctivism and and the Stong Programme

3) Add a section on Wittgenstein

4) Add a section on Setven Hales

5) Rewrite the section on Margolis.

6) restructure the 'advocates' section, separating out those whoe status as relativists is contentious (Rorty, Wittgenstein, Derrida).

7) Expand the "critics" section, adding David Hirsch, Paul Bhogossian, etc

8) inclduding moving the material on religion there

9) Restructure pro and con. Initial arguments for relativism need to be made. Human Universals as a counterargument to Descriptive Relativism needs to be mentioned. The political aspect of the debate needs to be mentioned.

10) Clarify the alternatives to relativism -- absolutism, objectivism, realism, etc.

11) Improve the level of citation.

This will all proceed quite gradually , for lack of time among other reasons

1Z (talk) 17:05, 1 July 2008 (UTC)

Is anyone a relativist?[edit]

"'Relativism' is the view that every belief on a certain topic, or perhaps about any topic, is as good as every other. No one holds this view. Except for the occasional cooperative freshman, one cannot find anybody who says that two incompatible opinions on an important topic are equally good. The philosophers who get called 'relativists' are those who say that the grounds for choosing between such opinions are less algorithmic than had been thought." -Richard Rorty, "Pragmatism, Relativism, and Irrationalism"

from here


Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in thy power. (Marcus Aurelius) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 211.29.233.5 (talk) 21:21, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Absolute relativism[edit]

Does the article make a strong/clear enough distinction between mild and extreme relativism? And it doesn't seem to emphasise sufficiently that the main objectors to relativism seem to be (a) scientists and (b) religious folks. The reasons for that might profitably be explored further. Maybe someone can comment? thanks Peter morrell 15:18, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

The article should make such a distinction. Rorty says relativism is the view that everything is as true as everything else, and that no-one believes in it. Stanley Fish says relativism is open-mindedness and tolerance, and that almost everyone believes in it.1Z (talk) 23:55, 1 August 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. Well, maybe these points can be added to the article along with the quotes you mention. Peter morrell 07:04, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm not sure there is any such distinction. I have heard people claim that moral relativism does not necessarily imply relativism as to physical facts. (They attempt to separate ethical questions from questions of physical fact) So, I guess you could argue that moral-only relativists are the soft kind and those who hold all truth to be relative as the hard kind ... but apart from that, the opposite philosophy (Absolutism) is "Yes or No" position. Relativism is "Maybe." I don't understand how you can have an extreme maybe! --Nerd42 (talk) 19:40, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Freemasonry[edit]

Regarding the Catholic Church and relativism, I noticed this atypical 1884 document called Humanum Genus which condemns both relativism and Freemasonry, and claims that both are closely tied together. [5] It's unclear what is the historical etymology for relativism, but 1884 is a fairly ancient date for this kind of word. Anyways, it would a good idea to further describe how Masonic ideology and philosophy are conductive of relativism. ADM (talk) 18:03, 15 March 2009 (UTC)

Undefined terms[edit]

"Alethic" should be removed from this article or a definition should be supplied -- I have never seen this term in philosophic writings. Wikipedia articles should be written so that they are accessible to non-experts who don't know all the jargon of this or that field. If the jargon of the field is used it should have an entry or it should be defined for the reader DivisionByZer0 (talk) 04:09, 19 May 2009 (UTC)

Not a good article (very bad, in fact)[edit]

This is in a really sorry state. It contains almost nothing but obscurities and nonsense. From the very beginning, it uses terminology that seems rather random, and does not reflect philosophical usage. It is full of refences to people who just aren't at all important, and contains loads of laudatory words praising certain authors and/or theories. It is full of passages like (just to give few examples):

"Two of the most prominent modern opponents of relativism are also adherents of differing forms of absolutism: Richard Dawkins and the Roman Catholic Church. Interestingly, they seem to lambast against each other as much as against relativism."

-What does this matter? Why should they not be against each other? etc...

"Another counter-argument[citation needed] uses Bertrand Russell's Paradox, which refers to the "List of all lists that do not contain themselves". Kurt Gödel, Jorge Luis Borges, and Jean Baudrillard have famously debated this paradox."

- Apparent nonsense again. It is impossible to figure out the supposed argument. This also suggests that Borges, Gödel and Baudrillard acutally had a discussion about it!(Funny idea, if you know anything about them, but utterly false.) Also, the paradox (in its standard form) is definitely stated wrong!

The list about such lousy passages could go on, for I find almost nothing good or informative about this. It should be complety rewritten from the start. Only qualified philosophical opinions should be discussed, and only qualified philosophers cited. SEP's article could be a guideline: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/ —Preceding unsigned comment added by Adamwodeham (talkcontribs) 02:20, 3 October 2009 (UTC)

SOFIXIT! Pick up that editing machete, and be bold! Fences&Windows 23:47, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
i agree, that`s not an article, it`s a disaster. fixed some small aspects so far, best regards --Jan eissfeldt (talk) 19:48, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

Biased against subject matter[edit]

The statement, "Another argument is that if relativism presupposes that "all beliefs are equally valid," it then implies that any belief system holding itself to be the only valid one is untrue, which is a contradiction" is a straw man relativism is more of a concept not an opinion, like say, math (1+1=2), or the statement, "In order for something to be living it must satisify the criteria required to be classified as such", a good analogy would be saying that the Chaos theory can't be true because it would say that the theory itself would be subject to the uncertainty, which is untrue since the theory only aplies to dynamic systems.Props888 (talk) 01:01, 26 April 2011 (UTC)

Suggest to include Wittgenstein under advocates[edit]

His work and influence in the fields of anthropology and linguistics I believe merit a section on Wittgenstein in this Wikipedia article. Don't have enough knowledge on the subject to make an addition, but I would suggest maybe information from his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus or Philosophical Investigations would be relevant to discussion. Shaded0 (talk) 05:28, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Absolute (philosophy)[edit]

The lede of this article defines relativism in contrast to the concept of 'absolute' {truth, validity, existence, etc.}. And rightly so. Why is it, then, that this is shaping up to be a commendable article, when the 'absolute' one is completely awful?

If I knew nothing about the subject, and wanted to quickly gain an appreciation for it, I might want to look up 'relative' and 'absolute' and read the ledes, to see what was broadly meant, without delving into the weeds of the various arguments. But I can't do that.

Curiously, this article is of high importance on your scale, but 'absolute' is of low importance. I understand that due to the subtleties underlying relativist arguments, they're inherently more interesting and probably more valid in many respects, but the belief in an 'absolute underlying something' as a naive metaphysical position is so ubiquitous that it surely merits proper explication in an encyclopaedia.

And no, I'm not prepared to do it, as I wasted far too much time on this project years ago, and was driven away by the loonies and vandals. But I know there're many good people for whom it's still a worthwhile hobby. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 87.112.23.99 (talk) 00:23, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

You're making some good points. Wikipedia is only supposed to be a compendium of the literature on each topic. Unfortunately, all professional literature is sadly deficient both in breadth and depth when it comes to relativism. BlueMist (talk) 14:46, 3 March 2014 (UTC)

Deficient Material and Subject Matter under "Relativism".[edit]

Where is the section here on philosophical and ontological theories about relativity??? Your section on the Theory of Relativity refers us to this site with the words:

"For philosophical or ontological theories about relativity, see Relativism."

Yet on this site there is no material whatsoever about the philosophical and ontological issues about relativity in physics e.g. the issue of an absolute reference frame.

Wikipedia is thus shamefully deficient here! — Preceding unsigned comment added by 58.7.52.82 (talk) 02:56, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

Reverted Criticisms[edit]

  • BlueMist(talk) you recently deleted several edits that had links under see also to various viewpoints associated with relativism and also links under criticism as POV. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Relativism&oldid=597962247 They are Wiki articles supported with ample references and are thus not POV. Did you look at the links before you deleted? It is proper to use links and a brief description in other articles. It is even encouraged. The links provide more details and all the needed references. It was not POV but supported by the linked articles. I hope this explains how referencing can and does work through associated articles. You are welcome to bring over all the references from linked articles but it is not necessary. I am concerned that you may not have been neutral in your POV. Maybe it is a simple misunderstanding. I added to a very deficient article from other wiki articles that oppose relativism under criticism. None of it was my original research or opinion but a brief from the articles I linked. You also removed them under see also. It appears you performed a quick revert without checking out the links. That happens way to much on wikipedia and hinders the development of articles and turns off others from editing. Please spend the time before reverting editing. If you do not have the time then leave it alone. Also consider challenging the edit and then things can get sorted out. Simple deleting is usually unconstructive. I hope this helps with future edits. 172.56.10.195 (talk) 16:11, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
  • As it happens, I have considerable expertise on the topic of philosophical relativism gained through years of research and academic interaction. I am familiar with both sides of this issue.
Can you say the same?
The Relativism article desperately needs a thorough, positive, explanatory rewrite. Unfortunately, I see your comments and even your links, regardless of their sources, only as purely negative and deconstructive. Your negative criticisms are clearly in violation of wikipedia's NPOV policies. BlueMist (talk) 23:44, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
  • Claims on wiki unless verified are just unsubstaniated claims so unless you are outing yourself it is just a brag. Any nut can claim anything on Wiki so claiming something means nothing as a 13 year old can claim to have a doctorate here. You may be someone special but it would be illogical for me to assume anything about you other than you claim to be an expert. I could tell you I am an academic with a background in logic and even through on an expert hat but it would be pointless unless I could substaniate that claim. I could be a hobbyist making grandeous claims to add authority to my arguments. 172.56.10.54 (talk) 04:13, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Well at least you acknowledge you were upset with their tone but somewhat reluctantly acknowledge they were sourced. But they were under criticism so what would someone expect, praise? It appears you have reinforced my question about protecting a viewpoint. 172.56.10.54 (talk) 04:22, 4 March 2014 (UTC)