Skip to main content

'That may be true for you, but it's not true for me!'

According to the relativist, people who speak simply of what’s ‘true’ are naïve. ‘Whose truth?’ asks the relativist. ‘No claim is ever true, period. What’s true is always true for someone. It’s true relative to a particular person or culture. There’s no such thing as the absolute truth on any issue.
            This sort of relativism is certainly popular. For example, many claim that we ought never to condemn cultures with different moral points of view to our own. Differing moral perspectives are all equally valid. Similarly, some claim that while astrology and Feng Shui might be ‘false’ from a Western, scientific viewpoint, they are ‘true’ when viewed from alternative, New Age perspectives. What’s ‘true’ ultimately comes down to ones point of view.

Continues here at CFI blogs.


Paul P. Mealing said…
This book was my introduction to you. I read it in 2003 (I think it was) while I was recovering from a prostate operation. And I remember this specific issue.

Almost 20 years ago, when I was studying philosophy (as a mature-age student) I did a subject called 'Power and Knowledge' (stretching my memory, so may be wrong about the title) and it specifically dealt with the premise that all knowledge is relative to culture. I remember once sitting in the home of the lecturer, along with another student, arguing that science and mathematics are 'special' forms of knowledge in that they reveal objective truths.

He made the point that scientific knowledge is in a constant state of renewal or change (not his exact words), to which the other student commented that the logical conclusion to that was that the entire history of science could be false. To my surprise, the lecturer agreed with her.

In a written exam (though the topic was chosen beforehand), I challenged an essay the lecturer had authored regarding how Einstein's General Theory of Relativity had trumped Newton's theory of gravity. I can't remember the details, but I quoted Einstein's own words, effectively proving him wrong. To the lecturer's credit, he gave me a high distinction for my paper.

Regards, Paul.
= MJA said…
'Man is the measure of all things', and in there lies the flaw in us all.
Understanding the flaw of measure leads to the single absolute.
Be One,

Popular posts from this blog

What is Humanism?

What is Humanism? “Humanism” is a word that has had and continues to have a number of meanings. The focus here is on kind of atheistic world-view espoused by those who organize and campaign under that banner in the UK and abroad. We should acknowledge that there remain other uses of term. In one of the loosest senses of the expression, a “Humanist” is someone whose world-view gives special importance to human concerns, values and dignity. If that is what a Humanist is, then of course most of us qualify as Humanists, including many religious theists. But the fact remains that, around the world, those who organize under the label “Humanism” tend to sign up to a narrower, atheistic view. What does Humanism, understood in this narrower way, involve? The boundaries of the concept remain somewhat vague and ambiguous. However, most of those who organize under the banner of Humanism would accept the following minimal seven-point characterization of their world-view.


(Published in Faith and Philosophy 2011. Volume 28, Issue 2, April 2011. Stephen Law. Pages 129-151) EVIDENCE, MIRACLES AND THE EXISTENCE OF JESUS Stephen Law Abstract The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of indepen

Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism refuted

Here's my central criticism of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN). It's novel and was published in Analysis last year. Here's the gist. Plantinga argues that if naturalism and evolution are true, then semantic epiphenomenalism is very probably true - that's to say, the content of our beliefs does not causally impinge on our behaviour. And if semantic properties such as having such-and-such content or being true cannot causally impinge on behaviour, then they cannot be selected for by unguided evolution. Plantinga's argument requires, crucially, that there be no conceptual links between belief content and behaviour of a sort that it's actually very plausible to suppose exist (note that to suppose there are such conceptual links is not necessarily to suppose that content can be exhaustively captured in terms of behaviour or functional role, etc. in the way logical behaviourists or functionalists suppose). It turns o