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Relativism, disagreement, and predicates of personal taste

By Barry C. Smith


Disagreements about what is delicious, what is funny, what is morally acceptable can lead to intractable disputes between parties holding opposing views of a given subject. How should we think of such disputes? Do they always amount to genuine disagreements? The answer will depend on how we understand disagreement and how we should think about the meaning and truth of statements in these areas of discourse. I shall consider cases of dispute and disagreement where relativism about truth appears to give the best explanation of the phenomena. I will argue that that we cannot explain the relativist option merely by relativizing truth to an extra parameter, such as a standard of taste, or a sense of humour. Instead, I will focus on cases where the dispute concerns whether either of the two opposing parties is judging in accordance with an existing standard, and I shall suggest that how we should think of these cases bears important affinities with rule-following considerations found in the later Wittgenstein’s work

Topics: phil
Publisher: De Gruyter
Year: 2010
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