This acerbic gut response to such extreme relativism is what Paul Boghossian is banking on and playing off of in writing his new book Fear of Knowledge. Fear of Knowledge, Against Relativism and Constructivism – By Paul Boghossian . Article (PDF Available) in dialectica 63(3) · September with 1, Reads. Boghossian uses Fear of Knowledge to distinguish between true or false ideas and justified or unjustified beliefs. This book looks at constructivism and.

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Paul Boghossian – – Oxford University Press. Ultimately, I think that some of the volleys are more interesting and devastating than others, but that may have a lot to do with the changes in my sympathies to certain lnowledge. The relativist argument seems to stem from a denial that an independently existing reality in fact knolwedge. Mark Kalderon – – Philosophical Review 2: Mar 16, Marius Croeser rated it it was ok.

Boghossian neatly demonstrates Rorty’s conflation of these two, and argues compellingly that the latter, contrary to Rorty, offers no support either to description-dependence in particular or fact-constructivism more ov.

Boghossian doesn’t accept this claim however, as relativists would say ‘our claim is true relative to a theory X’ – of what the relativists ‘find agreeable to say’ but based on principles held by relativists and non-relativists alike.

Paul Boghossian, Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism – PhilPapers

If the relativist insists that that’s not required, then the regress doesn’t mean that the truth of relativism makes it impossible to grasp the content of any claims. Second, as already noted, the criticism slides back and forth between relativism about facts and relativism about truth.

He says that constructivism entails backward causation. The constructivist is making a different claim, a counterfactual claim that if there were no concept of a dinosaur, there would be no dinosaurs. Science Logic and Mathematics.


I agree with Boghossian that works by feminists such as Simone de Beauvoir, Judith Butler and others as well as anti-race scholars such as Kwame Anthony Appiah demonstrate the power of sociological constructivism in debunking naturalised assumptions about those ascriptive categories.

It is an argument fea what Meera Nanda describes as ‘epistemic charity.

Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism

In any case, Boghossian zeroes in on two assumptions of the Rortian pro-relativist argument: I do not mean to be endorsing Rorty’s view here, but only to suggest that it is more complex than Boghossian’s discussion acknowledges.

Boghossian is rather too easy on Rorty knoledge, I think. If you can look past the slightly opaque writing, this book would be a good read for anyone wanting to know more about the subject.

Using the example of Galileo, he claims that the move from an Earth-centric to a heliocentric model of the solar system was simply an expression of preference for a particular scientific model over others. I don’t think Boghossian’s approach considers contextual dynamics enough to be as useful ,nowledge educational researchers as other approaches, but his dissent is an important consideration.

The book is an accessible, worthwhile read. The concept dinosaur is utterly dependent upon us; moreover, this concept does the work of applying to the objects in question timelessly: Boghossian briefly defends Premise 1but attends mainly to Premise 2.

Assume that truths are made true by facts that serve as truth-makers.


Boghossian contrasts them with what he calls ” The Classical Picture of Knowledge ,” according to which 1 “The world which we seek to understand and know about is what it is largely independently of us and our beliefs about it” ” Objectivism about Facts “2 “Facts of the Form — information E justifies belief B — are society-independent facts” ” Objectivism about Justification “and 3 “Under the appropriate circumstances, our exposure to the evidence alone is capable of explaining why we believe what we believe” ” Objectivism about Rational Explanation “.


This explanation is proliferated along lines of race, sexuality The photograph on the cover is of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France. Yet, these thinkers along with Boghossian’s other whipping boy, Richard Rorty, who I can only guess is included as a rhetorical straw man are not typical po-mo targets.

It throws reason to the winds and instead often lapses into arguments of authority.

Nov 17, Shane Wagoner rated it really liked it. He also assumes that our beliefs are either true or false. Much of the vocabulary of everyday discourse is vague, seemingly neither true nor false. New Essays Quentin Smith. In a way he appers to embrace parts of it, yet stands critical against o This book is lucid and well argued.

His main claim is that relativism and constructivism even in the weak form leads to an infinite regression.

Boghossian considers “the traditional argument” 52 according to which it is untenable because incoherent, and finds that argument wanting; he offers another argument in its place.

If it visually seems to Galileo that there are mountains on the moon, then Galileo is justified in believing that there are mountains on the moon 85. Ultimately, I decided to rate it from my subjective situation, ironically. Yet we should also remember that the instincts that bring about some of those misconceptions may be worth preserving.