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Relativism VS Pragmatism

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Bill Stone

on 8 February 2017

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Transcript of Relativism VS Pragmatism

What they are up to
What I happen to believe in.
History has always been one long set of different opinions: morals, religion, politics.
Everyone claims to posses the truth.
Isn’t the relativist correct in claiming that truth is relative?
People disagree over issues does not prove there is no objective truth
Can a relativist ever say their previous belief were incorrect?
Can a relativist ever say a culture is morally wrong?
Relativism Weaknesses
We are “sheep,” “little gray people,” “shallow ponds” “the psychologically weak,” “slaves”
Other guys' false beliefs.
How other guys talk
We interpret data to create a vision of the world that not only makes sense to us but conforms to our subjective needs.
We can not bear shattering the illusion of objectivity.
Constructing Reality
We don’t have any objective knowledge at all.
Each of us thinks, speaks, and lives within our own subjective experience.
What we define as a mythology are merely those belief systems that differ significantly from our own.
Subjectivism = beliefs are relative to each person
Cultural Relativism = beliefs are relative to a culture
Historical Relativism = beliefs are relative to a historical time period
More Examples
More Examples
Go to a party and hide. When the women come out to dance, grab one and carry her off to be your wife. -- Benjaminites
Judges 21:19-25
Modern Examples
Top 5 Biblical Ways to Obtain a Wife
Irreverent Examples of Historical Relativism
Are history textbooks only a matter of perspective?
American Revolution
History of South
History of Middle East
History Textbooks
Relativism does not equal tolerance & respect.
Simple-minded relativism is a comfortable position, for it undermines critically evaluating a position.
Simple-Minded Relativism
Skeptic & relativist both reject objective truth.
Skeptic may accept that a question has a true answer, but claim that it is impossible to know it.
Relativist claim there is no one true answer.
Skepticism vs. Relativism
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
When in Rome, do as the Roman do.
That may be true for you, but it’s not true for me.
Different strokes for different folks.
Simple-Minded Relativism
Are “facts” somehow embedded in our language or beliefs?
Is a fact a function of who we are, how we see, think or speak about the world?
What are the implications of this “fact?”
What are Facts?
Can a relativist ever condemn Nazism?
Can a relativist ever condemn slavery?
Can we ever ethically improve?
Relativism Weaknesses
No objective truth = No God
“God is dead” = this ideology was no longer a live, cultural force in Western culture.
Belief in God is simply a symptom of human craving for absolutes
Will to Power
Our thought & language are manifestations of the will to power.
"A Fact" cannot be proven because what we accept as a fact is decided by our web of belief.
“We” decide what counts for evidence.
Web of Belief
More Examples
More Examples
Imagine you made a list of everything what was true.
Imagine a list of your beliefs.
Truth = Web of Beliefs
Objectivism = 1 set of universal truths
Relativism = no universal, objective knowledge
All knowledge is relative
Objectivism vs. Relativism
Its all relative
Human knowledge is tentative, & constantly being revised.
Belief & action bound together.
Practical consequences of ideas become tentative working hypotheses
Pragmatism Strengths
Theories are not so much refuted.
They are abandoned when new and better instruments meet our needs.
Truth absolute, objective. Pragmatism should be adopted because it is a useful way to approach experience.
Life of Theories
Meaning = expected experiences & results.
James asked, "What practical difference would it make to my life if I believed this proposition were true?"
Theory of Meaning
Pragmatism is
a correspondence theory of truth, or spectator theory of knowledge.
How we use that statement in our relationship to our world.
Beliefs = instruments for dealing with the situations.
True beliefs = practical cash value
Truth = ideas that help us to get into satisfactory relation with other parts of our experience.
Sometimes, it is verified by science.
Sometimes, it is verified by successful experience.
Theory of Truth
Ideas are formed in the interaction with the world.
Knowledge is tentative.
All beliefs can be revised.
Pragmatism = Fallibilism
Knowing = Ongoing Process
Pragmatism puts more emphasis on “Knowing” as a verb than “Knowledge” as a noun.
Knowing the world is an ongoing process.
Knowing = problem solving
Comparison & Contrast
Not a photograph of external world
Not a piece of mental furniture
But how we can use a belief
But how a belief guides our desires & shapes our actions
Best theories make a practical difference in concrete life.
Pragmatism is
an elitist search for ultimate truth.
Pragmatism clarifies science, art, religion, politics & morality
Show Me the Money
Pragmatism Weaknesses
How do we know the truth of falseness of a claim if we don’t know long-range consequences?
Can I believe something if I thought the only benefit were from believing it?
Relativism VS Pragmatism
Distinctly American Philosophy
Become the emperor of a huge nation and hold a beauty contest. --Xerxes or Ahasuerus Esther 2:3-4
Cut off 200 foreskins off of your future father-in-law's enemies and get his daughter for a wife. -- David -- I Samuel 18:27
Find an attractive prisoner of war, bring her home, shave her head, trim her nails, and give her new clothes. Then she's yours. Deuteronomy 21:11-13
Find a prostitute and marry her. Hosea
Hosea 1:1-3
Mississippi Community varsity sports costs taxpayers more than $20 million. Only a tiny % of the cost is payed for ticket sales. Mississippi is the poorest state in the nation. Relativism is chief manner in justifying the cost.
Governor Ross Barnett proclaims that he would rather close UM than allow a black person to matriculate. He gets a standing ovation.
A church readily accepts a female minister even though 20 years earlier, it strongly refused.
In many countries and in some places in the US, prostitution is legal.
A person buys a new Toyota Prius even though it is $7,000 more expensive than the Corolla which shares the same chassis. They know they will never save $7,000 in gas savings compared to the Corolla.
The Science Foundation accused President George Bush's administration of ripping out of context the findings of many projects.
A college educator thinks their task is to get students to perform better on standardized exit exams than other students at other schools.
A man goes to a medical clinic for Prostatitis and refuses to let the Dr. examine him when he discovers the Dr. is female.
An Interior Architect selects colors and texture to suit the tastes of their client.
A young man who rarely goes into the woods, buys a lifted red Chevy Silverado 4X4 with 34" mud tires, loud exhaust and 220,000 miles, when he could have bought a plain white Camry with no options with 120,000 miles.
A construction class creates test to determine the weight and force the pre-assembled truss can handle.
A person attends church because they believe it will help their family, business and standing in the community.
A person attends church because it offers many benefits of a socially connectedness.
John Dewey
Founders of American Psychology & founders of American Pragmatism
William James

Charles S. Peirce
Just when scientists reach empirical consensus, a new generation comes along and overthrows it.
If there is one true story about the world, why is it so hard to figure out what it is?
Doesn't the relativist have a simple and logical answer.
Wouldn't a healthy dose of relativism be an antidote to all the dogmatism and intolerance in the world.
Would we have all the worse, persecutions in history if people did not believe that they held absolute truth?
Relativism Strengths
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