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RELATIVISM Report Summary

Project ID: 339382
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Austria

Periodic Report Summary 2 - RELATIVISM (The Emergence of Relativism -- Historical, Philosophical and Sociological Perspectives)

Summary of the major achievements since the start of the project

To begin with some numbers, since its start 2,5 years ago, members of the project have written about 30 papers or book chapters (of which mor than a dozen have already appeared in print); they have participated in a large number (i.e. 44) of international conferences and workshops; given more than 60 talks; and have organized an international conference in Vienna (with 17 speakers) and a Summer School (in the IUC in Dubrovnik), as well as 36 talks by visiting speakers.

(Addition May 12th: the original number have been adjusted in light of Dr. Sponzilli's comments.)

Amongst the major intellectual achievements are:

(1) a better systematic understanding of the differences between epistemic relativism on the one hand, and a number of other positions such as contingentism, skepticism, semantic relativism, contextualism, pluralism, historicism, realism, feminist standpoint theory, the sociology of knowledge (“sociologism”), “hinge epistemology”, the theory of “peer disagreement”, and moral relativism, on the other hand;
(2) a better systematic understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different forms of epistemic relativism and anti-relativism: here our work has focused on the epistemic relativism(s) of the sociology of knowledge and, standpoint theory, and the anti-relativism(s) of Paul Boghossian, Annalisa Coliva, or Timothy Williamson;
(3) an improved philosophical-historical understanding of: the cultural and political impact of the philosophical debate on relativism in the late 19th and early 20th century"; the absence of the “problem” of relativism in Herder; Nietzsche’s relativism in his mature works; Windelband’s (unsuccessful) attempts to fend off historical relativism; similarities in Dilthey’s and Windelband’s responses to relativism; the relation between "historicism" and "psychologism", particularily in Dilthey's philosophy; the role of relativism and anti-relativism in Nazi philosophy; the historical significance and systematic meaning of the concept of life as well as its ambivalent status in the debate on relativism; Wittgenstein’s relativistic leanings in his later philosophy; the many different forms of “relativism” in Simmel’s writings; the role of relativism in the early sociology of knowledge (Simmel and Mannheim).

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