A new maneuver against the epistemic relativist

Synthese 191 (8) (2014)
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Epistemic relativists often appeal to an epistemic incommensurability thesis. One notable example is the position advanced by Wittgenstein in On certainty (1969). However, Ian Hacking’s radical denial of the possibility of objective epistemic reasons for belief poses, we suggest, an even more forceful challenge to mainstream meta-epistemology. Our central objective will be to develop a novel strategy for defusing Hacking’s line of argument. Specifically, we show that the epistemic incommensurability thesis can be resisted even if we grant the very insights that lead Hacking to claim that epistemic reasons are always relative to a style of reasoning. Surprisingly, the key to defusing the argument is to be found in recent mainstream work on the epistemic state of objectual understanding
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