Relativism, Faultlessness and Parity

Argumenta 3 (2016)
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Some philosophers, like Mark Richard and Paul Boghossian, have argued against relativism that it cannot account for the possibility of faultless disagreement. However, I will contend that the objections they moved against relativism do not target its ability to account for the possibility of faultless disagreement per se. Ra- ther, they should be taken to challenge its capacity to account for another element of our folk conception of disagreement in certain areas of discourse—what Cris- pin Wright has dubbed parity. What parity demands is to account for the possibil- ity of coherently appreciating, within a committed perspective, that our oppo- nent’s contrary judgement is somehow on a par with our own judgement. Under- stood in this way, Boghossian’s and Richard’s objections put indeed considerable pressure on relativism—or so I will argue. I will consider John MacFarlane’s at- tempt to resist their objections and I will show that, once their arguments are properly understood as targeting parity, the attempt is not successful. In the last section of the paper I will offer a diagnosis of what is at the heart of the relativist inability to account for parity—namely its assumption of a monistic conception of the normativity of truth.
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