Semantic Relativism and Logical Implication

Erkenntnis:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Semantic relativism is the view that the truth-value of some types of statements can vary depending on factors besides possible worlds and times, without any change in their propositional content. It has grown increasingly popular as a semantic theory of several types of statements, including statements that attribute knowledge of a proposition to a subject. The ways of knowing claim is the view that perception logically implies knowledge. In my “Semantic Relativism and Ways of Knowing” I argued that a relativist semantics for knowledge attributions is incompatible with the ways of knowing claim. I suggested that this incompatibility depends on some basic features of the logic of relativist semantics, and therefore can be shown to generalise beyond the discussion of knowledge attributions to semantic relativism more broadly. Here I make this generalisation. I demonstrate that for any proposition p expressed by a statement that does not have a relativist semantics, and for any proposition q expressed by a statement that does have a relativist semantics, p fails to logically imply q. I explain why this happens, discuss some of its philosophical consequences, and consider a way to modify relativist semantics to avoid it. I conclude that semantic relativism raises interesting philosophical questions that have gone largely unnoticed in discussions of this view until now.
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Archival date: 2020-11-29
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