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TOK - Essay Example

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The claim that ‘there are no absolute distinctions between what is true and what is false’ is a reflection of epistemological relativism, which is defined as the assumption that truth, falsity, and knowledge are relative— to space, time, historical period, culture,…
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Download file to see previous pages In other words, the relativist argues that there is no objective or unbiased way of distinguishing between these different sets of norms. Therefore, the relativist’s central argument is that an assertion’s position as true or false is relative to the criteria applied in assessing this assertion.
The principle of relativism is often attributed to Protagoras, who argues that “any given thing is to me such as it appears to me, and is to you such as it appears to you” (Siegel 1998, 35). Protagorean relativism is described by Plato’s Socrates as basing on the assumption that “what seems true to anyone is true for him to whom it seems so” (Siegel 1998, 35). This assumption is a kind of relativism because for the Protagorean there is no norm greater than the person, with his/her own particular position in place, time, culture, context, and so on—with mention of which assertions of truth, and thus knowledge, can be evaluated.
Critics of relativism have presented numerous arguments against the principle; without a doubt the most essential is the argument that relativism is self-contradictory or self-referentially incoherent, which is a logical fallacy where in “some claims is made which, upon being applied to itself, refutes itself” (Dancy, Sosa, & Steup 2010, 677). There are different accounts of the incoherence argument. The strongest is that relativism disqualifies the chance of establishing the truth, or, the epistemic value of questionable assumptions and arguments, including itself, because as stated by relativism no assumption or argument can fail any evaluation of epistemic sufficiency or be deemed false or unfounded (Eaton 1925). For instance, Protagorean relativism: the argument “what seems true [or justified] to anyone is true [or justified] for him to whom it seems so” (Siegel 1998, 35) implies that no genuine assertion can fail to be true or be reasonably evaluated to be false. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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