Siegel (2011)

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Siegel, Harvey. (2011) Relativism, Incoherence, and the Strong Program. In Schantz and Seidel (Eds.) (2011).

Title Relativism, Incoherence, and the Strong Program
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Harvey Siegel
Year 2011
Collection Schantz and Seidel (Eds.) (2011)


Harvey Siegel discusses the question of whether epistemological relativism is an incoherent position. After rehearsing Plato’s case for incoherence he examines the position of the proponents of the Strong Programme in the sociology of scientific knowledge. Siegel distinguishes between innocuous and more contentious claims to be found in their writings and examines their arguments for the latter. He focuses on the‘no transcendence, therefore relativism’-argument; arguing that from acceptance of the impossibility to achieve a ‘perspectiveless perspective’relativism does not follow. Despite such an impossibility, so Siegel claims,there is a sense in which we can transcend our own, actual perspective. Furthermore, drawing on the possibility of sociological accounts of the causes of the credibility of belief that conflict with the account favoured by Strong Programmers, he concludes that the Programme’s relativism is at odds with its avowed scientific status and finally falls prey to the charge of incoherence.