Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism [NOOK Book]

Overview

The academic world has been plagued in recent years by scepticism about truth and knowledge. Paul Boghossian, in his long-awaited first book, sweeps away relativist claims that there is no such thing as objective truth or knowledge, but only truth or knowledge from a particular perspective. He demonstrates clearly that such claims don't even make sense.

Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially...
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Fear of Knowledge: Against Relativism and Constructivism

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Overview

The academic world has been plagued in recent years by scepticism about truth and knowledge. Paul Boghossian, in his long-awaited first book, sweeps away relativist claims that there is no such thing as objective truth or knowledge, but only truth or knowledge from a particular perspective. He demonstrates clearly that such claims don't even make sense.

Boghossian focuses on three different ways of reading the claim that knowledge is socially constructed - one as a thesis about truth and two about justification. And he rejects all three. The intuitive, common-sense view is that there is a way things are that is independent of human opinion, and that we are capable of arriving at belief about how things are that is objectively reasonable, binding on anyone capable of appreciating the relevant evidence regardless of their social or cultural
perspective. Difficult as these notions may be, it is a mistake to think that recent philosophy has uncovered powerful reasons for rejecting them.

This short, lucid, witty book shows that philosophy provides rock-solid support for common sense against the relativists; it will prove provocative reading throughout the discipline and beyond.
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Editorial Reviews

Notre Dame Philosophical Review
The book offers a sustained critique of a particular, postmodern-flavored, Rorty-inspired version of relativism/constructivism. That critique is powerful and on the whole highly effective.
Times Literary Supplement
Lucid and effective...For those prepared to follow its careful and sensible arguments, Fear of Knowledge should be a welcome addition to the literature.
—Simon Blackburn
Wall Street Journal
This is a book that can be read in an afternoon and thought about for a lifetime.
From the Publisher
"This is a book that can be read in an afternoon and thought about for a lifetime. His analysis is something of a tour de force: subtle and original enough to attract the attention of professional philosophers but accessible enough to be read by anyone with an interest in the subject. The result is one of the most readable works in philosophy in recent years."—Wall Street Journal

"The book does a fine job of assessing in brief compass the sort of relativism/constructivism advocated by Rorty and his fellow travelers, and Boghossian's sophisticated and careful arguments against that Rortian view are often ingenious and invariably telling. Aimed at non-specialists, Fear of Knowledge may well succeed in distancing those who are enamored of 'postmodern relativism'. . . from their postmodern enthusiasms."—Harvey Siegel, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Boghossian has written an excellent book.... it contains relentless exposures of confusion, falsehood, and incoherence."—John R. Searle, New York Review of Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780191622755
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 2/23/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Paul Boghossian is Silver Professor of Philosophy at New York University.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 The social construction of knowledge 10
3 Constructing the facts 25
4 Relativizing the facts 42
5 Epistemic relativism defended 58
6 Epistemic relativism rejected 81
7 The paradox resolved 95
8 Epistemic reasons and the explanation of belief 111
9 Epilogue 129
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