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The One Culture?A Conversation about Science$
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Jay A. Labinger and Harry Collins

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226467221

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226467245.001.0001

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One More Round with Relativism

One More Round with Relativism

(p.184) Chapter 15 One More Round with Relativism
The One Culture?

Harry Collins

University of Chicago Press

Epistemological relativism implies that one social group's way of justifying its knowledge is as good as another's and that there is no external vantage point from which to judge between them; all that can be known can be known only from the point of view of one social group or another. Ontological relativism seems to be the view that within social groups, reality itself is different. We can call any combination of epistemological and ontological relativism “philosophical relativism.” Methodological relativism says nothing direct about reality or the justification of knowledge. Methodological relativism is an attitude of mind recommended to the social-scientist investigator: the sociologist or historian should act as though the beliefs about reality of any competing groups being investigated are not caused by the reality itself. Philosophical relativism does not make any difference to the practice of the sociology of scientific knowledge.

Keywords:   epistemological relativism, ontological relativism, methodological relativism, social-scientist investigator, philosophical relativism, sociology of science, scientific knowledge

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