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Relativism: A demon roaming through science

Author(s): Stojnov Dušan B.

Journal: Zbornik Instituta za Pedagoška Istraživanja
ISSN 0579-6431

Volume: 2003;
Issue: 35;
Start page: 11;
Date: 2003;
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Keywords: relativism | absolutism | objectivism | universalism | foundationalism | constructivism | knowledge | education

The advocates of the so-called "hard science" view relativism as an extreme undesirable standpoint. The ill fame of relativism is most frequently explained by the opinion that relativism is striving, in general, for the position where "everything is possible", thus hindering the progress of science and leading to its destruction in the long run. Those opposing relativism, consider relativistic position, in the best of cases, depressing and solipsistic, and, in the worst of cases, extremely destructive. Regarding the fact that such an attitude most often results from the ignorance (sometimes from profound ignorance) of the basic principles of relativistic doctrine, a more elaborate consideration was given herein to the relativistic doctrine: its definitions, opposing other doctrines and diverse orientations. In short, relativism is founded neither upon a view that everything is possible, nor is its application impossible in science nor are its implications so destructive for science as stated by the opponents of this attitude. In addition, the article considers the issue of harmonizing relativism with multiperspectivism of science. Therefore, the presentation to follow should be taken as an attempt to define relativism more closely and to point out its potentials and the road science can take in the time to come.
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