This essay is a follow-up to a previous article by the author, “Epistemic Grace: Antirelativism as Theology in Disguise,” published in Common Knowledge 13, nos. 2–3 (2007): 250–80. Its central claim was that relativism and absolutism should be understood as categories that are mutually exclusive and jointly exhaustive; the two categories form a dichotomy, and thus the rejection of absolutism is a necessary and sufficient condition for the embrace of relativism and vice versa. Daniel Paksi, in a essay titled “Relativism or Absolutism? David Bloor and the Snares of an Unfortunate Dichotomy,” claims that it is possible to adopt a position, a “third way,” that is neither relativist nor absolutist. He proposes that the “emergentism” of Michael Polanyi is such a third way. In response, David Bloor argues that Paksi's proposed third way is beset by profound and well-known problems of obscurity—specifically, by what is sometimes called the two-worlds problem. Bloor claims that the dichotomy of relativism and absolutism is more intelligible and more defensible than the emergentism that Paksi defends and concludes that the only ism between relativism and absolutism is obscurantism.
David Bloor; RELATIVISM VERSUS ABSOLUTISM: In Defense of a Dichotomy. Common Knowledge 1 September 2016; 22 (3): 488–499. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-3622372
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