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Metaphilosophy and Relativism

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Abstract:

I am concerned with the metaphilosophical questions of how we are to proceed when doing philosophy, and whether there is more than one way of achieving our aim. These questions are tackled initially by an examination of the answers given by Richard Double in his book Metaphilosophy and Freewill. It is argued that the considerations he rehearses in favour of metaphilosophical relativism are inconclusive, and that, in any case, it is a position that contains serious internal difficulties. An analogy is made with the problems encountered by Hume's sceptical theory of the self, and it is suggested that Double, like Hume, is implicitly presupposing the conclusion he is seeking to deny. He does so by relying upon certain critical procedures in the course of his argument. Next, I consider how Double might respond to this criticism, and it is concluded that such a rejoinder fails. Finally, I return to the questions which served as the starting point of this discussion, and I apply the conclusions I have reached to their possible resolution. It is claimed that a form of rationalism has been vindicated.

Keywords: Hume; metaphilosophy; rationalism; relativism; scepticism; self

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9973.00195

Affiliations: Jesus College, Oxford, UK

Publication date: 2001-07-01

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