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Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist

Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist lawrence torcello Rochester Institute of Technology Introduction is it possible to r ecognize the limits of rationality, and thus to embrace moral pluralism, without embracing moral relativism? My answer is yes; nev- ertheless, certain anti-foundational positions, both recent and ancient, take a cynical stance toward the possibility of any critical moral judgment, and as such, must be regarded as relativistic. It is such cynicism, I argue, whether openly announced or unknowingly implied, that marks the distinction be- tween relativism and pluralism. The danger of this cynicism is not so much that it renders the categorical acceptance of a particular moral view unattain- able, but that it renders categorical condemnation of any particular position (or action) impossible. Two paradigm examples of this form of cynicism are to be found in the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and of Richard Rorty. Both philosophers offer critiques of rationality that lead to a deeply pluralistic un- derstanding of the world; both philosophers attempt to address the challenge of relativism while embracing moral pluralism. Yet, both philosophers allow their respective positions to devolve into a cynical critique of rational form itself, ultimately http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Pluralist University of Illinois Press

Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist

The Pluralist , Volume 6 – Mar 18, 2011

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois
ISSN
1944-6489

Abstract

Sophism and Moral Agnosticism, or, How to Tell a Relativist from a Pluralist lawrence torcello Rochester Institute of Technology Introduction is it possible to r ecognize the limits of rationality, and thus to embrace moral pluralism, without embracing moral relativism? My answer is yes; nev- ertheless, certain anti-foundational positions, both recent and ancient, take a cynical stance toward the possibility of any critical moral judgment, and as such, must be regarded as relativistic. It is such cynicism, I argue, whether openly announced or unknowingly implied, that marks the distinction be- tween relativism and pluralism. The danger of this cynicism is not so much that it renders the categorical acceptance of a particular moral view unattain- able, but that it renders categorical condemnation of any particular position (or action) impossible. Two paradigm examples of this form of cynicism are to be found in the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and of Richard Rorty. Both philosophers offer critiques of rationality that lead to a deeply pluralistic un- derstanding of the world; both philosophers attempt to address the challenge of relativism while embracing moral pluralism. Yet, both philosophers allow their respective positions to devolve into a cynical critique of rational form itself, ultimately

Journal

The PluralistUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 18, 2011

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