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The Social Sciences And The Two Relativisms

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with cognitive relativism firstly and secondly with cultural relativism. It treats this complex subject in its full extension, but rather concentrate my attention on some basic cognitive and social mechanisms responsible for the popularity of the two forms of relativism. An important source of cognitive relativism is the "new sociology of science", an intellectual tradition which was started with Kuhn's work (1962) on The Structure of scientific revolutions. The chapter turns now to cultural relativism. It is much more influent and widely spread than cognitive relativism. It starts with the core ideas. Cultural relativism is grounded notably on three core ideas to which three great names can be associated: Montaigne, David Hume and Max Weber. The chapter focuses on the cognitive mechanisms responsible for the hyperbolization of these core ideas.

Keywords: cognitive relativism; cultural relativism; Kuhn; social sciences



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