Relativism

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Relativism is the concept of points of view having no absolute truth or validity, and have only relative, subjective values according to differences in perception and consideration.[1][2] The term is often used to refer to the context of moral principle, where in a relativistic mode of thought, principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only limited context. There are many forms of relativism which vary in their degree of controversy.[3] The term often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, i.e., that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture (cf. cultural relativism). Another widespread and contentious form is moral relativism. (See also moral relativism, aesthetic relativism, social constructionism, and cognitive relativism).

Relativism is sometimes (though not always) interpreted as saying that all points of view are equally valid, in contrast to an absolutism which argues there is but one true and correct view. In fact, relativism asserts that a particular instance Y exists only in combination with or as a by-product of a particular framework or viewpoint X, and that no framework or standpoint is uniquely privileged over all others. That is, a non-universal trait Y (e.g., a particular practice or convention for example). Notably, this is not an argument that all instances of a certain kind of framework (say, all languages) do not share certain basic universal commonalities (say, grammatical structure and vocabulary) that essentially define that kind of framework and distinguish it from other frameworks (for example, linguists have criteria that define language and distinguish it from the mere communication of other animals). Moreover, relativism also presupposes philosophical realism in that there are actual objective things in the world that are relative to other real things.[citation needed] Additionally, relativism assumes causality, as well as a problematic web of relationships between various independent variables and the particular dependent variables that they influence.[citation needed]

One argument for relativism suggests that our own cognitive bias prevents us from observing something objectively with our own senses, and notational bias will apply to whatever we can allegedly measure without using our senses. In addition, we have a culture bias—shared with other trusted observers—which we cannot eliminate. A counterargument to this states that subjective certainty and concrete objects and causes form part of our everyday life, and that there is no great value in discarding such useful ideas as isomorphism, objectivity and a final truth. Some relativists claim that humans can understand and evaluate beliefs and behaviors only in terms of their historical or cultural context.

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