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Sometimes Always TrueUndogmatic Pluralism in Politics, Metaphysics, and Epistemology$
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Jeremy Barris

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823262144

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823262144.001.0001

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Comparing Different Cultural or Theoretical Frameworks

Comparing Different Cultural or Theoretical Frameworks

Davidson, Rorty, and the Nature of Truth

(p.32) 1. Comparing Different Cultural or Theoretical Frameworks
Sometimes Always True

Jeremy Barris

Fordham University Press

In comparing very different cultural, theoretical, or methodological standpoints, the nature of truth itself becomes a problem. If the standpoints have different conceptions of truth, a comparative approach that respects both involves the contradiction of resulting conflicting legitimate claims to truth. But if we reject this contradiction, we eliminate the possibility that standpoints can have legitimately different conceptions of truth. And with that we reject the sense of a genuine comparison in this respect. Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty have mounted especially powerful arguments against the very sense of this kind of contradiction between frameworks, and so against the sense of this kind of pluralist comparison. Through a detailed discussion of their work, this chapter argues that the contradictory conception of truth is the right one, in part because, as their own work helps to show, the contradiction has the self-canceling character that I have outlined in this Introduction and as a result resolves itself. The chapter also argues that because the contradiction is self-canceling in this way it is manageable. Further, this chapter argues that this conception legitimates ideas of truth as both absolute and relative, and also (contradictorily but properly pluralistically) legitimates noncontradictory conceptions of truth.

Keywords:   Crosscultural comparison, Comparing frameworks, Concept of truth, Absolute truth, Relative truth, Self-cancellation, Davidson, Rorty

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